Hell’s Kitchen S18E14 What’s Your Motto


In this review of Hell’s Kitchen, we get ever closer to our final two competing chefs. Who will leave tonight, and for what shocking reason?

We begin immediately after Heather’s elimination. Mia is understandably aggravated about her nomination, and she is particularly annoyed with Bret. She has worked with Ariel and Heather quite a bit, but she has had just one service with Bret. And yet, his entire concept of her as a cook is based on what Heather has told him. She tries to explain to him that he needs to work with her and form his own opinion, but he refuses to listen.

Instead, Bret tells us, “let her stay in her fancy little private chef life in Miami and do her little one plate in forty-five minutes,” all while the title under him says “Bret, private chef in Florida.”

Before the chefs can wind down, they are called down to the kitchen again for a midnight snack. Ramsay introduces them to Dan Drake of Dancakes. Drake has made an intricate pancake portrait of Ramsay and each of the remaining four competitors. Ramsay reminds them that the winning chef will be the face of the restaurant in Las Vegas, and that they need to exhibit showmanship, like Dan and his pancakes. They are then given their next challenge- create a dish to be cooked and served tableside for a group of esteemed chefs. They will do this first thing in the morning, which is why they needed the challenge introduced after a long day of challenges, service, and elimination.

They all retreat to the dorm with their pancake face and syrup to plan their tableside dish. In the morning, they are introduced to their guest judges- Ted Hopson of Bellwether, Geoff Baumberger of Ocean Prime, Michael Fiorelli of Love and Salt, and Joel Miller of the Wallace. Each restaurant is represented at a table including the aforementioned chef as well as other respected personnel from the restaurant.

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There will be four rounds so that each contestant can take turns serving each of the four tables. Each round is just fifteen minutes. Almost everyone has chosen shrimp as it cooks quickly. Mia is doing a cilantro, lime and tequila shrimp scampi. Bret is sticking with his Italian roots and doing a more classic shrimp scampi with cavatelli. Motto is doing a New Orleans barbecue shrimp. Only Ariel has gone outside the box. She is attempting something she’s never done before and is combining two dishes with nary a shrimp in sight. She is making albondigas (a Mexican meatball soup) but with handmade pork dumplings.

In round one, everyone is a little nervous. Mia is asked what kind of shrimp she is using and she stumbles for a while before admitting she doesn’t know. In round two, Motto just barely gets his dish plated in time and serves the last person at his table in the final second of the round. In round three, Mia is seeming a little giddy to chef Michael Fiorelli, so he asks her, “between us, have you had a little tequila this morning?”

In the end, Ariel’s gamble to be unique pays off and she wins. Her award is horseback riding on the beach and a massage. She can pick one chef to join her and I admit I am surprised when she picks Bret. She tells us that she wanted to take one of the men as they haven’t been out in so long. She might have also taken Bret to keep Mia from being stuck with Bret all day.

The punishment that Mia and Motto will endure is to wash, peel, and zest limes, lemons, grapefruit, oranges and kumquats. They also need to make sangria. This is punishment number 9 for poor Motto. He has endured shucking corn, cleaning up after animals, cutting ice cubes, making birthday cake, cleaning the dining room, making gelato, making fortune cookies, cleaning the dorm, and now the citrus punishment. Through it all, he has grinned and made the best of things, and he continues to do so today.

HELLÕS KITCHEN: Veteran Bret in the ÒWhatÕs Your Motto?Ò episode of HELLÕS KITCHEN airing Friday, Feb. 1 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © 2018 FOX Broadcasting. CR: FOX

Meanwhile, Ariel is laughing at Bret on his horse. He keeps pointing his finger to tell the horse where to go…from the back of the horse where the horse can’t see him. Not that the horse would follow his finger anyway. After weaving up and down the beach, they go for their massage, but Bret won’t stop moaning and saying things like, “oh yeah, right there” which I find incredibly off-putting. So much for Ariel being able to relax and enjoy some peace and quiet.

Back in the kitchen, it is time for service and this time, each chef will take a turn at the pass. It’s a high-pressure job. They need to call the orders and monitor the entire flow of the kitchen. They also must ensure the quality of every dish that goes out to the dining room- the taste, temperature, and plating. If that wasn’t enough, sous chef Christina will be sending up sabotages to see if they can spot errors in the food.

Bret is up first. He seems very comfortable at the pass and his overly masculine energy seems to me to really tone down as he focuses. He catches the sabotage of a carbonara sent with the wrong pasta but misses the sabotage in his own dish. Hell’s Kitchen has Bret’s risotto on the menu, but when he gets the risotto with orzo instead of rice, he misses it entirely.

Ariel goes up to the pass next. She seems calm and commanding. She catches it when she is given tuna instead of beef tartare. But when Ramsay swaps out a squeeze bottle of fennel puree for onion puree, she misses it. He even has her taste the puree by itself, but she fumbles to figure out what is wrong. It needs salt? Cream? Sugar? He ultimately has to tell her it is onion. This one seemed particularly devious to me since she never would have guessed that her puree could be swapped, and as she was still working with a creamy white puree. All the same, she catches it when Bret sends up a carbonara with scrambled egg.

