- Buy the DVD
Reviewed by Mike Farley
f you’ve seen Fox’s “Hell’s Kitchen” featuring the wildly obnoxious, ever-demanding and incredibly successful British chef Gordon Ramsay, you finally have your chance to own the first season on DVD.
The premise of the show is that contestants compete each week for the grand prize, which is to be the executive chef at one of Ramsay’s restaurants. There are two teams, blue and red, and there are challenges and competitive dinner services in which the contestants cook for real people in a real restaurant that was built just for the show. The first two discs in the set are the show’s eight inaugural episodes, and it’s kind of cool to go back and remember how the show started out, as well as to see some of the Season One “characters” in action again.
Among the more memorable of those contestants are Michael, who, as history records, won the whole thing; Ralph, the runner-up; Elsie, the mother of six who had no restaurant experience but really knew how to cook; the spiky haired Jessica; politician/cook and big-mouthed Andrew; and of course, Dewberry, who is memorable by his name alone. It’s worth noting that Michael, though he would be the eventual victor, was told by Ramsay in the first episode that his signature dish was “dog shit.” Another of Michael’s memorable moments was when he was out back smoking a cigarette and talking to the huge billboard of Ramsay that looked like it could light up Los Angeles. The third disc of the set contains episodes nine and 10, the latter of which is the 2-hour live finale in which Ramsay chooses Michael over Ralph, including an intense moment in which they each have their hand on a different doorknob, knowing one of them will be able to open it and one of them won’t.
It’s pretty amazing to see that they built this restaurant for the show, and the fact that it’s real means they had to actually have real running water and real customers making real reservations. There are 76 robotic cameras that are hidden so that this reality show can be more genuine. Also, the contestants were hand-picked by Ramsay, and he made a point of picking both executive chefs and housewives, saying he thinks that sometimes just having the pure talent is more important than actual experience. Ramsay goes on to talk about each contestant, and is especially hilarious talking about Dewberry, whose real name is actually Jeff, but since there was another Jeff, he went by his last name. Ramsay calls Dewberry a “muffin” because of the shape of his large body. He also is entertaining when he talks about the fake breasts on certain restaurant patrons, or when he relates what his favorite curse words are -- proving that not only is Ramsay a real person, but that he is a funny, slightly demented one at that.
This is a must-have for fans of “Hell’s Kitchen” or “Kitchen Nightmares,” or for anyone who loves watching reality shows featuring boisterous bosses and real-life and at times dysfunctional contestants. Bravo, Gordon, and we look forward to the Season Two bleep-less set.
Special Features: As you might expect, there are some great extras on the final disc of this 3-DVD set, including an interview with Ramsay himself, but probably the best part about this collection is that it’s “raw and uncensored.” That means the f-bombs fly out of Ramsay’s mouth with no bleeping whatsoever. In addition to the interview with Ramsay, there are also interviews with producers Kent Weed and Arthur Smith and production designer John Janavs.