Last week on “Hell’s Kitchen” Season 18, five out the six remaining chefs were lucky enough to receive a black jacket and continue on in the competition. We have had a week to digest the fact that Heather Williams, a runner-up on Season 16 who returned as a veteran player and struggled with both her dishes and defensive demeanor, was picked over rookie Kanae Houston, who maintained an upbeat attitude and took more risks with her food. What’s done is done, which is more than you can say about most of the meat and seafood served by this group of chefs so far.
Joining Williams is Ariel Contreras-Fox, who has topped our Gold Derby polls as the most deserving to win it all, Mia Castro, Bret Hauser and Motto. From what we saw in a preview last week, one should keep antacid handy for a roller coaster of a dinner service. Continue on to the minute-by-minute recap below of Season 18, Episode 13, “An Episode of Firsts.”
9:02 p.m. “Well, congratulations, dude,” Mia calls out to Heather, who shocks her fellow chefs by bursting through the door instead of Kanae. “Don’t make me feel wanted or anything,” she gripes. Mia, sweetheart that she sometimes is, gives the sourpuss a hug. Heather’s aside to the camera? “Bite me, bitch!”
9:04 p.m. Veteran Bret, who left early in Season 14 after suffering an injury, is clearly grateful that he has a second chance to go for the big prize on the show. He reveals to the other chefs that when he was age 20, a judge threatened him with 30 years in jail. He doesn’t say why, but I doubt it involves his penchant for always making Italian food during challenges. Anyway, good for him.
9:06 p.m. Sous chefs. Jocky and Christina serve breakfast to the chefs, courtesy of Gordon Ramsay. As Bret sums it up: “Breakfast in the dorm? Wow! Wow!” Motto describes a spicy tomato dish with baked eggs as well as Eggs Benedict. As Motto says, “It’s just a beautiful spread of perfectly executed eggs.”
9:07 p.m. Leave it to savvy Ariel to sniff out the real purpose behind their hearty repast: “Although it’s been quite lovely this morning, I’m pretty sure that I need to pay attention. So I mentally logged all the dishes and presentations, because something happens for a reason here in Hell’s Kitchen.” She asks Mia, when the other three aren’t around, ”Did you get a mental note of all of this?” Ramsay summons the so-called black jacket brigade to the blue kitchen dining room.
9:10 p.m. Motto rightly notes that you have to be on your toes in Hell’s Kitchen, adding, “I have 12 toes and that is not enough to keep me up here all the time.” And, the caption below him confirms he has a dozen tootsies. Ramsay tells Heather, “That was a close one,” referring to her head-to-head cook-off with Kanae. He asks her what is different now from the first time she competed. Her unsatisfying answer: “I don’t remember getting breakfast, but thank you, chef.”
9:12 p.m. Ramsay asks if they all got to taste everything since this will be the challenge that “separates the chefs from the cooks.” That’s right, it’s “taste it, then make it.” Bret, for one, admits he wasn’t paying attention when he was chowing down. They are tasked with re-creating the Eggs Benedict dishes they just devoured.
9:14 p.m. Motto doesn’t bother to taste the dish again, preferring to use his full 30 minutes for cooking. “I’m going to go by memory at this point.” After she samples the eggs, Ariel believes one Benedict uses Canadian bacon and the other, prosciutto. Motto, unlike the rest of chefs, uses prosciutto on both. Mia says, “ I know I can re-create this easily. The only thing I’m not sure of is the spice in the sauce.” Since the Hollandaise is red, she adds shallots and espelette pepper powder to it. Motto is using red wine vinegar and shallots while Heather and Ariel are only using paprika while Bret goes with chives.
9:20 p.m. Heather’s Hollandaise looks like cottage cheese and one of her yokes has broken. She blames the food gods for her bad karma. We could say something here, but we won’t. It’s tasting time. Motto says his looks OK, but Mia notes, “It definitely doesn’t look the way that mine looks.” Motto gets an “interesting” from Ramsay. Heather’s is up next. Her yokes and the Hollandaise are problematic. “I look at this dish and I don’t feel that it is you.” She agrees. Bret gets a head shake right away from Ramsay. His Hollandaise is more like a holland-daze and far from tasty.
9:25 p.m. Ariel is next, and she gets a “beautiful” from Ramsay. She receives an “interesting” after he samples her sauce with a white wine lemon reduction plus salt and paprika. Mia, who has far more experience in her pockets than more seasoned chefs who have come and gone, has plenty of Eggs Benedict training from working the breakfast shift. He asks how she got her sauce so rich, which sounds like a compliment. She also gets a “wow.”
