By the end of the Hell’s Kitchen Season 19 episode 12, only five chefs would be standing. In the moment that all the talented chefs crave, it was finally time to put on that black jacket. But, that Hell’s Kitchen honor has to be earned. Did the emotion of cooking for their lives over season the dish?
In many ways, Hell’s Kitchen Season 19 has raised the bar on the popular Gordon Ramsay culinary competition. From showcasing the best that Las Vegas has to offer to the food creativity on a plate, the decision to host this season in Las Vegas has seemed to pay off in dividends.
As Chris Angel revealed the coveted black jackets, the reality is that earning one would take more than just a magic trick. Although the chefs are only as good as the plate presented, these dishes need to represent their culinary knowledge. Even though Hell’s Kitchen Season 19 is a journey, each chef needs to deliver in the moment.
For the first challenge, the chefs had to tackle taste it make it. While these chefs have learned to re-create the popular Gordon Ramsay dishes, figuring out all the ingredients isn’t as simple as a jigsaw puzzle.
Whether it was the pressure or the lack of confidence, only a handful of chefs got the fish correct in the first challenge. This scenario is somewhat concerning. Although white fish can be similar, not all white fish is the same. It is a lesson that some sushi fans have learned the hard way.
At the same time, the other components were quite difficult. Deciphering the vegetable in a puree takes skill. Given all the other flavors in a puree, it can lead a chef down the wrong path.
As Chef Ramsay was tasting the dishes, two chefs got an “interesting” which made everyone assume that these chefs were spot on with the dishes. Since she got all the ingredients correct, including the endive garnish, Mary Lou earned the first black jacket.
In the past couple of episodes, Mary Lou has been on a roll. It seems that it is her time to shine.
While Mary Lou was the first chef, Declan earned his black jacket because he finished the dish quite well. From the shallots to the olive oil, Declan proved that his palate was on point.
For the next challenge, the chefs had to create a dish based on a mystery box of ingredients. With each chef having their own group of ingredients, the creativity that the chefs brought to the plate was impressive.
Kori made a very smart choice with her dish. Given that spinach was an ingredient, she knew that another spinach puree was not going to impress Gordon Ramsay. Her riff on a spinach chimichurri was smart. Although her cauliflower was a little under seasoned, that spinach component earned her a black jacket.
Also, stepping up to the challenge was Cody. His pork chop was beautifully cooked. More importantly, his plate was a stunning presentation of colors and flavors. As Chef Ramsay said, it was probably his best plate of food all season.
With two chefs remaining and only one black jacket to be awarded, Niki and Amber had the ultimate face off. Both chefs were asked to be inspired by their childhood and what food means to them. With stories about family, this moment was more than just a cooking competition. It was a test to see if the chefs could capture that emotion on the plate.
Both Amber and Niki presented amazing dishes and in other scenarios either chef would have earned a black jacket. Amber presented a take on beef bourguignon. Her beef was well cooked and the flavors melded together well. It told her story on a plate.
For Niki, her pork chop was more than just a perfectly cooked chop. It showed that a dish from her childhood which might have been tinged with sadness could be elevated into a culinary experience. The flavors came through in every bite.
Since only one chef could earn the last black jacket, Chef Ramsay awarded it to Amber. Her experience might have given her a slight edge.
At the same time, Niki did not have to relinquish her chef coat. In their parting conversation, Chef Ramsay commented that Niki has a great future ahead of her. Having had the biggest culinary journey over the season, she will be a force in the culinary world and Gordon Ramsay is willing to help her. Don’t be surprised if you see her in a Ramsay restaurant in the future.
With the fab five set, the end of Hell’s Kitchen Season 19 is near. Which chef will walk away with the title? Only time will tell.
Who is your bet to win Hell’s Kitchen Season 19? Is there a secret to winning it all?