Ariel a 26-year-old no nonsense chef from New Jersey and Kristin heated up Hell’s Kitchen in one of the most epic finales yet. The fight to win Hell’s Kitchen and become a new head chef at BLT Steak was aired at 9 p.m. Eastern on Friday, April 29, 2016 on FOX.
Ariel, an in-your-face solid Chef who accepts no excuses for mediocrity, had a tough childhood. “I was never black enough for the black kids. Never Jewish enough for the Jewish kids. Never white enough for the white kids. The kitchen was the first place I felt I really fit in,” she said on the show. She broke her foot on the show, but stayed and kept on kicking.
Kristin, from Chicago, on the other hand, had a slow start on the show, but she proved herself to have an excellent command of flavors in the kitchen. In her youth, she was the bad girl. Her interest in cooking began while under house arrest.
“I’m one of the best chefs here, and I know this,” she said in a previous episode.
Both women were invited to stay in the Presidential Suite of the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles. The next morning, they were to meet with the Executive Chef of BLT Miami, and Season 9 Hell’s Kitchen winner, Paul Neidermann to ask him questions and get his advice.
— Hell’s Kitchen (@HellsKitchenFOX) April 30, 2016
When they arrived at the Biltmore, glammed up in party dresses, they found a jazz pianist, a butler with Champagne and their family members yelling “Surprise”. They hugged, and mingled until they were called to work on their menus. After working late into the night, devising the perfect meals to show of their talents, they prepared to meet with Niedermann in the morning for his advice. He advised Kristin to pick her kitchen team carefully. He told her to be the duck on the pond, a calm exterior, yet paddling furiously beneath.
— Hell’s Kitchen (@HellsKitchenFOX) April 30, 2016
He told Ariel not to give her staff tasks that only she can do, a not to belittle them or demean them. They then had makeovers and were ushered to the roof for drinks. Chef Gordon Ramsay was waiting for them with a helicopter, waiting to accompany them on a tour of Los Angeles. The women thought they were only getting a tour, but the helicopter set them down on board the USS Iowa, among what looked like hundreds of screaming fans. It was time for them to start cooking.
The were each given an hour to make five dishes with the help of Sous Chefs, Christina and Aaron. The rules dictated that they created one hot appetizer, one cold appetizer, and entrees features fish, chicken and beef.
“I think I’m a stronger chef than Kristin,” Ariel said.
Ariel said that her menu was tangy, spicy, and colorful.
“It’s extremely chaotic. I am a little frantic, but I have the edge on Ariel,” Kristin said. “Because I trust my flavors and I trust my palate.”
Kristin said that she likes to take classic flavors and elevate them. “You can’t $%! with a perfectly cooked ribeye,” she said.
For her cold dish, Kristin prepared Wagyu beef tartare, brioche, soft-poached quail egg with baby arugula salad on the side. She received a nine for her score. The cold dishes were judged by Clifford Crooks, Executive Chef at ESquared Hospitality.
“The egg is perfectly, perfectly cooked. Can’t complain at all,” Chef Clifford Crooks said.
Ariel had a cold citrus lobster salad and around the plate there was purple romanesco and crosnes dressed in a blood-orange vinaigrette.
Chef Crooks said he dish was quite striking and gave her an eight.
Next were the hot appetizers, judged by Executive Chef of the Florentine in Chicago, Chris Macchia.
Arial had savory mushroom cheesecake. “It’s seasoned really well,” Chef Macchia said. “The portion size is a little bigger than I would have thought, but very well executed.” She earned a nine.
Kristin served the judge ricotta and chive ravioli for this round. “It’s a little bit salty,” the Chef said. “I thought the execution and everything else worked really well together.” She scored an eight.
Fish was the entree in the next round. Esquared Executive Chef Manuel Trevino was the guest judge.
Kristin had sea bass with pork belly and brown butter sauce.
“I think the pork belly is a little bit undercooked, but it’s still very flavorful,” Chef Trevina said. He gave her an eight.
Ariel presented mustard dill salmon and asparagus. “It’s very good. The sauce is great,” Chef Trevino remarked. She scored a nine.”The salmon was a bit better put together. I’ll give that a nine.”
Up next was the Executive Chef of BLT Bar and Grill in New York, David Craine to judge the chicken dishes.
Kristin had prepared chicken breast with carrots and cheddar grits. “I think that skin’s just not as crisp as you would like it to be,” Chef Craine criticized.
Herb garden chicken with carrot puree was what Ariel cooked up. Her score was a nine.
“Fabulous idea, and I love that, but this one doesn’t quite have the juiciness of the other one,” Chef Craine said of Ariel’s chicken. She scored an eight.
For the beef category, the judge was in charge of ESquare Hospitality, which owns BLT, Keith Treyball. The women were tied and he was the tie breaker.
