Hell's Kitchen has a lot of small-to-medium screw ups each episode, but some moments of idiocy stand out:
- In the opening signature dish challenge, putting anything frozen, canned, or prepackaged in your dish is a surefire way to identify yourself as an asshole to Gordon Ramsay and the other chefs right away. (Rock from Season 3 is the only chef to fully recover from this bad move, going on to win his season. Season 16's Kimberly is thus far only the second chef who committed this WAI sin after Rock to reach the second half of the show and the black jacket stage). One chef actually allowed a toothpick to wind up in her food.
- Also, in the signature dish challenge and other challenges, make sure what's on the plate doesn't take a few minutes to cook and DON'T forget anything. The penalty is being identified as The Ditz of the season.
- One other way to get labeled a complete jackass is to lie to Ramsay about reusing a dish, something that led to the downfall of Salvatore in Season 7, Brendan in Season 9 and Gia in Season 16. Lying is considered disloyalty on HK like it is on The Apprentice, which WILL get you kicked off the show if your name isn't Elise.
- Another really stupid move is not helping your team during a punishment, such as Season 12's Mike, Season 13's JR and Denine, and Season 16's Pat. Doing so will cause your team to hate you, and you will constantly be put up for elimination (bonus points if you're responsible in some part for the team receiving the punishment in the first place such as accomplishing the first WAI note on this page of using canned/frozen/prepackaged food note ). None of the aforementioned contestants made it past the fourth episode, with Pat being the first one out his season.
- Anytime someone argues or gets into a shouting match with the sous chefs, considering the only person in the kitchen who outranks them is Chef Ramsay himself, and some of them can be just as fierce (and in Scott's case, perhaps even worse).
- Family services have been an annual occurrence at Hell's Kitchen since the fourth season, and Gordon's family is always in attendance for these services (Sous Chef James has had his family appear too). Cooking for them is a big deal.
You'd Expect: The chef cooking for Gordon's family would make sure to get it right, and watch out for sabotages from other people such as the producers, who are eager to get them into trouble for this critical order.
Instead: The chef proceeds to send up something unacceptable such as a cold cheeseburger or undercooked, pink chicken, which prompts a Papa Wolf attack on them from Ramsay.
- One of the blue team's punishments was having a keycode lock on their storeroom, which had to be used in order to get their ingredients.
You'd Expect: With the keycode in hand, they at least have one person on hand remember the code.
Instead: Andrew decided to use tape to cheat out of it, only for Sous Chef Scott to catch him doing it, and get seriously reamed out.
- On episode 6, the red team was seriously struggling on their own menu items, and Ramsay, having already ordered their rack of lamb removed from the menu after Sara couldn't cook it, suggested that they take one of their salmon entrees and turn it into a simpler dish.
You'd Expect: Sara to just do what Ramsay was suggesting. She's on thin enough ice as it is after the lamb debacle, and at least this way Sara will be able to blame Maribel, who is on the fish station, for not being able to cook the dish as originally designed.
Instead: She snarks that changing the dish would be inconsistent — even though they haven't managed to send one out yet — and gets a hell of a tongue-lashing from Ramsay. Probably the only reason she doesn't get eliminated that episode is because Maribel had been so consistently weak throughout the season.
- On episode 9, Keith was eliminated, as Gordon didn't feel he had the right attitude or leadership qualities, even though Virginia, the other one on the chopping block, had weaker skills.
You'd Expect: He would take the compliment of Ramsay's saying he had potential and talent but wasn't ready yet to run his own kitchen.
Instead: First, he ARGUES with Ramsay, asking if he is really saying Virginia is a better leader, and then tells him he thinks Ramsay has a hard-on for her. This outburst only serves as confirmation that Ramsay made the right decision after all.
- In Episode 8, the first black jacket service took place, but Ramsay caught Josh cooking risotto not on order.
You'd Expect: Josh not do that again. After all, this is the part of the competition where the contestants are judged more, and that they have never cooked food that has not been ordered before in the past. Plus, he has not had a good service all season, so this was not the night to fuck up.
