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Is Hell's Kitchen too fake, even for a reality show?

by Bob Sassone, posted Aug 16th 2006 3:01PM

Gordon RamsayInteresting piece by Noel Murray over at The Onion's AV Club. He calls Hell's Kitchen entertaining, but "one of the least transparent of the competitive reality shows." He argues that we always see the personal lives of the contestants on shows like Survivor and Project Runway, but that the players on Hell's Kitchen seem to have no life before or after the show.

But Hell's Kitchen comes from that weird extra-dimensional Fox TV Reality realm, where contestants have no apparent life before or after taping begins-aside from the inevitable glimpse of family members during the finale-and even the game itself seems completely stage-managed. I know Gordon Ramsay's a real dude-I've watched his terrific BBC series Kitchen Nightmares-but I've rarely been convinced that that any of the show's competing chefs have any real interest in cooking for a living, or that their "customers" are anything more than Fox employees and Hollywood extras. (I did see last season's runner-up Ralph on Iron Chef America, though who knows what happened to Michael, who in some kind of shady back-room deal took an apprenticeship with Ramsay over his own restaurant.)

Readers, do you agree?

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linda

I love Chef Ramsey - he is such a dynamic character to watch - but the show format is not working anymore... I think the prize at the end is partly to blame - as there were some better chefs voted out sooner because they wouldn't make a good "image represenation" for Chef Ramsey necessarily... the format needs to change for the show - but keep Ramsey - he's awesome

August 21 2006 at 12:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
V.H.

As an individual who has been in the industry for 15 years,a show like "Hell's Kitchen" is totally unrealistic [and makes my profession look like a joke to the layman].The dining room only sat 100 people and it's appalling that only two or three times did they actually complete service.100 people in 4 hours is a very slow evening and would put an actual establishment in the red.Try 100 people per hour for 4 hours and THAT is more like a true dinner service.
From what I had seen of the contestants,none would have qualified for any Executive Chef position.That position is not about cooking,it's mostly clerical and in large corporate establishments,a degree in business would also be required.
Large multi-million dollar kitchens are not staffed by reality tv contests,I'm sorry.It was just a P.R stunt to bring more revenue to Red Rock,which is fine,but there was even an article online from the Vegas Journal that stated the winner would get a "position suitable to their skill level".
All I saw was mediocre linecooks with a stunning lack of maturity and professionalism.

August 17 2006 at 7:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jim

I'm not sure what to think of HK any more.

I don't like how they seem to selectively edit the biographies of the contestants. Ralph (season 1's runner-up), for example, has worked in restaurants for most of his adult life. He even OWNED two or three restaurants before starting his catering company, which was in operation before, during, and after his HK appearance. It doesn't seem like it would be too difficult for him to win now, does it?

Secondly, I don't like how they misrepresent the prizes on the show. Heather did NOT win "her own restaurant in a billion dollar casino"... she won a one-year CONTRACT as AN executive chef (not THE executive chef) at a steakhouse at the Red Rock. That's not quite the same thing at all, is it?

Lastly, the dinner crowd is starting to bother me. By the point, we all know that they're paid wannabe actors, and that they're trying to get face time for the cameras. suspect in S3 that someone will try to enter the restaurant wearing a t-shirt with their résumé printed on it.

August 17 2006 at 4:48 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
nosidam

If you didn't know Virgina was married, then you obivously didn't see her wearing a wedding ring. She never wore it when in the kitchen, but it was clearly there other times.

August 16 2006 at 5:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
TuckerKatt

I don't really care about the contestants' personal lives beyond a simple bio. It's a cooking competition and all that matters is how they perform on the show. I don't recall seeing a great deal of personal life stuff on Survivor -- there's always a visit from family members late in the show but that's about all. I think we hear them talk about their families more than on HK because they're so bored. On HK the talk is kept to the competition and other contestants.

I think too much personal life info would skew viewers' opinions...if there was a contestant who is already a head chef of their own restaurant, a lot of people would favor that person over, say, a lawyer who just loves to cook, even if the lawyer performs better on HK.

August 16 2006 at 4:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Rico

I gotta say I disagree. Yes, Virginia's marriage was concealed, but really, would it have been as good of a "payoff" had we known that she was a wife from the get-go? All those flirty sessions with Gordon, all the batty eyelashes, the hair flips, the lip-licking? C'mon, that was delicious when we found out she was married. At least I thought it was entertaining. Let's not forget: it's a television show, and television shows are produced exclusively to entertain us. Reality - the day to day kind, which we all know quite well - is not that fun to watch.

As for last season's contestants, like you said, Ralph was on Iron Chef America, going up against Bobby Flay, and he had some really impressive dishes for a reality show chef. I thought he should have won over Michael, anyway.

August 16 2006 at 4:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Fred

You know, I was actually sort of enjoying "Who Wants to Be a Superhero," in spite of all its dorky fakeness. (Maybe in part because, with two eliminations per week, it's going to be very short.) But it is ridiculous -- most of the cast are actors, and have credits in the IMDB.

But you know, as much as I like Lee -- and as much he gets props for just being Stan Lee -- I'm not sure I'd get the point even if these weren't all actors. They're competing to be the focus of a comic book nobody will read and a television movie that will in all likelihood (knowing the Sci-Fi Channel) suck? Wow. Big prize.

August 16 2006 at 4:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Armando

There's plenty of stuff out there in regards to the contestants, all you need is Google. As for Michael, he's opening up his own restaurant and he's also started his own site that sells his custom culinary knives.

August 16 2006 at 3:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Missy

I completely agree that they supress who the contestants on Hell's Kitchen are outside the show. Prime example - I was shocked in this year's finale to find out Virigina was MARRIED. They did not mention her husband the ENTIRE season. They just showed her flirty interactions with Gordon.

August 16 2006 at 3:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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