In the first season, we have Elsie who was famous for being "a mother of six". Well, when she was one of the last four contestants had been chewed out by her fellow competitors (Although it was slightly her fault cause as she was on TV she stated how she won the challenge for that day) and is off to be eliminated. Ramsay knew something was up and had questioned her if she was fine. Elsie could've taken the chance to chew out her fellow competitors...she took the blow herself. Sure she was eliminated, but she showed much grace and maturity during that moment and kept her head up high the whole time.
In an early episode of season 2, Heather, who would eventually go on to win the entire season, she burned her hand (but recovered), and was forced to sit out the rest of the service...but that didn't stop her from directing her team to victory as she waited for the ambulance to arrive.
Julia from Season 3 was one of the biggest underdogs in the entire series. A simple Waffle House chef from Atlanta who pretty much didn't fit with everyone's fancy backgrounds, she was able to keep her calm in the kitchen and lead both her team (and once the Blue Team) out. Ramsay was so impressed that he would personally send her to Culinary School so that she could eventually come back to win the competition hands down.
In Season 3 Ep 6, Julia, Jen and Bonnie floored the Blue team in the service. This was specifically poignant because in the first episode, Ramsay had dubbed the team "Hell's Bitches" due to their fighting and due to three of their former members (Tiffany, Joanna and Melissa who was on the Blue Team) bickering and being complete jerks. The three girls are, in order: a nanny (Bonnie), a short order cook (Julia) and a pastry chef (Jen). Their opponents were two sous chefs (Josh and Brad), an Executive Chef (Rock) and a Line Chef (Melissa).
Season 4, Episode 5. Christina was nominated again for elimination, purely because her team thought she was arrogant. When Chef Ramsay found out she had been nominated, he was alarmed and confused and called the team out on it. He asked Jen if she felt threatened by her, which Jen denied, claiming she was the one who decided her own fate in the competition. Ramsay quickly pointed out that HE decided her fate, not her. He then asked Rosann if she thought she was a better cook than Christina. Rosann said she was, then Ramsay promptly pointed out that she screwed her team that night. This is especially awesome in retrospect when you know that Rosann was eliminated for being such a weak cook, and Christina actually ended up winning the competition.
In Season 4 we had Jen, THE prototypical Reality Show cutthroat bitch. Near the end of the season, she remarks that the previous service practically gave her a heart attack. We immediately cut to a Confession Cam with Petrozza, the man Gordon praised for being selfless and polite:
Petrozza: You cold bitch, you finally feel like you have a heart? Why, because you know there's a good chance that your ass is going on the chopping block, that's why you feel like you have a heart? Or are you just full of shit?
Immediately following that, the team draws names to vote who to nominate, work out Jen rigged the voting then discuss who is the best of them to nominate with her, forcing Ramsay to eliminate her rather than who the team put up.
Season 5. Robert was in such a rush to cook appetizers that his pants tore and his boxers showed. He ignored and continued to cook boasting "I'll cook in my boxer shorts. I don't give a fuck." Doubles as a Crowning Moment of Funny,
Paula's nomination in Season 5, Episode 11, even though she had a flawless performance that night (and most of the past ones for that matter). Andrea had by far the worst performance that night, but won an immunity card from the recent challenge, leaving options very limited. When Andrea told Chef Ramsay Paula, he was taken aback (while Paula actually chuckled) and asked why. She justified it with "lack of communication," which was blatantly false. He noted to himself that this should be quick. He asked Paula why she should stay. She started explaining how she felt like she had been a solid performer throughout the competition. Chef Ramsay cuts her off in the middle of her first sentence and tells her to get back in line. He wasn't kidding about it being quick.
In Season 6, Joseph was asked to give his nominations for elimination from the blue team and gave a simple reply of "They know who they are, and can step forward themselves." After Ramsay attempted several times to get Joseph to give him a straight answer, he finally tore into him until Joseph ripped off his jacket and stormed up to Ramsay challenging him to a fight in the parking lot after filming. Ramsay, who happens to be a martial arts black belt and in exceptionally fit condition, calmly stands inches away from him and basically challenges him to do it right there. When Joseph doesn't go through with it, Ramsay promptly ejects him....and spouts a one-liner as he trips over the bar ledge on his way out.
Who were the two final contestants in Season 6? Dave and Kevin, both of whom were injured (fractured wrist and two sprained ankles, respectively). Dave won.
Dave also had a Crowning Moment an episode before. Each contestant had to cook a dish of a certain style (Mexican, Indian, and one other) for master chefs of that style. He got Indian, which he had admittedly never cooked beforenote His protein was pork, which is basically a no-no in many areas of India.. He won the challenge.
Dave in general had several moments throughout the season. One of the best examples was in the episode where Andy injured himself; while Andy complained that his injury hampered his performance, Ramsay pointed out that Dave covered multiple stations by himself, with no decrease in the quality of his output at all.
Kevin also deserves some mention. In the season finale, he demonstrated great leadership skills when he managed to fix Amanda's constant screw-ups. Had it not been for her, he may have won instead of Dave.
