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4) What Kind Of Challenge Is That?

Speaking of challenges, many of the tasks (some of them timed) on Hell’s Kitchen are not realistic. Not very often do you hear your boss say, “You need to shuck 100 abalone shells but you only have ten minutes” or “I need you to dress out that octopus with a soup spoon–remove the tentacles and everything.” Of course, it’s important to work fast in the kitchen, yet the producers should try to be more pragmatic about the approach since the winning contestant is bestowed with their very own restaurant. I give kudos to Top Chef for at least making the challenges truer to life, while still rendering the tasks relevant.

5) Why Are You Yelling?

Restaurant kitchens are volatile places. It’s not an environment for timid, polite people. Hot pans. Sharp knives. Twelve-hour shifts. Plus, there’s lots of swearing and sexual innuendo in the kitchen. But it must be noted that Gordon Ramsay’s tirades on Hell’s Kitchen are embellished for dramatic effect. Many chefs really do sound like sailors out on liberty. Most people, let’s say, well-groomed bankers and real estate agents, couldn’t handle the temperament of a restaurant kitchen. They would say, “How dare you talk to me that way!” To which you would reply, “Shut the fuck up and peel those parsnips, you fuck!” I would take a surly chef-type over a construction worker in a fistfight any day of the week. Hell hath no fury like a scorned, pissed-off cook. This isn’t always the case for fledgling chefs, with prim and proper culinary training. But most of that learned professionalism goes out the window once recent culinary graduates become line cooks and sous chefs, which is where most of them end up at first.

6) It’s Not Going To Be Easy

It’s hard to imagine many of these contestants, especially in the beginning episodes, running their own restaurants. There’s a reason why most restaurants fail within the first year: not only is it extremely hard, demanding work, most owners don’t see any profit for a few years. It also takes a competent person with some working capital to successfully run a restaurant, not “cafeteria chefs” who don’t even know the major mother sauces and jump up and down just because they made it through a dinner rush without fucking up. I doubt very much that many of these stumblebum winners, at least in Hell’s Kitchen, could make a restaurant succeed without major consulting from Ramsay and his kitchen minion.

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