I watched Hell's Kitchen last night. I don't usually watch this show because honestly, I think it's ridiculous. How experienced chefs (and we're talking Executive Chefs & Sous Chefs in most cases!) screw up scallops and risotto as much as they do blows my mind. First of all, most of the contestants are restaurant chefs-this means that at some point, they've had to work on a line in order to get to where they are. How is it they don't know how to time their food? Why do they not know how to cook meat to temperature?
The other thing that drives me mad is the fact that over and over we've seen risotto and Wellington served in Hell's Kitchen. Ever. Single. Season.
Why would you NOT perfect those 2 things before auditioning?!?! Clearly, they are just plain stupid. It drives me MAD. It's a pretty big freaking contest with a very intimidating (and highly decorated) chef as the judge. Maybe it's just me, but I'm pretty sure I'd want to be prepared as much as I could be before going on national television. (I'd even use a micro sd to store photos of the food to use as a study aide.)
I know from experience that working in a kitchen is hard, stressful (and physical) work. But if you are going to be brave/stupid/arrogant/driven enough to audition for a cooking competition, please PLEASE at least be a little prepared. If I were to train for this show, these are the things I would start mastering:
1. How to cook an egg.
It is said by some people that the way a chef cooks eggs is a true test of the kind of chef they are. I'm not sure I believe this 100%, but it is true that cooking eggs to order is harder than you think-especially on a crowded day. Poached and sunny side up are the hardest. Ramsey almost always has eggs in at least one challenge if not on a regular basis.
2. Risotto. The method, then the dish.
Risotto is actually a method of cooking rice. Every trained chef should know this which is why it amazes me that everyone flubs this up on the show. Once you master it though, it's pretty darn simple. Ask my friend Daniel-it's the first thing I ever taught him how to make and now he's a pro. (Hi Danny!) In fact...I think he could kick some ass on this show with his mad risotto skillz.
3. Beef/Lamb/Meat of any kind Wellington.
Before anyone knew who Gordon Ramsey was I saw a show in which he visited a private home of an everyday woman who wanted to learn to cook Wellington. Not individual ones but a huge tenderloin wrapped in yummy golden pastry. I remember him telling her that Wellington is one of the hardest things for some people to master but when done right, it's heavenly. I disagree slightly that it's hard and agree 100% that it is heavenly. In any case, if you do not know what "black and blue" means in regard to making Wellington you have no business even thinking about auditioning.
4. How to cook scallops.
Really-this one amazes me because they are quite possibly the easiest things to cook. Not to use Daniel as an example for everything but I remember the look on his face when, after he cooked about 40 scallops for a group of our friend (to order), he exclaimed, "That's it?!" Yes. That's it.
5. How to shuck clams, oysters or any shellfish.
This one, I have to admit, is hard for me. I have the know how but I do not have the hand strength. I would easily get voted off the show with this one but would do my best before the show to strengthen the fleshy part of my thumb area (which is the part that always hurts me) before hand.
6. How to fabricate (break down, carve, etc) meat.
How many times have you heard Gordo yell, "Aw, c'mon! You wasted the best part!" Cutting meat off of the huge bones it comes on is an art.
There are just a few things I'd work on off the bat if I were thinking of (and rest assured, I am NOT) auditioning for Hell's Kitchen. These are things that anyone who has any experience in kitchens should already have a grip on, but mastering them would be key. I really don't know why some of the people on the show haven't done their homework. It sort of pisses me off.
Can you tell? :)