Kristin served him a grilled rib eye,
gorgonzola potato puree, broccoli rabe, and roasted mushrooms.
“Totally delivers. The sauce, really compliments the beef. Very nice. Thank you,” Her score, an eight.
A Medium-rare hanger steak. Poached fingerling potatoes and thumbelina carrots was Ariel’s dish.
“The steak’s delicious. I have one comment here. There’s a little too much sweetness in the sauce, but conceptually and visually fantastic,” was her critique. She scored a 7.5.
Kristin won that half of the competition. She scored 42 and Ariel scored 41.5.
Since Kristin was the winner, she was able to have the first pick of Chefs to help her in the second part of the competition.
The Hell’s Kitchen Season 15 Chefs who returned to help Ariel and Kristin in the kitchen were:
Kristin‘s Team: Ashley, Frank, Joe, Chad
Ariel’s Team: Jackie, Manda, Dannie, Jared
Ariel and Kristin reviewed their menus for the final challenge.
Ariel was doing a classic house salad, candied walnuts, chives, fines herbes, cold lobster, savory mushroom cheesecake, pan roasted halibout
Ariel goes through her menu faster than Chef Ramsay calls out the tickets,” Dannie said.
Kristin’s team had duck salad and crab salad to prepare.
“I’m extremely confident on my meat station, and Kristin picked me, because that’s where I have flourished since I’ve been here,” Frank said.
“Oh Kristin. There’s something wrong,” Chef Ramsay warned. Frank sent his duck salad out for Kristin’s parents, but Chef Ramsay said it was still cold in the middle. He had to refire it.
In the Blue Kitchen, Ariel had her own set of problems.
“I want to provide great service to Ariel. I mean, she’s up there for the win. But at the same time, It’s like, I don’t want to be here,” Dannie admitted.
The pork chops were raw, and Ariel shouted that she needed the pork chops back in the oven. “Make sure they’re cooked first,” she commanded.
“These were some really big pork chops, and of course I made a mistake. Hey, I’m human,” Dannie said with a bit of a chuckle.
Ariel was able to maneuver for more time for Dannie on her refire.
And on the Kristin’s Team, Joe did not season the garnish for the sea bass “…Easiest section tonight and you are still bleeping screwing up,” Chef Ramsay shouted.
Then there was Jackie who was cutting the sea basses, so they would look the same. Ariel told her that it’s not the way they look that matters, it’s the weight that’s important.
“People are paying for entrees,” Ariel told her. “They need to get what they are paying for, Jackie.”
The entrees went out to Ariel’s family. Ariel is the Blue team.
In the red kitchen, Kristin needed two salmon and two sea bass, but her team was dragging their feet. Chef Ramsay told Kristin that she better get tough and she better get tough quick. “You are dictating to them the pace of your kitchen. Do something to get your team moving.”
“I worked too hard to get to this point, and I’m not going down without a fight,” she said in her interview.
So, Kristin pushed harder, and her brigade delivered.
Again, Ariel’s pork left the kitchen too soon.
“… I mean, last time I heard, pork was supposed to be really done,” the diner who received the undercooked pork said.
Dannie, was the culprit. And there was another pork chop that one dry.
Chef Ramsay pointed out the dry pork. “Dannie, what do you think of that?”
“That one is dry. I have two more standing by,” she said.
“Dannie’s going to flip out. Dannie’s going to flip out,” Jackie observed.
“[Bleep] it! I didn’t ask to come back,” Dannie said.
“Come on Dannie. I know you’re strong. Get me those pork chops as soon as you can, Dannie!” Ariel encouraged.
A few moments later…
“Where is Dannie?” Ariel questioned.
Dannie had walked out.
Jackie picked up where Dannie left off.
Then, on Kristin’s team, Chad had salmon that was raw, and Ashley came to his rescue.
“Both teams had bumps, but you hung in there,” Chef Ramsay said.
The women were then asked to go back to their dorms and wait until Chef Ramsay called them with his decision. “It was a good fight. It was a good competition. Whatever happens, I was happy and proud of what I did, and I left it all on the field. I did better than I ever imagined. Definitely the greatest service of my life,” Ariel said.
“Yeah, mine too,” Kristin agreed. “My heart hasn’t stopped racing. Like, I’m proud of myself, but I just want to know whatever the outcome is going to be, I don’t even know right now. I’m just like, phew!”
Chef Ramsay called the chefs and the winner walked through an open door that led to the stage. Ariel was the winning chef for Hell’s Kitchen. She will be a Head Chef at BLT in Las Vegas and have a salary of $250,000.
“This opportunity is just going to a open door for me to have a happy life,” Ariel said.
“Ariel was always outspoken, but she backed her confidence up with good cooking,” Chef Ramsay said.
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