Review: ‘Hell’s Kitchen vs. Top Chef’

On "Hell's Kitchen," a New York strip steak leads the ladies' team to victory, while on "Top Chef," prepping Latin meals makes losers out of chef-testants.

HELL’S KITCHEN SUMMARY: The Men defeated the Women in creating dishes from leftovers, none of which looked particularly appetizing. The two teams devised their own menus and the women add, at the last minute, a New York steak that ultimately carries them to victory.

Not caring that Bonnie is a mess in the kitchen, Gordon Ramsay tosses Brad.

TOP CHEF SUMMARY: The quickfire challenge was to use a frozen pie crust to make an “ambitious and creative” dish. Top three were Tre’s fennel and apple tart tatin, Sara M.’s exotic rabbit dishes and Joey’s winning tart trio The elimination challenge was to prepare a Latin dish for the cast and crew of a telenovela. Howie’s braised pork shoulder with yucca and Joey’s bean stew with lobster, shrimp, chicken and chorizo are the top two with Howie emerging victorious. Last week’s winner, Lia, is sent home after her smoked rainbow trout on a polenta cake is universally disliked.

GALLO: “Hell’s Kitchen” is down to five and “Top Chef” is at 10. To some degree, I am astonished that I have no opinions about any of these people. One would think that personalities would rise in “HK,” but beyond Rock, they’re all sort of bland.

LYFORD: I find Julia, Rock and Bonnie entertaining.

The other “Hell’s” folks are so forgettable I can’t ever recall their names. The “Top Chef” contestants are in a whole different league talent-wise than the “Hell’s” group. The other major difference is that friendships are being formed on “Chef” — Lia and Casey; Howie and Joey. Is this wise in a competition format?

GALLO: Forming the friendship is wise if you are thinking down the road. I couldn’t help but play development exec while watching this week’s “Top Chef”: The “Howie and Joey Show.” Two seemingly rough around the edges, rolly-polly guys in a cooking and lifestyle show together. It would beat everything on the Food Network – provided Joey never again says the words “it’s like an orgasm in your mouth.”

LYFORD: The Latin challenge was intro’d by Padma with the following disclaimer: “The telenovela is on a tight schedule that is constantly being adjusted.” If the chef-testants had been paying attention, shouldn’t they have anticipated that their three-hour cooking time would be cut in half? And who did the time constraint hurt the most?

GALLO: If we’re being generous, it probably hurt Hung, who probably would have gone a little slower and thought things out a little better. And any of the contestants who needed their flavors to marry better, such as Casey’s dish sauce. Every smart future contestant wwill know to not count on having enough time for things to bake or cool and then set.

GALLO: On another topic, coming attractions on “HK” always seem to go deeper than “Top Chef,” but part of that owes to all the products and websites that Bravo flogs in the final minutes of the show. This week, though, “Hell” may have gone too far showing Rock weeping and explaining how he let down his family. I seriously hope he isn’t packing his bags as he is by far the only one in the kitchen who can cook and lead.

I’d trust Julia with some basics, Jen with a dessert and Josh could probably place a bet, but I’m surprised Bonnie doesn’t get lost going from the kitchen to the dorm.

LYFORD: Both shows spend too much time on the recaps and previews and not enough on the cooking and tasting. As far as the chefs on “Hell’s” I’d say watch out for Julia. She’s been carrying her team for weeks.

On the other hand the tables have really turned over at “Top Chef.” A few weeks ago I’d have written off both Joey and Howie and here they are at the top of the class. Hung and Tre came in looking like they had it in the bag and now Tre lands in the middle in the elimination challenge and Hung is a bottom dweller. Hung cannot take any kind of criticism. Is he less talented than the others or is he simply shooting himself in the foot?

GALLO: I thought Hung was a goner this week. His attitude is horrid; he makes Marcel look humble.

(Well, not really). And we’re starting to see how the contestants who hang in the middle of the pack ultimately move to the bottom. It was Camille last week and Casey this week.

LYFORD: There is a lot less to criticize on “Chef”

than on “Hell’s.” While it’s obvious that the Bravo producers are seeking talent what are they looking for over at Fox? We’ve already agreed that their personalities are bland and they aren’t all that talented in the kitchen.

GALLO: Fox wants cooks who react but don’t necessarily defend themselves when Ramsay shouts “Come here you” and calls them “donkeys” over and over. What’s the worst thing Tom Colicchio would ever say? And would Padma repeat it?

LYFORD: “This is terrible” is the most insulting thing I’ve heard from Tom so far and, yes, Padma repeated it word for word… with the same inflection.

GALLO: Well, this week “Top Chef” came up with a way to make Padma seem capable of forming a sentence: Bring in a guest judge who speaks English as a fourth language.

Hell's Kitchen vs. Top Chef

"HK": Fox, Mon., July 16 "TC": Bravo, Wed., July 18


"HK": Running time: 1 HOUR "TC": Running time: 1 HOUR


"HK" Host: Gordon Ramsay "TC" Judges: Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons, Padma Lakshmi

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