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Hells Kitchen Rookies vs Veterans - Season 18

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Hells Kitchen Rookies vs Veterans Spoilers and Commentary

It’s half of an All-Stars season.

Hells Kitchen Rookies vs Veterans begins September 28, 2018. Here’s all that you can expect from the 18th season.

We are now two seasons removed from the last time they did an all-newbie cast. Maybe the producers figured that bringing back some familiar faces would help. It is not the worst idea, but we have not seen them try this particular format before – and one would imagine next season will be almost all newcomers. It’s kind of like how Big Brother has in many recent past seasons brought back veteran players. Their 13th season was like this, half vets and half new players, and of course, a vet won. Will that happen here?

Hells Kitchen Rookies vs Veterans: The Cast

The (V-##) means the contestant is a veteran of Hell’s Kitchen returning; the number indicates their prior season.

1 Gizzy Barton 31 Atlanta, GA
2 Mia Castro 28 Miami Beach, FL
3 Ariel Contreras-Fox (V-6) 36 Los Angeles, CA
4 Kevin Cottle (V-6) 44 Middletown, CT
5 Jose DeJesus 34 Bronx, NY
6 Roe DiLeo (V-13) 37 Dallas, TX
7 Jen Gavin (V-4) 37 Dallas, TX
8 T Gregoire (V-14) 34 Atlanta, GA
9 Bret Hauser (V-14) 33 Delray Beach, FL
10 Kanae Houston 25 Los Angeles, CA
11 Scotley Innis 33 Atlanta, GA
12 Trev McGrath (V-8) 38 Chicago, IL
13 Chris Mendonca 25 Boston, MA
14 Chris Motto 35 Baton Rouge, LA
15 Scott Popovic 39 Cleveland, OH
16 Heather Williams (V-16) 28 Easton, PA

Hells Kitchen Rookies vs Veterans: Status of the Season

Updated following the end of the season

Hells Kitchen Rookies vs Veterans SEASON OVER

Hells Kitchen Rookies vs Veterans: Ariel Wins

Before Ariel won — as we predicted for quite a while — Motto pulled a BenDeLaCreme and pulled out his own lipstick tube before the finale. Bret then went home, setting up the Ariel/Mia showdown that was apparent since before the halfway point of the season.

Congrats to the winner, and to all of them for being on reality TV.

Hells Kitchen Rookies vs Veterans: Heather Eliminated in 5th

Some (we) would argue Heather should have gone home right before the black jackets. She did not, but she entered the first black jacket service as a clear underdog. It was another tough night for her, and even though the edit tried to make it look like Mia was getting a bad rap, nobody but Heather was leaving.

Speaking of the editors, can they not foreshadow the hell out of Ariel and Mia being the final two? They were the only two who figured out that breakfast was the “taste it, now make it” challenge. They went on the reward together. Mia said she “wants to be in the finale with Ariel.” Come on, people. Some of us have been watching this show long enough to know what’s up around here.

Okay, fine. It might be Ariel and Motto.

Hells Kitchen Rookies vs Veterans: Kanae Eliminated in 6th

In order to get a black jacket in the final five, as we have seen in some past years, you have to win your way there. Five jackets were awarded in three rounds: two, another two, and then one.

First Set: “Winner’s Edit” Ariel and Mia, in possible finale foreshadowing.

Second Set: Bret and Motto.

Fnal Jacket: Heather.

No major issue with any of the first four who made it to the Black Jacket Lounge.

A final note, I was impressed by Kanae’s positive attitude after getting sent home. For what little it’s worth, I think she should have won the final round.

Hells Kitchen Rookies vs Veterans: Trev Eliminated in 7th

The Bret vs. Trev drama ran its course and Trev, rightfully, went home. That red kitchen, which is to say the men’s team, is a disaster, which has happened in some recent past seasons.

Ariel is definitely getting the “winner’s edit.” We suspected it before but it’s becoming quite clear. She has been so rock-solid consistent and they never show her as the target of yelling. Either she will win the season or she’ll get picked off in shocking fashion at the end like Nick in All Stars.

Hells Kitchen Rookies vs Veterans: Jose Eliminated in 8th

This season started at about the same time as Survivor: David vs. Goliath. That show had 20 castaways on their latest season, which ended before Christmas. It’s now 2019 and this show still has seven people left. The schedule conspired against Gordon Ramsay: the 2018 World Series and then the holidays. Good thing NFL games are not played on Friday nights.

Having been weeks since the last time we saw any of them, yes, you probably had to watch the recap preview at the start of the episode, rather than fast-forwarding on the DVR.

Anyway, it doesn’t matter if Trev had a bad day with the blind taste test: if you have watched this show, you knew he was not leaving. He’s too much of an antagonist towards the rest of his team. His odds of winning are minimal but they need him around to stir the pot. This is unlike RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars 4, where they got rid of pot-stirrer Gia Gun third. The difference is that this is a cooking show, and that’s full of drag queens; drama is inherent to the latter.

