It was quite surprising to witness a contestant at the top of his fame suddenly pull out of the heat of competition a week before the final showdown on the 18th season of “Hell’s Kitchen” this Friday. Not that it didn’t make for compelling TV as chef Chris Motto announced he was eliminating himself in the final minutes of the penultimate episode. He then emotionally explained why he opted to go back to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, rather than vie for the chance to be the executive chef at Gordon Ramsay’s new Las Vegas restaurant.
The rest of the final four – Bret Hauser, Mia Castro and a teary-eyed Ariel Contreras-Fox — along with Ramsay were quite moved by his explanation: The executive chef at Mansurs on the Boulevard, which serves Creole fare, felt he had an obligation to go back home and use his newfound skills that he learned on the show to elevate his own city’s culinary standard. “I would never give up on any of you all,” he said. “But I also can’t give up on my friends and my family. I got to accept that.”
Apparently, you the viewers also appreciated his sincere explanation as 61% percent responding to our Gold Derby poll thought Motto was right to follow his heart and step aside. Only 11% thought the rookie selfishly denied another chef to be part of the final four. And just 3% thought he should have dropped out sooner to allow veteran Heather Williams, who came close to winning on Season 16, to take his place in the final four.
Other poll participants were more focused on either rookie Mia or veteran Ariel taking it all this week, with 21% backing either of them to win. Only 4% were invested in Bret winning.
Several HK watchers also dished about their thoughts on Motto’s stepping aside:
*B. Drummond: “I don’t feel his decision affected the chances of the other chefs to be in the finale. Those chefs were eliminated due to their poor performances. Every chef, with the exception of Kanae, I feel deserved to go home, and had little chance of making it into the final four.”
*Kevin:”I couldn’t believe my pick to win this season just up and dropped out of the competition. I understand his side of things but now the season has become lackluster without Motto. I couldn’t wait to watch each week. Now I”ll just DVR it and watch it when I get to it.”
*Regis: “I was shocked Motto dropped out at the time he did. To make it that far, he might as well just finished it out. I don’t think he would have made it to the final two but gotta respect his decision. I don’t think it would have made a difference as far Heather’s elimination She was falling off there at the end anyway. I think she should have been eliminated instead of Kanae.”
TabloidJunkie: “I agree. I was disappointed that Heather was chosen to stay over Kanae. I respected that she got creative with her surf and turf. Heather was boring this season.
I was shocked that Motto did what he did when he did it. I was rooting for him. Even more than the vets that I already “know.” He was the only one that seemed to deserve it out of everyone except for Ariel and Mia.”
Even though Ramsay was clearly disappointed, but he bestowed a great compliment on Motto: That he never met a chef on the show as sincere as the Baton Rouge native and suggested once he is done with his mission that Motto should give him a call.
Don’t forget. The two-hour Season 18 finale of “Hell’s Kitchen” airs this Friday on FOX at 8 p.m. ET/PT with a two-part episode.