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More than fire heats up Gordon Ramsay's kitchen as he searches for the scion of his new LA eatery.

Recaps by Don Harpwood, GSNN

Host: Gordon Ramsay
Maitre D'
: Jean Philippe Susilovic
Sous-chefs: Scott Liebfried, Maryann Salcedo
Narrator: Jason Thompson
EP: Paul Jackson, Arthur Smith, Kent Weed
Packager: Granada Entertainment, A. Smith & Co.
Airs: Mondays at 9:00pm ET on Fox

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"The Pasta Conspiracy" - June 27

Last week, a miracle happened. Not only did both teams manage to do a better job than before, but the red team managed to get food out to all their customers, and therefore won. And despite Andrew being nominated yet again, it was Mary Ellen who was eliminated. With 7 left, can the teams somehow do as good this week as they did last week?

[By the way, this episode starts with a warning about "unusually strong language". Does that mean it could possibly get stronger than it has been the past 4 episodes?]

The backlash

Upon returning to the dorms, Jessica went right to the bathroom in tears after her plan to get rid of Andrew backfired, causing her friend Mary Ellen to be sent home. And although she's on the other team, Elsie followed her in and tried to get her to calm down. But it doesn't work, and Jessica walks out, only to be met by Chris, who offers some comfort of his own, as well as a hug. Meanwhile, Andrew is in another room, talking and thinking to himself about how he managed to survive yet again. As he gives himself some time alone, the others are getting something to eat for themselves and talking about how he should be praying at this point. But what Andrew is doing is saying to himself that he did something right this time. And he did; he kept his mouth shut.

Strong and weak pasta links

The next day, the teams line up in the dining room in front of Chef Ramsay, and he mentions that each team is only as good as its weakest link. (Oh, how true...) He then asks Ralph who the blue team's strongest link is, and Ralph responds by saying that he feels he is. Then, when asked who the team's weakest link is, to no one's surprise, Ralph chooses Andrew. Ramsay then turns to Chris, and asks about the red team's strongest link. Not surprisingly, Chris chooses himself, even though Michael is also on the team. And when asked about the weakest, Chris chooses Jimmy. For those who were expecting surprises with those choices, then I bet you were likely disappointed.

Ramsay then announces that Hell's Kitchen will be getting rid of their existing menus, and the next night, they're going Italian with an all-pasta menu. That means a whole new set of dishes for them to know how to make, so he then orders the teams into the kitchen to learn how to make pasta. Ramsay demonstrates how to properly turn a ball of dough into fresh pasta. He then calls Chris over, and has him stick his arms out. After sprinkling some flour on him (including a bit to his face), Ramsay hangs the spaghetti on his arms and head. And no, this isn't meant to be some weird dress-up bit.

Before getting into the next challenge, Ramsay says that Chris will be sitting out this time, to balance the teams. He then says that the teams will have 20 minutes to properly roll and make as much spaghetti pasta as possible, and one teammate has to hold the pasta in the same way that Chris did. And the prize for winning this challenge will be amazing, as Ramsay said. Beforehand, the red team decides that Jimmy will be holding it for them.

The time starts, and the teams start rolling. At first, all 3 on a team can roll, but once pasta is to be hung, someone will have to stop and assume the position, so to speak. With 7:30 left, there's still no pasta from either team hung yet, but soon enough, the teams have some spaghetti ready, which needs to be hung without sticking together. And while Jimmy has his arms out for red, the blue team decides to hang theirs on Andrew. Both teams manage to get plenty of pasta up before time runs out, as Jimmy finds himself tiring of holding his arms out for so long, especially considering the weight of the pasta on him.