If I had to guess who’s getting the “winner’s edit” right now, I would say Mia or Ariel.

Hells Kitchen Rookies vs Veterans: Scotley Eliminated in 9th

Breaking news: Trev and Scotley did not like each other. They probably still do not like each other. In the December 14 episode, the Hell’s Kitchen producers finally broke up the adversaries. You’d think they would milk this a little longer.

The red team lost the challenge, the reward of which was a trip to Las Vegas (where, fittingly, Kanae found the bidet). They then lost the whole service as an incohesive mess, yelling at one another and failing at basic cooking elements. Dinner services in the two kitchens were a complete 180 from the episode prior.

If Scotley was intended to be the “villain” of the season, he did not get a true villain edit and they don’t usually go home this soon. In some notable earlier seasons, you KNEW who the villain was and they stuck around longer than 9th place. Kevin was supposed to be that guy in Season 6 and he got to the finale, as did Russell in Season 8. Suzanne was another in Season 6, getting to the black jackets. Elise is the all-time HK villain, who got a black jacket on Season 9 and came up just short last season. Lacey on Season 5 is an exception, as she also went out 9th.

Hells Kitchen Rookies vs Veterans: Roe Eliminated in 10th

It’s been so long since we had an episode, we had to read our own synopsis of the last one to catch up with the action.

We waited three weeks to watch the women ace the challenge and then bomb the dinner service, which was Tilly Ramsay’s Sweet 16. This resulted in Roe’s departure.

Mia had appeared to be one of the rookies who could win. She still might, but her edit changed for the negative in this episode. We started to see someone who failed at the fish station and then shifted the blame. Roe, however, was the one who went home on meat. Sort of like when Kevin was dismissed, Ramsay brought up that she wasn’t her old Hell’s Kitchen self. We still have nine chefs left and a number are veterans, but you wonder (assuming an order of elimination was not predetermined by the producers) how much higher a bar the returning chefs have.

Hells Kitchen Rookies vs Veterans: Gizzy Eliminated in 11th

Gizzy lost the battle of ATL to Scotley in a “Cook For Your Life” challenge. How did we get there? The first challenge, that they have done before, in which you start with X number of chefs in the kitchen and one peels off every eight minutes. Trev lost the challenge for the red team by nailing his dish but forgetting to put the fish on it. He and Scotley would go on to have some issues. In any event, the first three chefs to drop out in each kitchen were up for elimination.

To say Gizzy’s dish was “rustic” was an understatement, not to mention a charitable appraisal. She grilled a fish whole and plated it with a half-lemon and a butternut squash. Scotley’s dish was unimpressive but at least he didn’t serve Gordon Ramsay fish scales. Simple if done right can be good, but basic (with some technical errors) gets you sent home.

Scotley was being a jerk to Trev, which may have been an editing phenomenon more than anything, but we only know what the producers tell us. Every Hell’s Kitchen sesaon has a villain and it seems like they are setting up for either Scotley to be that guy or for a Scotley-Trev rivalry to be the main source of antagonism for the rest of the season. Now, Trev shook things up on his first season as an antagonist, ruffling feathers and passing comments. Note how we said he was AN antagonist, not THE antagonist, as he was on a season with Russell, one of the biggest villains in the history of Hell’s Kitchen. Antagonists tend to stick around a while on this show.

Ariel and Mia appear to be the two strongest chefs at this point in the season, with Motto probably the best of the men. Scotley should have gone home instead of Kevin but he will stick around a little while longer. Roe is starting to stand out again and Jose seems to be elevating his game. Heather is on a downward trend, or at best treading water.

Hells Kitchen Rookies vs Veterans: Chris Walks In 13th; T Eliminated in 12th

We speculated when the double boot would come, and here it is. Chris, after winning the challenge for the red team, left the competition for personal reasons. T then got an unceremonious boot after a disaster at the meat station with Heather, a fellow former runner-up.

Hell’s Kitchen is not the place to be when you are in a mental state still being restored; hopefully, Chris got whatever help he needed. As for T, she was as Bret said a possible Black Jacket this season. That is definitely not happening now, but to be honest, Ramsay could have justifiably sent either her or Heather out of the game. Kanae was a dishonorable mention for her fish station, but the meat did them in.

Hells Kitchen Rookies vs Veterans: Kevin Eliminated In 14th

You read that right: Kevin, Season 6 runner-up, went home as the third boot of the season. This is no doubt a big shock for fans of the show who may have considered him the best contestant to never win. Count us in that category.