Instead: He continues to cook food not on order, this time involving spaghetti, frustrating Ramsay even more.
As a Result: When an undercooked risotto was sent back, Ramsay finally had enough, and eliminated Josh while service was going on.
- Episode 2 saw Corey named the Best of the Worst, which means she gets to nominate two of her teammates to be put up for elimination.
You'd Expect: Corey to nominate Sharon right off the bat, considering her disastrous performance on the meat station. For the second nominee, she had a choice between Roseann, who was disorganised and slow in her role as the service's assistant maître d, and Christina, who Ramsay said had "given up" before shutting down the service.
Instead: Corey "strategically" nominates Christina, but for being "condescending" rather than the fact that Ramsay felt she didn't give it her all. Her second nominee? She "personally" nominates Jen. The only reason being that she finds Jen annoying and wants her out.
As a Result: Ramsay ignores the nominations altogether and eliminates Sharon, who Corey didn't pick. At the beginning of episode 3, Jen and Christina were angry over Corey being strategic and personal with the nominations. Even the Blue team, who had some amusement over the resulting drama, felt Corey was playing a dangerous game, with Petrozza thinking that she was acting on "evil tendencies".
- On episode 4, Ben saw that his team reached a good 6 tickets left to go in the fourth episode's Family Night service.
You'd Expect: Ben to keep his mouth shut and get back to work.
Instead: He does a high-five and congratulates his team on their work, which Ramsay overheard. Cue Mood Whiplash when Ramsay mocks him and tells him the women's team has only two tickets to their six. The ladies had to be brought in to help.
As a Result: Ben never left Ramsay's crosshairs for the remainder of his time on the show, being given extra individual punishments when his team lost challenges, and getting bullseyed by the chef three episodes later.
- The third episode had a double steakhouse dinner service. The blue team won the challenge earlier, and got the choice of cooking first or second; they cooked first, and as the service began, Ramsay told Ben "Desserts, pick up".
You'd Expect: For Ben to interpret that this means keep the station manned, and of course, keep in mind that the desserts come much later, if the blue team can get to them. If confused, ask. You may get yelled at, but it doesn't hurt that much.
Instead: Ben interpreted this as "give Ramsay the desserts", and made a few and brought them up to the pass right away, before Charlie on apps can even complete an order. Ramsay was very unimpressed with him doing this, and harshly made fun of him for his sitcom-style mistake. Seth, the resident Butt-Monkey and weakest chef that season, even admitted that while he did stupid stuff, Ben's maneuver was embarrassing. For extra points, the team never even reached desserts due to having a disaster on the grill, and they went on to lose the night.
- On episode 9, Carol's gratin dauphinoise potatoes were very raw and hard due to her not cooking them fully before service began (that alone was a stupid mistake), and said that it could take another ten minutes to get them cooked properly.
You'd Expect: Carol to drop the potato dish and make another one on the fly.
Instead: She tried pouring cream on them in an vain attempt to save them, only for Ramsay to catch her in the act, and dump them in the trash.
As a Result: Carol became the first person to be eliminated from the winning team as Ramsay felt that she had given up.
- In the first episode, Ramsay commented that Melinda's spaghetti looked undercooked, which prompted her to throw the whole batch in the trash instead of just cooking it for a bit longer. This is a big enough What an Idiot! moment in of itself, but then Ramsay leafed through the trash and found a huge amount of spaghetti that she had wasted over the course of the night.
You'd Expect: Melinda to admit fault on throwing away the undercooked spaghetti, but point out that the reason why she had to ditch most of the other spaghetti was because Tek kept ruining the scallops, which required the entire dish to be recooked. Additionally, she wasn't even the person who wasted most of the spaghetti; that was Lovely, who had abandoned her station for a snack break five minutes beforehand.
Instead: She spends the next five minutes with a deer-in-the-headlights expression on her face and acts as if she's totally unaware of the fact that Ramsay is yelling at her and trying to extract an explanation.