After time runs out, it is time for Ramsay to check the pasta and weigh only the spaghetti that meets his standards. Whoever got the most done by weight, wins. Andrew walks over to Ramsay for the blue team's pasta to be checked, and he lets a good amount of it in, though some was crinkled up. Their weight: 2.41 lbs. That's the mark that the red team will have to beat. As Ramsay takes the pasta from Jimmy, the checking starts off well, bringing them up to over 2 lbs. without problems, and with plenty of pasta yet to be checked. But then, Ramsay gets to a knotted bunch of pasta, which he deems uncookable, and throws away. After some more checking, the red team is down by 0.02 lbs., with just one bunch left. He takes out a bit that isn't good, and adds the last of the good pasta in. And so, the red team's final weight is... 2.45 lbs.! The red team wins it, and the blue team is shocked!

With that, despite complaints from the blue team about clumps on red's pasta, Ramsay says that the red team will have an amazing time that afternoon, and for punishment, the blue team will have to roll all the pasta for the next dinner service. Sous-chef Scott brings out the dough, and Ramsay says to start rolling. The blue team is still whining about the condition of the red team's pasta, but Ramsay tells them to just be good losers. So, though still bitter, the blue team starts rolling the pasta, as the red team, excited, returns to the dorms to get changed for the reward.

Notice a theme yet?

After getting changed, the red team walks through the kitchen and through the dining room, as the blue team, despite their bitterness, tells them to have fun. Outside the restaurant, the red team gets taken to a river, where a gondola is waiting for them. The team gets in, and they enjoy the ride, while also enjoying some wine. Back in the kitchen, we get to see Ralph mention how ticked he still is about the result of the challenge. Back in the gondola, the red team is chatting about how blue has to roll so much pasta, and then we see the blue team continue to roll. And the red team finishes the ride with a toast.

After the pasta is done, and the red team has returned from their trip, Michael is back in the dorm, and he's talking to Jessica about how both teams did during that time, and while she says that she doesn't hold any resentment towards the red team, we find out that she does see Michael as being quite manipulative. Later, before going to sleep, Michael tells Chris that he'd like to see the two of them battle it out in the end, but Chris says that he thinks Michael could make a strategy move at some point and put him up on the block. Michael says he wouldn't want to, though... Then, at 3:10AM, while everyone else is asleep, Michael is in the backyard, and he's apparently talking to himself about how he's been quiet, watching, plotting, etc. He says that he needs to be most concerned about himself. And he then looks up at the billboard with Ramsay's face on it, saying that he will win it. Maybe Jessica could indeed be onto something...

Double dinner = possible double disaster?

The sun rises on the next day, and the teams are lined up in front of Ramsay before preparation for the next service starts. He then announces that tonight, in their first attempt as a pasta restaurant, not only is the place booked, but it's double-booked! That means that there will be 2 sittings, and therefore, 2 dinner services! Therefore, Ramsay has decided that for each service, one team cooks, and one team serves. So, each team will have almost double the previous amount of tables to serve, with a new menu, and half the normal time to do it! Talk about raising the difficulty level... Anyway, it is also mentioned that the red team, because they won the challenge the previous day, will get to choose who cooks first and who serves first.

The teams begin the prep, getting ready for the new menu, which consists of 3 types each of appetizers, entrees, and desserts. Chris is aware of the added pressure for tonight's service, but he is confident that the red team can pull through, especially after the previous service. On the other hand, Andrew is also confident, because he is used to cooking pasta, and he feels that that could be an advantage for the blue team.

One hour before the first dinner service of the night, the teams line up for the decision that red has to make. And they have decided to cook first, which means that the blue team will be meeting Jean Philippe in the dining room to prepare it for the service. We find out that each service will have 80 customers this time, instead of the usual 100 (which normally means 50 per team). While getting ready to serve, Andrew and Ralph seem ready, but Jessica, who hasn't had serving experience before, is asking another waiter for advice on what she need to do. One question that she asks is if she has to carry the food on a big tray. Um, yeah.

Service #1

The clock hits 6PM (1 hour earlier than the normal start time), and the restaurant is open. The customers file into the dining room, and the blue team gets to taking the orders. Ralph chats with the people at one table, and during that time, he calls the maitre d' "lousy". He'd better hope that JP didn't hear that, whether he was joking or not. In the kitchen, Jimmy brings up some starters to the hot plate, and while a couple of them were approved, Ramsay tells him to get the bowl on another clean. After Jimmy tries again, Ramsay once again points out a dirty bowl, which Jimmy has to wipe clean.