Mia is next to the pass and her inexperience shows. She seems to have a lot of wasted, frantic movement. She is all over the place. She also doesn’t sound confident as she calls her first order, and it seems to me that Ramsay is giving her more guidance than he did with Bret or Ariel. She catches her first sabotage, a monkfish wellington swapped for a lobster wellington. But when Ramsay subs in a ribeye for the New York strip, she cuts it without noticing the change. Later, Bret sends up a risotto that has too much garlic and no texture and it is Ramsay that takes it back to Bret and tastes the refire. Before the end of her shift, though, she does seem more confident, catches a number of errors, and has less wasted movement. She just needs practice.

HELLÕS KITCHEN: L-R: Veteran Ariel, rookie Chris, veteran Bret, rookie Gizzy and host/chef Gordon Ramsay in the ÒWhatÕs Your Motto?Ò episode of HELLÕS KITCHEN airing Friday, Feb. 1 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © 2018 FOX Broadcasting. CR: FOX

Motto is last up to the pass. He immediately gets his first sabotage- an incorrectly written ticket. It asks for a salmon tartare, which isn’t on the menu. He catches that one, but like everyone else, he misses his second sabotage. Ramsay swaps a veal chop in for a pork chop and Motto decides it is undercooked pork.

All in all, they did well. They still must return to the dorm and decide on one person to eliminate. Mia immediately picks Bret for always staying in his Italian comfort zone. Bret retaliates by picking Mia. He claims that everything was waiting on her meat station all night, but she counters that no meat came back. Meanwhile, Bret’s carbonaras and risottos where coming back.

Motto and Ariel need some time to think. After a bit, Motto comes to the table and says one of the most shocking things I have heard in Hell’s Kitchen. He tells the chefs that he is putting himself up for elimination.

Motto explains to a shocked Bret and Mia and a weeping Ariel that, “I would never give up on any of y’all. But I also can’t give up on my friends and family back home and I’ve gotta accept that….I want to go back. I want to start a family. I want to raise the culinary standard in Baton Rouge. That’s what I’ve been working on the last five years. I’m not ready to give up on that…I’m the support system for so many people back home.”

When they present to Ramsay for elimination and Motto tells him he has nominated himself, Ramsay is speechless. Motto tells him, “there’s not a give up bone in my body and I don’t want to give up on Baton Rouge. I want to go back and share this wealth of knowledge that you’ve given me to elevate that town’s culinary scene.”

HELLÕS KITCHEN: L-R: Veteran Bret, rookie Chris, veteran Ariel and rookie Gizzy in the ÒWhatÕs Your Motto?Ò episode of HELLÕS KITCHEN airing Friday, Feb. 1 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © 2018 FOX Broadcasting. CR: FOX

Ramsay tells Motto he has never met a more sincere chef and “one you’re done in Baton Rouge and you’re ready for the next move, call me.” Motto leaves with his head high and for the first time that I can recall, I welled up over the elimination of a chef. I can only imagine the great things Motto will do and I can’t wait to eat his food someday.

We aren’t given much time to mourn Motto because Ramsay can only have two people in the finale, so he will eliminate another chef right now. Ariel is announced as the first chef in the finale and he praises her for her consistent performance. That leaves Bret and Mia, but we won’t hear who makes it through until next time as they’ve left us with a cliff hanger.

So who will face Ariel in the finale? Mia is brilliant in challenges, winning more than anyone, perhaps in Hell’s Kitchen history. She is clearly wonderful with flavors and can conceive winning new dishes. On the other hand, she does seem a little frantic and out of control on the line or at the pass, with lots of wasted movement. She is inexperienced, but she can learn quickly as she proved at the pass tonight. She would certainly bring creativity, a great palate, youth and vitality to the executive chef position. Also, if she moves forward, we will have a rookie versus a veteran in the finale, the promise of this season.

Bret is more experienced and seems to enjoy the pressure of cooking on the line or working the pass. However, as Mia pointed out, he rarely strays from cooking Italian food. Even more concerning to me is that he is also a very old school chef, one of what I think may be a dying breed, especially at a high-profile restaurant. More chefs are getting called out for inappropriate or abusive behavior. Bret’s overly aggressive masculinity isn’t really the face of the high-profile restaurant anymore. I just keep thinking of that awful moaning he was doing during the massage, or when he opened the car door for Ariel (who beat him in the cooking challenge) and said, “let me get that door for you, darling. Let me get that door for you, girl.” As Ramsay said, the executive chef will be the face of the Las Vegas restaurant. Can he trust the overly emotional, stuck-in-the-last-century Bret to be that face? Time will tell.

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Best line of the night: This yet again goes to Motto. Referring to Ramsay’s classic insult, Motto tells Ramsay, it’s “better to be a pancake that a donut.” Motto, you will be sorely missed.