Carla Hawkes

"Tempers Flare Between Competitors"

First of all, I can’t believe this season of Hell's Kitchen has already come to a close — it seems like just yesterday Melissa’s hair was dipping into her food, Cowboy Aaron was having a nervous breakdown, and Rock was yelling at…well, pretty much everyone. I can’t imagine how stressful this final competition must have been for Rock and Bonnie, especially to have their fate lie somewhat in their ex-competitors’ hands. While everyone claimed to be loyal to their chef, it’s obvious some people (er, Julia) were still jealous they didn’t make it to the finale. In past seasons, I seem to remember the restaurant design being a major part of the finale. Tonight I was disappointed that we didn’t get to see each side of the restaurant’s transformation. Sure, they touched on it here and there, but it was hard to get a good idea of which way each room was headed until they were finally revealed. I’m a big believer that a restaurant’s... read more

"The Final Two Chefs Compete"

I have to say, to promote tonight’s episode as "the beginning of the end" makes it seem a lot more exciting than it actually was. It seemed to me that tonight’s Hell’s Kitchen] was a lot of fluff — a waste of an hour that could have been more wisely invested in a longer season finale. It was just hard to get into the competitive spirit when we knew no one would be leaving Hell’s Kitchen. But if Rock thinks "homegirl can beat him" next week, he should think twice. While I am fairly certain that Rock has this competition in the bag, Bonnie continually surprises me. And at the Green Valley Resort & Spa cook-off, Bonnie really made a reputation for herself amongst Vegas’ elite. But I’m getting ahead of myself....What really confused me tonight was the restaurant design challenge. Usually this is a whole-night affair (which I’m hoping it will be next week), but tonight we merely saw the very beginning of the design process. We did get a hint t... read more

"The Contestants' Mothers Vote"

Tonight’s episode is that one episode in every reality show that reaches a critical moment where the person eliminated is truly the biggest loser of the season. To come this far, to suffer through all those late nights and to hear yourself called “donkey” more times than you can count, and still not make it to the finals? That has got to be brutal. I loved seeing everyone’s mothers visit Hell's Kitchen this week, especially Chef Ramsay's! It’s easy to sometimes forget he’s human, and seeing his mother in the flesh was a good reminder. It was also a great morale booster for the chefs to have their mothers there. In this episode especially, the pressure was on and it was nice to see some relief from it, if even for a moment! And lucky Jen got to spend the whole day with her mother. Did it bother anyone else that when she got the $1,000 shopping spree, she didn’t buy anything for poor Rock and Bonnie, at home slaving away cleaning the dorms? I seem to... read more

"A Heated Power-Struggle"

Now that we’re getting close to the finals, things are getting even hotter in Hell’s Kitchen. Tonight Chef Ramsay gave the final five their new jackets, put them all on one team, announced they would be performing their very first individual challenge and made them cook for an entire high-school cafeteria. And that was just before the first commercial break! I cannot tell you how happy I was that Julia won the cafeteria challenge. Not only was her dish the most cafeteria-friendly but her victory ensured Bonnie’s salad’s loss. Did Bonnie really think the way to a kid’s heart was with salad? Come on! I was also thrilled Julia won the trip to Vegas. She was definitely the most worthy of the trip. Jen, on the other hand… let’s just say she wouldn’t have been my pick!Back in the kitchen, Bonnie threw away the monkfish. You’d think she would’ve asked for a second opinion before throwing it in the garbage, but I did feel bad for her. This c... read more

"Leftovers into Meals"

I temporarily forgot Melissa went home last week and as soon as I saw the recap, I felt pure joy all over again. I immediately anticipated that this episode would prove less stressful, but let’s face it, this is "Hell's Kitchen" for a reason. And there are only six contestants left.I loved tonight's challenge — making complete meals out of leftovers is my specialty. It's so fun to watch people make something out of nothing. I was so impressed by the boys’ team for kicking into action immediately, while the girls just sat around staring at the food and knocking each other’s ideas into submission. My favorite contestants so far (in case I haven’t talked about them enough in my recent blogs!) are Rock and Julia, so it was fun to see them go head-to-head: surf and turf versus fish-and-chips. I personally thought both looked delicious, but Chef Ramsay favored Rock’s dish, which I have to admit was incredibly impressive given the limits of the challenge.As so... read more

"The Teams Prepare Lobster Dishes"