As a Result: This proved fatal as, despite Amanda and Lovely making far worse mistakes in the service, Ramsay eliminated Melinda that night for her spaced-outness and the amount of spaghetti she supposedly wasted. Ramsay's parting shot: "Melinda was completely lost in space, so I sent her back to whatever planet she came from."
- In episode 2, Ramsay asked Joseph who the blue team's nominees were.
You'd Expect: He, like every other chef before and after him, would call out the nominees properly.
Instead: For some reason, he decided to say that the two nominees (Tony and Andy) could speak for themselves, which led to Ramsay calling him a smartass.
Then You'd Expect: After Ramsay asked him again, that he do it properly.
Instead: He calls out Tony and Andy's names, but without proper reasons, making Ramsay even more frustrated, and Joseph gets angry as a result. After a shouting match, the chefs remind him to show some respect and calm down.
It's By That Point You'd Expect: Joseph to calm down, and apologize.
Instead: He refuses to, gets even angrier, and even threatens to beat up Ramsay.
As a Result: Ramsay finally had enough of his poor attitude, and ordered him to leave.
As a Final Point: Joseph said during his Elimination Statement that anyone would be proud to hire him... immediately after he blew up on national television, displaying a horrendous temper and an inability to follow instructions. (Oh, and threatened to beat up his boss, something sure to go over great in interviews.) Ramsay even commented, "What an idiot."
- In episode 5, the challenge was to create a tasting menu for an upcoming Welcome Home Party, and Robert and Suzanne are chosen to listen in on the wife's suggestions on the menu.
You'd Expect: They take the knowledge in as this menu is for the husband's likes, and not their own likes.
Instead: While Robert does just that, Suzanne does not, deciding to make dishes she knew, and forced her team to make them, even ignoring Tennille's suggestion on a jambalaya sauce.
As a Result: The red team missed all the cues that the wife wanted (such as soul food, grilled lobster, etc), and lost the challenge 1-2.
- In the fifth episode, the teams have a challenge involving cooking pork dishes with a certain side. Due to a poor performance in the first half of the challenge, the team ends up with a slightly awkward selection of ingredients including pork tenderloin, ham hock, blood sausage, apples, sweet potato and prunes. The team quickly agrees on pairing the tenderloin and apples, but are unsure of how to pair the remaining four.
You'd Expect: The ham hock and prunes to be paired together (possibly in a salad or something similar) due to their similar natural sweetness, and the blood sausage with the sweet potatoes, which will take the edge off the sausage's taste. Failing that, the team could at least produce something that doesn't break the rules of the challenge.
Instead: Scott browbeats the rest of the team into producing a blood sausage and prune purée dish, along with a sweet potato soup garnished with some ham hock. The former dish ends up tasting so bad that it nearly makes Ramsay throw up, and the latter violates the challenge rules since the sweet potato is meant to be a garnish to the ham hock, not the other way around. Unsurprisingly, the team loses.
- Later that episode the red team also loses the service, and Fran is named the Best of the Worst, giving her the task of picking which two chefs should face elimination that week. It looks as if she'll have an easy choice to pick Maria and Scott, who screwed up badly in this and previous services, but Scott corners her in the dorms and tells her that chances are Ramsay will eliminate both him and Maria if they're nominated, which will leave the team down two members.
You'd Expect: Fran to realize that Scott is just trying to save his own neck, and tell him to fuck off, keeping in mind that Ramsay had never eliminated two chefs on the same night after nomination before (the first time this would occur is during Season 11).
Alternatively: If Fran was worried about a double elimination occurring she could have nominated Siobhan rather than Scott, as she had screwed up badly enough to justify being nominated, yet had done sufficiently better than Maria that she likely wouldn't be eliminated.
Or Better Yet: Fran would remember that Ramsay can and will ignore the nominations and eliminate whoever he feels deserves it, so not nominating Scott won't guarantee his safety.
Instead: Fran nominates Maria... and Nilka, who had been the team's best performer in most of the prior services. This move not only makes her look like a gullible idiot and leads to Ramsay rejecting her nominations (calling up Scott and Maria anyway, the latter of whom got the boot), but alienates Nilka and completely shatters the team's morale, leading to an even more lopsided defeat the following episode.