Van with his signature dish. He boasted that despite people underestimating him for being a country boy from Texas, he had a sophisticated palette. He proved himself right by making a seared foie gras, which Ramsay was very impressed with.
Made even a bit cooler when you do a little research on his background. He's the son of former WWE wrestler Gertrude "Luna" Vachon, and in her family, looks are definitely deceiving.
Another from season 6, when there are only six contestants remaining, the dinner service started off so badly that, for the first time ever, Gordon and sous chef Scott walked out of the kitchen. Immediately, Tennille and Kevin took charge of the kitchen themselves, managing to rally up despite the mistakes of others and Suzanne's unwillingness to send food out. Cue Ramsay returning and kicking out those who were doing badly, and Tennille, Kevin and Dave finished the service themselves with no more mishaps. Dave was working three stations on his own at one point. With a fractured wrist.
Another example was during a challenge when the teams would roll a die with letters on them. They'd name an ingredient that started with the letter they rolled and make a dish using all the ingredients. For the blue team, the first one they rolled was haddock. Dave rolled an 'F' and chose "figs." The men basically gave up and chose random ingredients after that. So they had to make a dish out of haddock, figs, tomatoes, angel hair pasta, and apples. Against the red team's rabbit, haricotvert, potatoes, hamhock and garlic. Amazingly enough, the blue team cooked a decent dish. The figs sweetened the acidity of the tomato sauce they made. That combined with Ariel's overly powerful garlic sauce nailed them the victory.
In an early episode of season 7, the entire red team was pulled from service. Gordon and sous chefs Scott and Andi cooked everything by themselves and finished the service.
Happens again in season 9. Gordon threw out the entire red team except for Jennifer in the middle of service. Jennifer (along with Andi and Gordon), went on to finish the service spotlessly.
Rarely happens, but moments that show a customer going up to Ramsay and complaining while he's trying to work the kitchens and/or being a real douche about their complaints or being really rude to Ramsay, Ramsay will tell them off.
Case in point, when one lady decides she had waited for her food long enough and confronts Ramsay about it, he didn't even bother looking at her when he waved her off and said "Take the giraffe back to the table, yes?"
Another one from Season 2, when a customer comes up to Ramsay and whines about his risotto not having enough pumpkin in it (said customer had already eaten most of the risotto before complaining):
Ramsay: Right. Well, I'll get more pumpkin and I'll ram it right up your fucking arse. Would you like it whole or diced?
JP's crowning moment of awesome (Season Six, Episode Two): "Ladies first". After he dished out the "Listen to ME!" against Van (a guy who has quite a bit more muscle than JP).
Had another one previously in Season Five when he sarcastically mimicked Lacey's excuse of never being a waiter before (she had forgotten to hand in a ticket for a table).
In the first episode of season 8 to feature the final six, black-jacketed contestants, they had to create a dish and have it judged by a panel of five three-Michelin-star chefs. The judges each held up a numbered card (like at the Olympics) for presentation and then again for taste; the best score any judge could award for either category was 10. It looked like Gail, with a score of 87, would win the challenge, until Russell presented his dish...and received perfect scores in both categories.
The Season 8 blue team completely fell apart in one servicenote Actually, they completely fell apart in every service that season, but that's beside the point, and Ramsay started kicking them out of the kitchen one by one. Eventually the only chef left was Trev who, despite coming within an inch of being thrown out despite being in the winning team during the previous episode, finished the blue team's service by himself. Even though Trev has largely been The Scrappy of Season 8 (with the obvious exception of Raj and Sabrina), it was hard to deny he had kicked ass just this one time.
Jennifer from Season 9 losing her shit with Elise, who has been blaming her own problems during service on the rest of the team for 8 weeks now. Watching nice, even-tempered Jennifer finally ream out the Queen Bitch (and actually getting her to shut up!) was pretty cathartic. The following is from the 10th episode.
Jennifer:Shut up for five fucking seconds! That's the problem: You don't shut up!
Cut to Gordon looking slightly shocked.
Probably a small one, but early in Season 9, Sous Chef Andi had enough of Elise's bickering and lack of respect once during prep, and told her she needed "to show some fucking respect." This is the first time Andi finally had to tell off a contestant.
It happened again in Season 10, when Tiffany had screwed the red team over by undercooking one of their key dishes (the service that night was the "teams make their own menu"). Andi told off Tiffany and repeatedly told her that "You don't care." Tiffany responded to this by mouthing off at Andi, presumably thinking there would be no repercussions since she wasn't Ramsay — only for Andi to tell Tiffany to "take a walk" and get out of the kitchen. This is the first time a Sous chef has sent a contestant out of the kitchen; not even Scott has done that in the ten seasons he's been on the show.
Also in the Season 10 finale when Dana screwed on the fish and tried to re-heat them and serve them up, Christina called her on it and Dana kept insisting nothing was wrong with her dish, and Andi told her to not to "fucking thwart" Christina and do what she says.