Let’s first just take a moment to celebrate Melissa’s elimination, shall we? As far as I’m concerned, it’s long overdue. And from the very beginning of tonight’s episode when she claimed to her new teammates, “I’ll never sabotage you,” I was hoping her coat would be the one hooked tonight. I think Chef Ramsay, in retrospect, knew she was a goner last week; he just wanted to keep her around to give the boys hell. And it worked! Her risotto came out mushy, she overdid the last of the monkfish and I always fear that that hair of hers is going to end up in some poor diner’s food. And on the girls' side, the truth comes out about Jen. It seems the self-proclaimed pastry chef from Philadelphia has a rather impressive résumé she’s been keeping to herself. One has to wonder if she’ll still be employable upon her return home after her five-star employers witness her plucking food out of the garbage on national television.I love... read more

July 2, 2007: A Wedding Reception at the Restaurant

First of all, I can’t believe there are only seven chefs left. This season is flying by so quickly! Secondly, I feel bad for the boys’ team; they hadn’t won anything until tonight and they don’t even have Melissa, Jen or Bonnie to slow them down. I was so happy for the men to finally win and have some time to relax. Also, for the bride and groom’s sake, it’s probably for the best that the men weren’t left to the decorating!Now, on to the challenge. How fun did that supermarket shopping look? It reminded me of sitting at home on summer break from school watching Supermarket Sweep with my sister. Seriously, it used to be my dream to charge down the aisles cramming food into my shopping cart while racing against the clock. And finally, the gang got outside of Hell’s Kitchen for some fresh air! But back in the kitchen, Melissa seemed to have forgotten she's a contestant, and took over the role of Chef Ramsay. I don’t know why these girls cont... read more

June 25, 2007: Taste-testing Practice Turns Stomachs

Ah, the blind taste-test challenge. Every season this is my favorite moment — watching cocky, self-proclaimed, blindfolded “professionals” claim that a carrot is a radish, or better yet, a mango! Tuna becomes prosciutto, and bok choy is, well bok choy... if you’re cheating. I’m actually surprised Chef Ramsay doesn’t put more difficult, horrific food in there. Until I see the punishment, that is!Beef liver, tongue, kidneys, creamed herring… I don’t think I need to go on. Just when I thought the raw-fish fling was the most audacious challenge yet, Chef Ramsay put out barf bags and organs. This challenge definitely takes the cake. This was the third loss for the men’s team, and I have to say, it surprises me. I think most of the men are much stronger competitors than the contenders from the women’s team. And with all the bickering that goes on among the women, I’m truly surprised they’ve held it together this long. Rock conti... read more

June 18, 2007: "One Contestant Falls Seriously Ill"

Oh, Aaron! As soon as Rock had to help Aaron into his clothes (which I thought was very sweet of Rock, by the way), I knew that he was doomed. Well, that and the fact that the episode was titled “One Contestant Falls Seriously Ill.” There was really no surprise who that “one contestant” would be. Poor Aaron just can’t catch a break. First he had to be helped into his clothes, then he set fire to his station, and lastly, he collapsed in the kitchen. I think at this point, it was best for Aaron to throw in the towel (literally). And even though it was obviously in Aaron’s best interest to go home, it still broke my heart a little to hear Chef Ramsay tell him he would not be returning to Hell’s Kitchen.Meanwhile, it was a refreshing change to see Hell’s Kitchen open for breakfast. I get sick of seeing the same meals prepared week after week so it was a nice change of pace... or cuisine, rather. The pace really never seems to change! My first thou... read more

June 11, 2007: A Food-preparation Challenge

First off, I wrote a lot of things about Aaron that I just deleted because I felt awful that he appears to be suffering some sort of stress-related medical condition in addition to constant harassment from Chef Ramsay. I will, however, say that his running around introducing himself to the diners was truly idiotic. If there’s anything we know irritates Chef Ramsay, it’s doing absolutely anything that isn’t a direct order. Add to the mess the fact that Aaron’s deboning the fish table-side took 15 minutes, and I feel a little less awful. With sweat pouring down his face, nonetheless. That has got to be some sort of health hazard! However, at the same time I keep seeing flashes of that ambulance from the Season 3 preview and Chef Ramsay screaming “don’t die on me,” and I have a terrible feeling that might be Aaron-related. So I’ll be nice…for now. It was nice seeing the girls' team come together this week after being dubbed “Hell’s... read more

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