As a Result: Scott is eliminated after this for his egotistical nature being nowhere near his inept cooking level as a result, something he didn't take well.
- In episode 2, Vinny serves as an assistant maître d', while Raj is in charge of sides. Vinny does not have faith in Raj being able to handle his station.
You'd Expect: Vinny to just get on with his job. It's not like Gordon will yell at him if Raj screws up.
Instead: He suggests to the customers that they don't order sides. One of the tables informs maître d' James of this advice, which leads James to drag Vinny with him to the pass.
As a Result: When Gordon finds out about the suggestion, he's furious, and removes Vinny from the service completely. Raj meanwhile takes Vinny's actions as a massive insult towards him, further exacerbating his inability to get on with the rest of the team.
- The following episode, Raj manages to use up the team's entire supply of Dover sole just serving the first few tables. Ramsay is understandably pissed off about this, and orders Raj to go out to the dining room to apologize to the affected diners and get substitute orders.
You'd Expect: That Raj, who by his own admission doesn't cope well in a hot kitchen, would take the opportunity to have a quick breather in the cooler dining room. If nothing else, you'd certainly think that he'd just do what Ramsay tells him, considering how annoyed he already is.
Instead: Raj protests that he doesn't want to go into the dining room because his clothes are dirty. Ramsay bluntly says that he doesn't care whether Raj is wearing clean clothes, dirty clothes or nothing but a thong, and tells him to get out of the kitchen.
You'd Then Expect: Raj to finally take the hint and do what he's being told.
Instead: He apparently decides that sous chef Scott will be more sympathetic, and tries protesting his case to him. Scott angrily (and loudly) sends Raj packing into the dining room, doubtless contributing to Raj's eventual elimination despite being on the winning team.
- In episode 7, Hell's Kitchen decides to have a Family Night, with members of Gordon's family in attendance. Their order includes a risotto, which Vinny's in charge of preparing.
You'd Expect: That, given how angry Gordon gets whenever the chefs try to serve substandard food to people not related to him, Vinny would make sure not to cock this order up.
Instead: He tries to serve a risotto that was prepared a few minutes earlier. Cue Gordon going Papa Wolf on him.
- Episode 2 is a prime example of why you should never lie to Ramsay. During dinner service, Brendan decided to send up a sea bass he cooked ten minutes ago, but a suspicious Ramsay asked him if it was an old portion.
You'd Expect: Brendan to admit is was, and while he would be berated for being lazy, he would be at least honest.
Instead: He lies to Ramsay, claiming that he sent that portion to the trash, but was forced to admit his lie after Ramsay threatened to turn the entire kitchen on its head.
As a Result: When the blue team loses, Brendan is nominated, and then eliminated for lying to Ramsay.
- During the first service, Sebastian, after messing up two risottos, started trying to be loose by saying people's names funny. The first one, Mikey Wikey, went undetected, but the second one, Zacky Wacky, got Ramsay's attention. Ramsay laid into him, then ejected him from the service.
You'd Expect: Sebastian to head straight upstairs, and sit and wait for elimination, since events in the kitchen were now out of his control for that service.
Instead: After leaving the kitchen, he turns around and comes right back in. Ramsay yells at him to get out a second time.
To Make Matters Worse: After Michael and Barrett mess up their meat, Sebastian returns for the third time, disgusting Gordon, who calls him up front. After ordering Michael and Barrett out of the kitchen, he informs Sebastian that if he reenters the kitchen a fourth time, he'll kick him out of the competition, and eject him through the front door (meaning a walk of shame through the dining room) at that.
As a Result: Sebastian stays upstairs this time until the after service meeting, but he was eliminated for this anyway, with Ramsay feeling he wasn't taking the competition seriously.
- A few episodes later, Hell's Kitchen hosted a breakfast service with scrambled eggs, but this service is also an elimination challenge. Prior to the service, the teams are shown sample dishes that Gordon cooked beforehand to study.
