After a competitive season featuring Elise's big mouth, Elise's feud with Carrie and even more incessant Elise drama, Hell's Kitchen finally crowned its new winner Monday night. Did Elise live up to her own hype?
Going into the two-hour finale, Will Lustberg, Paul Niedermann, Tommy Stevens and Elise Wims were the final chefs vying to snag the position of chef-de-cuisine at Gordon Ramsay's BLT Steak in New York City.
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Taste It, Now Make It Challenge
They had to re-create a dish in 35 minutes after tasting it once. The dish: Cod wrapped in prosciutto with mushrooms, kale and cream. Tommy mistook prosciutto for serrano ham, while Elise and Will fired the wrong fish. As a prize, Paul and his brother Chris got to hang out at The Dodgers game and scarf down Dodger dogs while the losers had to clean their nasty, nasty quarters and then prep for the night's service.
It was a test of leadership tonight, so each chef had a chance to lead the pass:
Paul - He's actually a good communicator and proved "why he's a big deal" by getting dishes out in a timely fashion and catching Tommy's undercooked fish. Unfortunately, he didn't notice the Quality Control test when shrimp was subbed for lobster in the capellini. (Anyone else get hungry at this point? I'd eat that mistake. Shrimp is fine. I'm not too fancy.) Also, Tommy's waffling on the fish station brought out Paul's crazy yelling side, to the point that even Elise commented on it.
Tommy - He's notoriously bad at leadership and talking despite his insistence that he's "articulate and thorough" calling out tickets. There' were many garbled messages going back and forth, but the remaining three got the food out. He also missed the sabotage when filet was placed on a ticket without being on the menu. He called it out and confused his crew, who had to tell him it wasn't on the menu.
Elise - Ms. Big Mouth was good at telling what she wants, and despite missing one Quality Control test, she caught the parsnip puree subbed for the potato mash. She had some friction with Tommy when he presented her with seabass that looked "chewed by your dog" to which he responded, calling her "babe," but overall, she did put up, with no need to shut up.
Will - In the past he's been a competent, relatively level-headed leader and started off by catching the lamb sabotage. Unfortunately after a few of Elise's mistakes, he implied the "shady female" was trying her own bit of sabotage." After a while, exhaustion set in and the remaining chefs stopped responding when Will would call out tickets. Even Chef Ramsay noted that the team was working against Will. Hmm ...
During elimination, Chef Ramsay didn't even give Tommy the chance to defend himself before giving him the boot. The only surprise is that he lasted so long. Nevertheless, we'll miss his quirky, goofy personality. We wish him and his 18-year-old soul mate the best. And despite bringing the most entertaining drama to the show this season, Elise fell just short of making it to the Final 2. Naturally, she cried, and all the guys had to give her words of support to buck her up. Adios, Elise. Somehow, we don't think this is the last we'll see (or hear!) of you.
BLT Tryout Menu Challenge
Paul and Will had one hour to create five dishes that have the chance to appear on the BLT Steak menu. Five chefs had to decide on a seafood dish, salad, fish dish, bone-in ribeye and a filet of beef. They were all tied up -- Paul scored for his mixed greens salad and branzini, while Will scored for his seared scallops and ribeye with gruyere -- until the final dish. Will's boldness with his grilled filet with buttered brussels sprouts and black truffled potatoes with grapes won in the end.
For winning, Will got to pick from the returning contestants for his sous chefs. Although he selected Tommy, Natalie and Jennifer for their strengths, he picked Krupa just so Carrie would be stuck on Paul's team with her nemesis Elise. He also drew Elizabeth and Jonathan. Do I smell sabotage?
Final Dinner Service
Will - He started out strong thanks to Natalie on apps, however he began to regret his strategy of picking Krupa, who was less than competent on fish. Eventually Nat replaced her on that station, and she was shunted to desserts. A classic exchange: Natalie prodding a fish: "What is it supposed to be?" Krupa: "Cooked." Nat had to catch back up from Krupa's lack of prep but Will's service eventually bounced back.
Paul - His kick-off was a little shaky, thanks to Elise flubbing her first app, including setting a pan on fire. Chef Ramsay was right in describing her as resilient though, and she was called upon to drift from station to station to help out the rest of the brigade. Captain Save a 'Ho to the rescue! Paul points out he's the only chef to get Elise and Carrie to work harmoniously (well, slightly less discordantly) together. No mean feat, that.
And the Winner Is ...
At the moment of truth, Will tried to turn the door handle ... and the door didn't open. Congrats to Paul, who, exclaimed, "Holy s---!" upon winning. Both were worthy competitors, so well played, guys.
Are you happy that Paul won? Did someone else deserve it more? Are you glad that Elise didn't make it to the finals?