9:30 p.m. Ramsay takes Bret and Heather to task for serving a broken Hollandaise. “You two are out,” he says. He then dings Motto for not using any Canadian bacon on one of his muffins. He has nothing but praise for Ariel and Mia – they BOTH win the challenge! Says rewards challenge queen Mia, with a smug smile, “I always get to have fun because I keep on winning.” As for what that fun will be, Gordo asks if either of the ladies are afraid of heights. He then says something about sky-diving. Ariel turns white but turns out they will be doing it indoors. Jocky and Christina get to go as well.
9:35 p.m. Back at HK headquarters, it’s dorm-cleaning day as Bret is Swiffer-ing away while Heather tidies the refrigerator by tossing old food. Heather brings up a right-on point about Mia: She is a beast at individual challenges but gets out of her comfort zone during dinner service. Coming up: Yet another unappetizingly tense dinner service by the looks of things. The unseen guy who occasionally pipes up to comment on what is happening suggests one veteran chef might have “a sneaky agenda.” Hmm.
9:38 p.m. Ariel, Mia, Jocky and Christina get a bite to eat. Ariel wants to grill Christina, who won Season 10, what it was like when she got her black jacket. A flashback shows a lot of joyous shrieking was involved. Mia would love to face off with Ariel in the finale. But she better get her dinner service act together. As for Ariel, who is like Mia’s big sister, she says, “The mentorship program is over.”
9:40 p.m. The five are prepping away. Ariel warns she doesn’t want to be caught in a “too many chiefs” situation. Here we go as diners arrive. Motto is the swing chef, with Heather handling seafood. Already, there is a communication breakdown as Heather refuses to answer Ariel’s requests. A frustrated Ariel puts on a puppet show with her hands to mock her fellow veteran’s non-responses. Heather is falling down on the job, big time, apologizing instead of filling orders. At least her scallops are nicely cooked.
9:45 p.m. Enter the entrée orders. Bret brags he is going the “manhandle’ the meat station. Heather gets a “nicely cooked” for her halibut. Let’s see what Ramsay thinks about the meat? Ugh, it’s raw. Motto is peeved that Bret brushes off his offer to help. The chef in chief is almost breathing fire as he reams out Bret for not communicating better.
9:48 p.m. Motto tries to get Bret back on track. But Bret forgets to tell him to bring over the sauce. Then Mia starts getting the jitters on the garnish station and zones out. Heather cooks her salmon in a cold pan and, as Bret says, that is a big no-no and results in a do-over. Motto gets a “nicely cooked’ for his salmon. But then chaos reigns as the number of orders for each entrée gets jumbled.
9:50 p.m. Motto finally gets the meat and fish orders under control and the dinner wraps up finally. The chefs now must decide which two people should be put up for elimination and off they go to the tune of Chef Ramsay’s “Piss off!” Bret tags Mia as the worst performer. And also suggests Heather. Mia says Motto, “because he was lost, and … Heather?” Heather picks Bret and Mia. Motto sighs, and says, “Heather and Mia.” Ariel walks out since she seems safe.
9:54 p.m. ”What a night,” sighs Ramsay. “Not good.” Ariel nominates Heather and Mia. They are both called up and are asked to make their case to stay. Heather says she hasn’t given up and that “I don’t shut down.” To Mia, Ramsay asks why she should stay and what the (bleep) happened tonight?” “I did the best I could under the circumstances,” she says. Motto is asked his opinion and he rightly states Heather was not ship-shape on the fish station. Bret goes after Mia. Ariel, sticking with her buddy, calls out Heather.
9:57 p.m. So declares King Ramsay: “My decision is … Heather.” There goes the black jacket. “I never thought I would be leaving without the executive chef position,” she says.
9:58 p.m. “You are the final four,” says he who holds their fates in his hands. “You’ve got to push every single second in that kitchen.” Mia is ticked. “They think I’m going let them walk all over me. They are (bleeping) wrong. All of them. They can kiss my ass. I’m here to (bleeping) win.” At least she is starting to sound like Ramsay. His summation of Heather? “Too many times Heather blamed her mistakes on having a bad day. I’m not looking for apologies. I’m looking for an executive chef.”
Next week: Mia picks an odd moment to start hitting the booze and having fun. “Will her naughty behavior rub off on the others,” asks the faceless talking guy. Lord, I hope so. We the viewers want to have fun, too. But no. Talking guy says things take a “serious turn” and even Chef Ramsay is left speechless. Now that is something.