You'd Expect: For the chefs to leave them alone once they've got the idea down, and if they need a mid-service refresher, not to confuse the samples, which would now be cold, from the ones they're cooking.
Instead: In the blue team, Jeremy took one of the samples to the back, and inadvertently serves it to the pass without noticing it was the older dish from earlier. Ramsay did notice, and calls the entire team up, rips into Jeremy and Dan for being "disgusting pigs" for attempting to serve one of the samples, which now could make someone sick, and forces the team to redo that specific order. Jon notes Jeremy as an idiot for this, but the blue team was able to win anyway.
As a Result: At elimination, they get rewarded... with Jeremy getting ejected from their team, something that's only happened a few times before (such as with Season 5's Carol and Season 8's Raj), and Ramsay called it a reward for them.
- The beginning of Episode 3 saw that Denine was unhappy about being nominated.
You'd Expect: Denine to spend time with her team, at least for encouragement and to discuss how to do better in future services.
Instead: She heads straight upstairs and concentrates more on looking out for herself.
As a Result: This didn't go unnoticed by the red team, which follows into the rest of the episode.
- Also from Episode 3, the red team lost the challenge and Denine is annoyed about the loss.
You'd Expect: Denine to just get on with the punishment and simply see to it that it's done.
Instead: Denine spends her time aimlessly wandering around the kitchen and annoying her teammates.
As a Result: The red team get annoyed by Denine's lack of participation which carries over to service. Kalen refuses to let Denine help her, and they use that to get her eliminated.
- On Episode 8, Hell's Kitchen hosted a Dog Show that season, and had a challenge to create a sample dish for the guests.
You'd Expect: That they all know that they were cooking for the guests watching the dog show.
Instead: Sade, for some reason, though they were cooking for the dogs, and made dog food as a result. And it was only after the cooking time that she realized her mistake. Despite that, she lucked out only because the blue team had an extra person, and her dish was immediately taken off.
You'd Also Expect: That the other members of the Blue Team notice Sade's error and correct her right away, especially since Sade states out loud that she was making dog food.
Instead: Their lack of communication allows Sade to continue cooking food for the dogs, not the guests.
- On Episode 1, during the Signature Dish Challenge, it's revealed that Monique's dish contained pre-made sauce, which is one of the worst things you can possibly do in said challenge.
You'd Expect: That she would realize that it was a mistake and apologize for not realizing that it was not what Ramsay was looking for.
Instead: She argues that Ramsay should have said something before cooking her dish.
As a Result: This attitude and argument leaves a bad impression with the red team, which follows well into Episode 5.
- On Episode 3, Michael accidentally heated up a pan to the point of it being smoking hot.
You'd Expect: Michael to let the team and Ramsay know that the pan was smoking hot. He might get scolded for it, but Ramsay will put it away safely so no one can get hurt.
Instead: Michael has a bright idea of putting it on top of the colder pans under the fish station, where Bret and Josh were working.
As a Result: Ramsay catches him in the act, and is understandably shocked at how dangerous Michael was for doing what he did. Had he not caught on, Bret or Josh could have suffered a third-degree burn. Michael was eliminated for this mistake.
- On Episode 4, the red team was kicked out of service for a third time, and decided to put up Mieka and Monique (who were on the meat station) for elimination. T realises that if Mieka goes up, she will likely be eliminated.
You'd Expect: The team to stick with the nominations. If Mieka is eliminated, at least they have shown good judgement in regards to picking the correct nominees.
Instead: Alison decides to be strategic with the nominations. They pick Sarah (who had a bad service in her own right) to go with Monique.
As a Result: While Ramsay did agree that Sarah didn't do well, he saves her and eliminates Mieka out of the blue. Monique even told Ramsay that they avoided picking Mieka in order to eliminate her. This further alienated her from the group. Adam summed up the moment very well.
- On Episode 5, Monique is spared once again at elimination, and Meghan decides to give her a chance with the team by being more open with them so they could function as a team.
You'd Expect: That Monique will be open with her team, and try to rebuild any respect she lost during the first four episodes.