Even though, in our opinion, Scotley had a worse service and does not seem to exhibit any tangible leadership skills (and Chris screwed him on scallops), Kevin’s departure was (somewhat) fair. It’s a blindside to those who remember him on his first time around the block, but let’s be honest: he didn’t have it this time. Kevin was not nominated at all in Season 6, and here he was up twice in four episodes with several clear problems developing at his stations. This is not to say that he has not been successful outside of Hell’s Kitchen, because he has. Comingling Hell’s Kitchen and baseball terms, however, he lost his fastball and/or spark.

This was in Kevin’s case an example of coming back and hurting your legacy the second time around. Had he not come back on Hell’s Kitchen, sure, he would still be remembered for his “villain edit” in Season 6. Yet, it’s kind of like Mickey Mantle playing beyond his prime and harming his lifetime stats. We should all respect the attempt, but surprisingly, it was a doomed one.

Oh, and any of you who knocked Trev for his Germans “bombing Pearl Harbor” quote, you may want to watch Animal House at some point.

Hells Kitchen Rookies vs Veterans: The Experiment Ends

Just when we thought a third chef would go, maybe even – gasp – Kevin, Gordon Ramsay and/or the producers put an end to the “Rookies vs. Veterans” trial. Dinner service went poorly overall for both teams, and with four nominees on the block, none went home. Instead, men went to the red team and women went to the blue team. The colors are off, but otherwise it’s back to the Hell’s Kitchen traditional format. For all intents and purposes, the season reset.

Kevin had the worst service, but then Trev admitted he didn’t actually do anything. Gizzy was not one of the three worst chefs. Chris seems in over his head.

After the World Series break, when will we get the inevitable double elimination?

Hells Kitchen Rookies vs Veterans: Jen Eliminated In 15th

Getting the chop is something that happens to almost every chef that has passed through the doors of Hell’s Kitchen. Being eliminated during dinner service, however, is reserved for usually the worst of the worst performances. You may be surprised that happened to a returning veteran, but then not surprised to learn it was Jen.

She was shaky before, then she cried during the challenge punishment, and then came her second and final dinner service of Season 18. Jen struggled on garnish, and after an evening replete with frustration, she had had enough — of Gordon Ramsay. The chef said Jen didn’t give her enough garnish for the dishes at the pass, at which point Jen accused Ramsay of dumping some out to make her look bad. Ramsay was “clowning” her, she said. After some screaming back and forth and the two accusing one another of lying, Jen was dismissed.

No big loss to the season was had, as now the Blue Team of veterans looks a little stronger overall. She seemed in over her head from the start, and having been on the show 14 years earlier (and coming in fourth), you wonder if she lost a proverbial step or if it’s just been too long and she couldn’t keep up anymore. One thing is for sure, the meltdowns are always entertaining. Her exit was being set up all episode long, so it cannot truly come as a shock. No dinner service meltdown will ever top Joy from Season 12, when someone who could have potentially won the season got frustrated and quit. Jen did not quit, but she was gone either way.

Hells Kitchen Rookies vs Veterans: Scott Eliminated In 16th

We have our first boot of Hell’s Kitchen 18. It was bound to be someone, and that someone was Scott. His brief story arc wasn’t as bad as, say, Antonia’s, but he saw slight success making the top half in the risotto challenge. He bombed the signature dish and bombed again in his only dinner service. First, he couldn’t count shrimp, and then began cooking (in the kitchen) for tableside service that he wasn’t even doing. Asking Gordon Ramsay “what do you need from me?” is the sort of painful lack of assertiveness and attentiveness that the man hates on this show.

Fish and meat got the rookie red team sent out of the kitchen. Cracks have not had a chance to form on the blue side. My expectation is still that Kevin is one of the chefs to beat, and Bret will be overly emotional (again).

Prior to Hells Kitchen Rookies vs Veterans…

…we saw Hell’s Kitchen: All-Stars, the 17th season of the show. It was the first season in series history to feature only returnees, and it was won by Michelle Tribble.

Hells Kitchen Rookies vs Veterans: What Would Surprise Me

  • A veteran not making the finale. It seems set up for a veteran to be favored: they are half of the cast and most of them had deep prior runs in Hell’s Kitchen. All of the veterans losing to the rookies would be an improbability come to life.
  • Kevin not going far. I have to question your Hell’s Kitchen fandom if you don’t remember Kevin. He was the runner-up in Season 6, one of the best seasons of the series. Kevin finished second to Dave “The One-Armed Bandit.” He is arguably one of the best Hell’s Kitchen chefs to never win. Hopefully he doesn’t get the villain edit this time. You can read his Reddit AMA from a few years back.
  • Bret not having at least one explosive outburst. Hey, it is what it is.
  • No double “get back in line!” It seems like Ramsay saves both nominees at least once every season.
  • No “there’s another person I want to hear from first.” And he likes pulling down “safe” contestants if a chef with a bad day is spared nomination.

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