1 hour in, and the starters are finally making their way out into the dining room, as the blue team serves them to the customers. Now, it's Chris and Elsie's turn to get some main courses done. And it's taking some time for them to get them going, especially the lasagna. Ramsay is telling them to get moving with it. Ralph then mentions to Ramsay about a certain table waiting, and he then repeats the order to the red team. Ramsay then yells at Chris about how he says "Oui, chef" when Ramsay expects "Yes, chef", and how Chris hasn't been doing as well or moving as quickly as Ramsay would expect from an executive chef on this night.

30 minutes left, and Chris and Elsie are slowly getting the main courses out. But Michael, instead of helping them, has decided to focus on the desserts. He gets some done as Ramsay calls for them, and they are immediately approved. But with 10 minutes left, the team is not doing as well overall as they did before, leaving plenty of customers without food. In the dining room, Jessica, for some reason, has decided to hand out random entrees to certain tables. She just wanted to make the customers happy, and it seems to work out. But when time runs out, Ramsay is not happy, as the main courses weren't getting out there faster than he expected. On the other hand, the blue team's serving seemed to have its good points, and its bad points.

With the first dinner service over, it is time for the teams to switch spots, and they get 1 hour to prepare for the second dinner service. And Michael happens to know that the kitchen is running low on lasagna, giving him an idea on how the red team could sabotage the blue team's efforts, to make up for the red team's performance in the first service. As he fills the rest of his team in on the plan, the blue team begins squabbling over what garlic to use for a certain type of dish. After a bit, it seems like the squabbling is over, but Ralph says a few more things to Andrew, and it starts again. Add the arguing to Michael's planned sabotage, and you have a recipe for a major disaster.

Service #2 (a.k.a. The Lasagna Conspiracy)

The clock strikes 9PM, and the dining room is packed with new customers. And the red team gets their plan going. What is it? Well, since the kitchen is low on lasagna, they simply plan to recommend that main course to all their customers, in the hopes of loading the blue kitchen with lasagna orders. And as it turns out, their customers do end up ordering it! With their part of the plan going well, they get the orders in to Ramsay, and he reads them out to the blue team. And all they hear is lasagna, lasagna, lasagna. Jessica does notice this, and naturally assumes sabotage on the part of the red team.

Ramsay calls for a few appetizers, which Ralph brings to the hot plate. Ramsay then yells at Ralph about how he's splashing the soup as he brought them to the hot plate. But he does eventually get the starters out, which the red team serves to the customers. 40 minutes in, and Jimmy has gone up to the second floor to take an order from a table, just as Ramsay begins to wonder where he is. A customer notices that Jimmy is sweating, and he tries to wipe his brow and talking with them as Ramsay is now calling for him. Jimmy does remain polite, though, and he eventually does head back down to the go to the hot plate, but he has to pick up some orders that he dropped on the way down the stairs, slowing him down some more.

Once at the hot plate, Jimmy is given a plate with 2 dishes to serve to table 24, and he heads over to serve. When he gets to the table, JP tells him which table is 24, and mentions that the other is 23. After a bit of talking, Jimmy is once again called back by Ramsay, who also tells JP to just get them served. However, when they try to serve it, a customer says that one tortellini is missing. JP and Jimmy both head back to the hot plate to mention this, and Jimmy says that he ended up delivering a tortellini to the wrong table. Ramsay yells at Ralph to get 4 tortellini done, and yells some more at Jimmy about the missing tortellini. Afterwards, it's JP's turn to scold Jimmy, this time about "touching himself". No, not THAT. Scratching his head and wiping his face. Duh.

