Hell’s Kitchen finale part 1 review S18E15: Rollercoaster Ride


In this Hell’s Kitchen finale review, we discover the two finalists who will battle for the reward of a position at Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen in Las Vegas with a salary of $250,000. But first, we must eliminate one final chef.

Last time, Motto stepped out of the competition so that he can continue his dream of elevating the cuisine of Baton Rouge. This left Ariel, Mia, and Bret in the competition, and Ramsay selected Ariel as the first finalist. We begin this episode with Ramsay selecting Mia as the second finalist, eliminating Bret. As Mia goes to Ramsay for a congratulatory hug, Bret tells Ariel, “you better *bleep* win!” Ramsay complements Bret on his passion and sends him off with his black jacket intact.

For the final dinner service, Mia will have Jocky as her sous chef while Ariel will have Christina. Though it is 12:17 am, both finalists get right to work planning their menu with their sous chefs. It will be an interesting showdown as the two women have similar styles. Ariel is planning a Spanish/Latin menu with an Asian influence. Mia is planning a Latin/Puerto Rican menu.

As Ariel spitballs her menu ideas, she mentions a mackerel dish. Christina is concerned and asks her if the mackerel is approachable for most people, but Ariel does not back down. Meanwhile, Jocky worries that Mia’s menu is too repetitive. Mia explains that the doesn’t want her cooks to have to do too much. Jocky counters, “you just got to get faith in people. They’re here to support you.” Mia explains to him that most of the people in the competition don’t like her, and we get a short montage of her disputes with Heather, Bret and Kanae. She is worried her team will sabotage her as she knows the eliminated chefs will be returning to cook her final dinner service.

HELLÕS KITCHEN: L-R: Veteran Ariel, host/chef Gordon Ramsay and rookie Mia in the special two-hour ÒA Rollercoaster Ride / The Grand FinaleÓ Season 18 finale episode of HELLÕS KITCHEN airing Friday, Feb. 8 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © 2019 FOX Broadcasting. CR: FOX

After a long night of planning, the chefs are up early for a call down to the dining room. Ramsay wants to inspire them, so he shows them both videos from home. Mia is treated to encouragement from her sister, niece, and parents, all of whom are enthusiastically on her side. Ariel’s video is more subdued but still full of love and comes from her friend and her parents.

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Ramsay then tells them it is time for their final challenge. For this, they will be judged by leading chefs in the industry, James Beard winners, chefs with Michelin stars. To begin, they have flown in a “legendary team” from Arizona…Ariel’s parents. This is followed by Mia’s parents from Puerto Rico. Rather than a challenge, the women get to spend some quality time with their families.

After time with mom and dad, the women head to brunch with Ramsay. He insists on reminiscing about their highs and lows this season and reminds Ariel of her mistake of sending raw halibut to his daughter’s table. The ladies then share their menu with Ramsay, and here we encounter a slight snag.

Mia begins by explaining she will do a pollo a la brasa- a brick oven chicken. Ariel is planning the same dish. Each is preparing it in a slightly different way, but the comparison will be easy and direct between the dishes. Mia will be using the chicken thighs while Ariel will use the breast. I think Mia has the better plan here as thighs are much juicier and more flavorful, in my opinion, as well as being more forgiving to cook. Chicken breast really shows any cooking flaw, becoming tough and dry in a heartbeat.

After brunch, Ramsay tells them that he has arranged for Six Flags to be closed to the public so they can have the park to themselves and their parents. The ladies head off for an evening of roller coasters, which I bet was a great way to burn off their nervous energy. After riding nearly everything, Ramsay meets them for one final ride. This one hasn’t even opened to the public yet, so they will be some of the first to ride it.

He directs them to a back door to a ride called “Full Throttle.” They follow a confusing path of scaffolding that reminds me of the band in Spinal Tap getting lost backstage. Blinded by bright lights, they unknowingly step up onto a stage to find a horde of cheering people waiting to watch that promised final challenge.

For the final challenge, they will have sixty minutes to cook five dishes- a cold appetizer, a hot appetizer, a seafood entrée, a chicken entrée, and a red meat entrée. I assume these are from their proposed menu. They will do all this with the help of their sous chef in a kitchen set up directly underneath a running rollercoaster.

HELLÕS KITCHEN: Veteran Ariel in the special two-hour ÒA Rollercoaster Ride / The Grand FinaleÓ Season 18 finale episode of HELLÕS KITCHEN airing Friday, Feb. 8 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © 2019 FOX Broadcasting. CR: FOX

Ramsay wasn’t lying when he said the judges for the final challenge would be top in the field. The cold appetizer is judged by Mary Sue Milliken. Mia presents a Hamachi tiradito, a Peruvian version of sashimi. She has accented it with black truffle and sturgeon caviar. Ariel presents a shrimp ceviche rojo with avocado espuma and plantain chips. Chef Milliken does not think the truffle is needed in Mia’s dish, and does not understand the avocado mousse in Ariel’s. She awards Mia nine out of ten points and gives Ariel eight.

For hot appetizers, Ramsay brings in Rick Moonen. Mia presents mofongo with plantain and pork fat which he finds a little under-seasoned. Ariel presents a wagyu tataki with spicy aioli, red onion, garlic chips and micro herbs. She earns a nine to Mia’s eight and their scores are tied.

For the seafood entrée, our judge is Josiah Citrin. Mia presents a dish which I sadly could not catch (I need to know more about Peruvian food) but looks a bit like a paella. It features cuttlefish, shrimp and prawns. Ariel presents her somewhat controversial mackerel. The chef points out the risk of using this fish but pronounces it delicious. Ariel earns a nine to Mia’s eight.

For the chicken entrée, the judge is none other than Hubert Keller. Fun fact: I went on a Top Chef cruise in 2013 and Hubert Keller DJ’d at a dance party on the ship. Life can be really weird sometimes. Anyway, Mia presents her pollo a la brasa marinated in soy sauce, paprika and cumin. Ariel presents hers made with a sauce created from slow-roasted chicken skin blended into chicken jus which sounds absolutely amazing. Despite her sauce, Ariel earns an eight to Mia’s nine and we are tied yet again.

So it all comes down to the final dish, judged by Michael Cimarusti who is dismayed to find he will be the one to decide the winner. Mia presents her beef topped with an herb salad and accompanied by tostones, roasted tomato and garlic aioli. Ariel presents a mole rubbed rib cap, mole red wine demi, roasted carrots and watercress. As she usually does in individual challenges, Mia wins. Ariel reminds us, though, that the competition is more about running a service and she can’t be more right. Having an amazing palate and creative menu planning is great but it is not necessarily the key to being a good executive chef.

Mia has earned the right of first pick of the returning chefs for her brigade. She selects Roe as she is “organized and efficient.” Ariel selects Kanae for her bright personality and hustle, much to Kanae’s relief as she has just told us she does not want to be on Mia’s team. Mia selects Trev for his attention to detail, and Ariel selects Bret. Mia completes her team with Jose and Heather. Ariel selects Motto and gets Scotley by default (no offense to Scotley).

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To help them bond with their new brigade, Ramsay has them ride Full Throttle, which turns out to be an actual ride and not just a trick to get them on stage. Next time, we will see who can hang on the longest on this Hell’s Kitchen roller coaster to take the win.