In Season 9, Tommy got kicked out of the kitchen along with Jennifer (who was assisting him on appetizers) and Elise (who consistently messed up on fish). After calling back the team to chew them out and send them to the dorms, Tommy stayed behind to ask Ramsay why he got sent out, since Jennifer was the one making almost all the mistakes on the station, such as miscommunicating and taking his dishes up before they were ready. Chef Ramsay took it about as wellas he takes any chef disputing his decisions, and ended up informing Tommy that he would "stick his head in the oven and talk to him through the gas burner!" Tommy's response? "Do it!"
YMMV on this one as Tommy made several mistakes himself that night and his response to Ramsay was arguably more "immature" then awesome.
During the finale of Season 9, Paul, despite losing the final tasting challenge to Will and being saddled with Carrie and Elise on his team, manages to pull out a win. He does so by being the sole chef the entire season to get Carrie and Elise working together.
On that note, Elise deserves some mention. She may be the mother of all Scrappies, but she kicked ass during the finale. She was hands down the best cook on Paul's side, single-handedly leading him to victory. And she was amazingly cooperative and hard working for someone else for a change.
Robyn of season 10 had a minor one in the first episode - cooking her signature dish perfectly and then, while the other women were drunk and making crude sexual jokes ("How do you know when a scallop's cooked perfectly? When you touch it and it feels like a cock!") she got up and studied in the living room, and was one of the only well-prepared women on the team.
Roshni and Brian of season 10 finishing a dinner service by themselves (on the Blue side) after Ramsay threw everyone else out and warned them that they'd better not make any other mistakes... or else!
What really makes this a CMOA is that both of them came within an inch of their lives after the previous service, where they were the first of their respective teams (Roshni was still on the red team at that point) to be thrown out of the kitchen, so they both redeemed themselves in a HUGE way (though ironically, Ramsay barely seemed to notice).
After the fashion show service in season 10, Clemenza was easily nominated after being overwhelmed on his fish station, along with Guy for essentially giving up. Ramsay asked the other chefs on the team who deserved to go home, and all five said Clemenza. But Clemenza REFUSED to go out that easy: he kept insisting that he could cook, and that his heart was in the competition and he refused to give up, clearly earning the respect of the winning red team. He even managed to win Ramsay over, who eliminated Guy. This led to a good chunk of the red team giving Clemenza a standing ovation.
Clemenza: "I got more love tonight from the Red Team! Go figure!"
Christina in season 10 got one during a challenge, both teams had to cook dishes for three executive chefs who rated each dish 1-3 stars, Christina was the last one up and she needed at least 7 points for the red team to win, amazingly her dish got a 3 star rating from one of the chefs(the only dish to do so) and put her team over the top for the win.
Season 10, episode 12: After going virtually unnoticed for most of the season, Justin managed to become the first person in the history of the show to get a perfect score on the blind taste test challenge. Especially impressive since he had not ten minutes earlier been involved in a wing-eating contest against competitive eating champ Joey Chestnut (Chestnut won, obviously).
In episode 15 of season 10, during dinner service, the red team cruises into a very easy win with a smooth and almost flawless dinner service, but the moment of awesome goes to Barbie. For starters, she is the only chef in both kitchens who doesn't commit a single mistake throughout the dinner service. But the blue team's constant mistakes and horrible communication were sinking them fast, especially Brian's terrible performance on the meat station. What does Ramsay do? He calls over Barbie and asks her to take over the blue team's meat station, where she churns out perfectly cooked meat after perfectly cooked meat. Not only was she the best performer in her team that night, she single-handedly pulled the blue team out of the disaster zone and drove them into properly finishing dinner service.
It seems to be fitting that Barbie had this moment. Most of the season, it seemed as though her teammates wanted to see her gone even though she not nearly the worst one on the team.
In the finale of Season 10, Christina had both Robyn and Kimmie on her team, who had both caused many problems throughout the season and proved difficult to work with, and under her leadership, Robyn made very few and Kimmie didn't make ANY mistakes for the entire service, and she managed to pull out a win.
Season 11, episode 13: after Nedra's disastrous first performance on the blue team, which the men easily decided to nominate her for, she screamed at them as to why she didn't deserve to be nominated. Zach (who himself was taking several levels in jerkass as of late), wouldn't bend to her whining, and said in the confessional "We ain't the red team. We ain't scared of your attitude!" and whenever Nedra would scream "I AIN'T GOIN' UP!!" Zach would calmly state "yeah ya are" without an ounce of fear. It was very relaxing to see someone stand up to Nedra for once and she ultimately went home that night.
Episode 16 of season 11 had The Passing Zone, dressed as chefs. They juggled knives and flaming batons, before passing them to each other by Ramsay. As Zach pointed out, one false move and it would be the end.
Season 10 Episode 16. The five black jacket finalists go up against a team of returning contestant chefs, which isn't anything new, but this time they aren't merely returning chefs from previous seasons, they're winning chefs from previous seasons. Ramsay decides to determine the winner by score cards, the veterans had 95% customer satisfaction, the chefs had 93%. All in all it is easily the best dinner service of the season with only a handful of comparatively minor errors, and for them to do so well against the veterans was impressive to all including Ramsay.
At the final service of Season 11, Mary does the one thing that should've been done in previous seasons: kick out the chef that's doing horribly (ie Dan).