With 20 minutes left, Michael's idea to recommend the lasagna to the customers is doing a number on the blue kitchen, and they are really behind with their main courses. They're trying and trying, but Ramsay is getting ticked at the slow pace. After Elsie asks for a time for table 10's lasagna and doesn't get an accurate answer, Ramsay calls for short ribs, which Andrew is responsible for. He doesn't respond at first, but after a few seconds, he says they're there. Ramsay then asks for Jessica to make sure the dishes for a table is ready and together, but Andrew asks if she's bringing the lasagna. Ramsay yells at Andrew about the interruption, and he asks both of them to try to work together. He asks Andrew to fix a dish, then tells Jessica to help.

10 minutes remain in the service, and with very few main courses out, the customers are once again losing patience. In fact, one customer gets up and walks to the hot plate to talk to Ramsay about what's taking so long. As Chris is waiting at the hot plate and overhearing the conversation, Ramsay tries to explain to the customer why it's taking so long, saying he has no control over it. He then caps off the conversation by telling the customer to lose some weight. Ouch. Afterwards, Chris told the guy that he got off easy. That would be an understatement.

Ramsay once again scolds Andrew about a dish looking like a "dog's dinner", and asks for a table to be redone. He then directs Andrew and Jessica's attention to the fact that there are 17 tickets left. 17 tickets in less than 10 minutes? I think it's safe to say that they won't all get served. And that is indeed the case, as they reach the end of the service, and Ramsay asks for the place to be shut down for the day.

A big step backwards

The teams line up for the results of both services, with both the cooking and serving performances counting towards who loses. Ramsay mentions that the red team had served more food, but the food that the blue team did serve was rated higher. In addition, when it came to the dining room, the blue team did much better. So with that, Ramsay declares that the losing team this time is... the red team. That means that (a) Michael's plan wasn't enough, and (b) he is on the losing team for a dinner service for the first time. But Michael still won't be in danger of going home, because as a result of his own outstanding performance, he is chosen by Ramsay to nominate 2 teammates for elimination.

Back in the dorms, Jimmy knows that he is in trouble of being sent home, and he basically tells Michael that he's fine if he is chosen and goes home. Elsie is also worried, though, but she gets some comfort and hugs from 2 members of the blue team, Jessica and Andrew. Meanwhile, Michael is talking to Chris about the nominations, and Chris says that he'd put up Jimmy and Elsie if he had to nominate, based on how they did. But in an aside, Michael says that it's not a hard decision for him, and he basically just wants to win.

Strategy enters the kitchen

With the blue team sitting nearby, the red team line up for the nominations. After confirming that Michael has made his decision, Ramsay asks for the first nomination. Michael chooses Elsie, because she was being flustered in the kitchen. Ramsay asks for the second nomination, and Michael chooses J- Wait. He chose Chris? Yep, he chose Chris, because he felt that Jimmy was trying to work hard, and because Chris seemed so confident in being the strongest link, that if he really is, then he'll survive this. Sounds more like a strategy ploy to me, keeping the weakest teammate in to give himself a better chance as the numbers continue to dwindle.

After pointing out that Jimmy has once again dodged a bullet, Ramsay asks Elsie and Chris to step forward and plead their cases. Elsie says that she has learned a lot during her time in Hell's Kitchen, and she will continue to work as hard as she can. Chris says that his hard work and devotion to his team will eventually pay off. After some careful thinking, Ramsay decides that Chris is leaving Hell's Kitchen this time. He hands over his jacket and walks to the back, heading out. And with that, a possible threat to win it has been eliminated, and Michael, with a smile on his face, knows it. In the end, Ramsay reiterates to the remaining 6 contestants to be ready for "anything and everything."

[By the way, about the warning I mentioned at the beginning... I didn't think the language was as unusually strong as it has been in the first 4 episodes. Maybe Fox decided to just start adding it this week or something.]

Hell's Kitchen will be taking a break next week, but in 2 weeks, they'll make up for it with a 2-hour episode. At that time, we'll see reactions to the shocking elimination, Ramsay will up the ante, telling the remaining 6 that the menu will be "theirs", the dinner service will see plenty of yelling as usual, and they say the next elimination will be more intense. See ya then!

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