- Food and Cooking
Season Premiere Of Hells Kitchen Season Eleven Filmed In Las Vegas
The Filming Of Hells Kitchen In Las Vegas Was A Good Time!
I recently attended the filming of the season premiere of season eleven of the television show "Hells Kitchen" here in Las Vegas. This filming was the first time they had a live audience for the show, and it took place at the Rio Hotel near the strip in Las Vegas.
We all had to line up early for the show, and there were going to be about 1,200 people in the audience for the show. From the length of this line waiting to get into the theater, it was hard to tell if we were going to make it inside the studio or not! After nearly two hours in line, we FINALLY got inside the Penn & Teller showroom. I was just happy that they hadn't started filming the show yet!
A few minutes after we were seated, the show began. After some instructions from the stage managers and the director of the show, telling us when to applaud, when to give a standing ovation and other instructions, the lights went down.
The contestants were arriving in a shuttle and after the shuttle parked, the curtain went up and we burst into applause. The contestants were supposed to be surprised that there was a live audience present for the taping, so that was fun.
Once Gordon Ramsay walked out, everyone gave him a standing ovation. He seemed to genuinely appreciate that the audience was being so nice. He really was not too much like his gruff and sometimes super critical television persona. That was interesting! Sometimes when you see things on TV, they aren't always what they seem! I think some of it is that he is playing a part for the show.
One thing that totally surprised me was how much use of the F-bomb there was. It happened all throughout the show, both by Gordon Ramsay and by the contestants. How times have changed! I can remember when simple words like Hell were "bleeped." Am I dating myself by mentioning "bleeping?" I can remember television "censors," especially for TV that was filmed ahead of time. If any curse words occurred, they were "bleeped" out of the final edit.
Chef Gordon Ramsay had each of the contestants step up to the microphone and introduce themselves, tell a little bit about themselves, and say why they thought they should be the next Head Chef at his new restaurant opening within the next year or so at Caesar's Palace Hotel.
That is the "Grand Prize" that contestants are aiming for during season eleven, and the winner of season eleven of Hells Kitchen will have the job of head chef at a salary of $250,000. Can you imagine that kind of money for being a head chef? Makes me think I should have taken cooking just a little more seriously!
The Competition Quickly Heated Up!
Once all the contestants were introduced, it was time to go into the kitchen and each chef was supposed to prepare their "signature dish" for the competition. I was a little surprised that we didn't actually watch the cooking portion, even though the show was being taped to be aired at a later time. The cooking portion of the show was all done in a kitchen in another location.
The audience members were entertained by other audience members who went up onstage and did things like impressions of Food Network chefs. Some also took the microphone and sang songs in an entertaining competition for prizes. One of the best prizes they gave out was two autographed copies of Chef Ramsay's cookbook. Watching these competitions made the time go fairly quickly and before we knew it, the 45 minutes the contestants had to cook their signature dishes was nearly over.
We watched the last fifteen minutes of the competition on a big screen on the stage. It was interesting to see how closely the chefs were all crowded into this kitchen. What a tremendously stressful situation. In many ways, though, I think it mimics the conditions that Chef's will be working under in a restaurant kitchen. So, it seems to be good practice for them.
If they can stand the heat in this kitchen, chances are they will do well when they actually become a chef or a head chef in a big restaurant. The ability to handle the stress is definitely a prerequisite for this job! You have to be able to "stand the heat" in these kitchens for sure!
The REAL Test, The Chef Ramsay Taste Test!
Not too much later, the Hells Kitchen contestants were brought back onto the stage along with Chef Ramsay. This was ultimately the real test of their cooking skill... the TASTE of the dishes they had prepared, along with the presentation of their dishes on the plates.
The contestants went over by Chef Gordon Ramsay, two at a time, and they presented their finalized dishes to him for his tasting. He was pretty funny at times, and at other times, very tough and harshly critical of the chef's work. But at the same time, if one of the chef's did an outstanding job and the dish looked and tasted good, he did give them compliments.
I won't give away the winners of this season opener. I don't want to spoil it for viewers who will see the show when it airs in the summer of 2013. Some of the more interesting dishes were grilled prawns with venetian pesto, stuffed rib eye steak with Gouda and caramelized onions, pork loin roulade stuffed with mushrooms.The grilled prawns looked absolutely delicious, although I am very partial to prawns and shrimp.