Instead: She does not, and basically tells her teammates to go fuck themselves.
As a Result: This causes the red team to deem her a lost cause, and when they lose the next dinner service, Monique is nominated and, soon after, eliminated.
- On Episode 4, the red team are prepping up for service, and get a prep list started.
You'd Expect: That the team leaves the list alone and use it only for reference..
Instead: Jackie decided to be funny and rename it The Fucking List.
As a Result: None of her teammates were impressed, leaving a bad image for Jackie that stayed until her elimination, and Sous Chef Christina gives her a massive tongue lashing.
- On Episode 10, the challenge involved breakfast dishes, and the red team had to pick either Ariel or Jackie's dish for judging.
You'd Expect: That they pick Ariel's dish since she has been the strongest in challenges so far, especially since she's going up against Jared, one of the strongest chefs on the blue team.
Instead: They decided to go for Jackie's dish based on a better presentation. Unfortunately for them, Jackie's dish tasted awful and she scored a low 3.
As a Result: The red team lost the challenge 23-25.
- On Episode 3, the red team lost the service and have to nominate two people for elimination. While Gia was an obvious candidate due to her poor performance on meat and lying about a cut, they need a second person up.
You'd Expect: They try to debate between either Kimberly or Jessica as the second due to both of them were the weakest chefs of the red team at the time.
Instead: Jessica flat out admits defeat and wants to be nominated despite making only one mistake that night, while also announcing her intent to pack up just in case she goes home.
You'd Also Expect: The red team to convince Jessica to fight back and not throw in the towel.
Instead: None of them, minus Kimberly, does that, and the nominations are Gia and Jessica.
As a Result: Jessica is eliminated for giving up over one mistake after Gia tells Ramsay what happened at the dorms, and Jessica is left beating herself up during her exit interview for self nominating herself.
- On Episode 8, both teams are prepping for a dance competition service, but Shaina asks Johnny if he should be searing the sea bass during prep as the red team did before.
You'd Expect: Johnny listen to Shaina and do so. After all, by this point, the blue team only won two services and were kicked out in all but three services that season so they really need the win.
Instead: He arrogantly ignores Shaina and come dinner service, Johnny is frantically trying to sear fish off when entrees come around, leaving the blue team 10 tables behind the red team.
As a Result: The blue team loses the service, and Johnny is eliminated.
- On Episode 5, Josh, after a miserable night on garnish, gets kicked out of the red kitchen after being caught holding cold garnishes when the cooked protein was on the hot pass.
You'd Expect: That he waits up at the dorms, and prays that the red team wins service (worst case is that he would be eliminated from the winning team).
Instead: He decides to go back to the kitchen because "his body told him to".
As a Result: Ramsay decides to eliminate Josh mid-service as he can not deal with him anymore.
- On Episode 3, Jen gets called by Ramsay after not cooking enough garnish for the current order.
You'd Expect: That she says "Yes Chef", cooks more garnish, and wait til after service to voice her irritations.
Instead: She argues with Ramsay mid-service and, long story short, ACCUSES HIM OF SABOTAGING HER.
As a Result: She gets eliminated mid-service and is forced to walk out the front door. Much to the relief of the Blue Team.
- On Episode 6, the challenge involved making potato dishes, but because the women had an extra person, they had to drop somebody to even the dishes 6-6.
You'd Expect: They taste the dishes as it's one of the biggest points of considerations for these challenges.
Instead: T pushed on presentation, and they sat out Kanae's dish for a clunky presentation. Unfortunately, both T and Gizzy had underwhelming dishes and scored 3 points.
As a Result: The women lost to the men after a tie at 40 each. Oh, and Kanae's would have scored an 8 had it been used, meaning that there wouldn't have been a tie breaker in the first place.
- The winner of Season 11, Ja'Nel, was unable to take up the job at Caesar's Palace because they tested positive for cocaine.
- And then a similar thing has happened to Dave from season 6, who was found in possession of massive amounts of heroin and cocaine, as well as sharing company with a known drug baron. How... disappointing.