Other dishes that looked like they would be delicious were seared scallops and other seared types of fish. One dish that definitely did NOT sound too good was deep fried asparagus. Chef Ramsay looked at the audience with an exasperated look on his face and asked "would ANYONE in the audience DEEP FRY asparagus?" The answer from this audience was a resounding "no!"
There was one lamb dish that premiered that according to Chef Ramsay was "F-ing" raw. He berated the chef by saying "you had 45 minutes to cook this and it is F-ing raw in the middle?" They had said in an email we received prior to the television taping that there was a possibility that some audience members would be able to taste some of the dishes... but it never happened. In a way, I'm glad it didn't! Someone would have gotten SICK from "raw" lamb! Chef Ramsay didn't even try it... he just cut into it and saw that it was "F-ing raw." Ewwww!
At this point, Chef Ramsay reminded the contestants that "this is a serious cooking competition" and "Given 45 minutes, this should be better!" One contestant was especially cute when she asked Chef Ramsay, "could we PRAY before you bust my balls?" It was really humorous. She DID say a prayer, too, before he tasted and then critiqued the dish she had prepared.
The interaction and banter between these prospective chefs and Chef Ramsay was really what made the show interesting. There was one guy in the competition with a Mohawk haircut. He had the Hells Kitchen logo shaved into the side of his head! Chef Ramsay had to kid him about his hair, and the guy had said that he was an ex-military man and that he should win the competition because he "paid attention to detail."
At one point, there was a guy in the second row in the audience that caught Chef Ramsay's attention, and the Chef called him up to the stage. This guy had a Mohawk haircut, too! Chef Ramsay asked him "are you guys twins or brothers?" It was pretty funny!
There was another contestant that attempted a lamb dish, which apparently was pretty good. There were bones in it though, and Chef Ramsay asked "Where is the f-ing lamb?" She replied "In the f-ing kitchen I guess!" It was pretty entertaining. Some of the contestants could definitely hold their own and they went toe to toe with Gordon Ramsay!
Some of the dishes he critiqued, he said that they lacked in presentation, but the taste was wonderful. He said that they were heading in the right direction, so that was encouraging! He seemed to enjoy one of the dishes of pan seared "Wahoo." This was served along with vegetables "vinaigrette." A VERY funny part of the show happened when Chef Ramsay took one look at "Eggs Benedict" and asked "did you f-ing throw up on that plate?" He said that Julia Child was turning in her grave, and that it looked like "bad mayonnaise." He was at a "loss for words" with that dish.
Another dish that wasn't a favorite was cooked penne with meatballs. He asked if the contestant had gotten the dish from "the buffet." Buffet food here in Las Vegas varies pretty widely as far as quality. Sometimes you will find a very good buffet, other times.... not so much. A lot of it depends on the skills of the cooks employed by each buffet.
Chef Ramsay said that the "arrogance" of the Chef's should be matched by what is on their plate at the time of the dishes presentation! That's very true! Confidence is a wonderful thing, but needs to be backed by skill and experience. Some contestants had it, some didn't.
At one point, someone showcased a plate of duck with an orange glaze and red wine reduction, and the duck was also "f-ing raw" according to Chef Ramsay. Raw in the middle, chewy in others. He made it sound sooooo appetizing! It makes the show more fun when humor is interjected into the dialogue, and Chef Ramsay is very good at this.
The oldest chef contestant in the history of the show made an appearance in this show, and Chef Ramsay talked to him for a few minutes. He was 51 years old and had previously worked as a "line chef." Chef Ramsay told him that "the line is where head chefs are made!"
Watching The Taping Was Overall A Good Experience!
Watching the taping of the Hells Kitchen season eleven premiere show was definitely an interesting experience and fun as well!
It's interesting to watch the cameras as they extend out into the audience for closeups of audience members to get their reactions to things happening onstage. These cameras are on long horizontal black metal posts that reminded me of the posts used for traffic lights.
The "Grand Prize" of season eleven is a job as a head chef in Chef Ramsay's new restaurant opening at Caesars Palace here in Las Vegas. The team that won this first competition got to take behind the scenes tours at Caesars Palace hotel, featuring a nice ride in the comfort of a limousine. The team that did NOT win got the prize of riding through "Death Valley" in a not so nice vehicle. I won't give it away so it will be a surprise for viewers once the show airs.
And I most certainly am NOT going to say WHICH team won! I want that to be a surprise for those that watch the season premiere show next summer. Watching this taping was a great experience. And I did learn something... I definitely would NOT be able to stand the heat in this kitchen, so it's best that I "get out of the kitchen!"