Hell’s Kitchen hit a milestone, you guys!
Yes, we’ve officially met the 20th season mark with Hell’s Kitchen Season 20 Episode 1, and they commemorated it with some callbacks, tributes, and appearances from those who’ve been part of this process over the seasons.
However, Ramsay went for something different this season by looking for his next young protege among 18 contestants, all 23-years-old or younger.
What were YOU doing at 21-years-old? I’ll tell what I wasn’t doing — partaking in a reality competition show with my idol in hopes of serving as head chef at a restaurant of the highest esteem in Vegas.
The talent-packed into this bunch of semi-adults is rather impressive, but you already know it’s going to be a WILD season with varying personalities and kiddos who’re barely past their teen years.
I don’t know if Ramsay knows what he signed up for with this theme.
However, as someone who takes the role of mentor seriously and understands and remembers the value of being under someone’s tutelage to hone your craft, I respect him for giving these “young guns” the shot at making their dream control at their age.
For most people at their age, they’re barely getting their foot in the door of the industry, and it’s years before the world takes them seriously.
What serves as a reality check on occasion is when the brood of wide-eyed, ecstatic chefs referenced the series and how they grew up watching it, and damn.
Some of us are getting old. Think about it, the chefs squeeing over the presence of Season 10 winner Christina were 13 TOPS when she won! What?!
It’s safe the say the remainder of the season will have these “WTF” moments.
And we expect others too when Ramsay and his staff and colleagues can’t decipher what the hell these young Millennials, Zennials, Gen Z’s (?) are even talking about half of the time.
The hour spent a bit of time giving nods at the seasons prior with flashbacks and trips down memory lane while introducing the new kids to the process.
They didn’t choose any iconic moments from the previous seasons to focus on during the montages and all. They probably could’ve kept some of that to a minimum.
There are so many notable moments on the series over the years that it’s hard to list all of them, yet, they bypassed some of the most infamous, happiest, or thrilling.
They didn’t touch on any of the most memorable contestants, neither the lovable ones nor the loathsome ones. We did get a smattering of Ramsey-isms, though.
The young guns proved they’re ready to show everyone what they have with their signature dishes.
Kudos to the brood; they had some of the strongest signature dishes in years.
We actually made it through the entire presentation without Gordon busting out some of his trademark barbs and destroying someone’s dream with one line or a look.
It does make you wonder if he’s taking it easy on them at the moment. Is he easier on them because of their ages, and he’s feeling things out, or were they impressive enough not to warrant him at his worst?
I mean, it’s coming, they’re going to push him to the limit sooner rather than later, but it did feel as if he was handling them with a bit of the kid gloves he usually reserves for the kiddos on Master Chef Jr.
The young ones came in strong with their signature dishes, and while the Red team started well and maintained their lead, the Blue team was giving them a run for the money.
Right now, it does seem as if the women have the strongest cooks. And if anyone is leading the pack, it’s the baby-faced, Jane-of-All-Trades Morgana.
She’s emerging as a personal favorite at the moment, and when she described how she climbed her way up from 16, you can’t help but root for her.
What started as an accidental assignment as a line cook when she applied for a job threw her into the deep end of cooking that challenges people twice her age.
Morgana has worked in nearly every position in a kitchen. She’s cooked, tended bar, served — the works. You have to respect someone like Morgana because she’s confident in her abilities, but she’s also humble and won’t be the arrogant sort who thinks she’s above everything else.
The best way to hone in on your craft is to know all parts of it, climb the ranks, and yes, even do the grunt work.
Knowing what we do about Gordon Ramsay and how he went through the muck, busted his bum, and checked his ego at the door to climb the ranks to his position, you know he’ll respect the hell out of Morgana.
He was beside himself with her pan-seared duck and Brussel Sprouts. She earned the top score of five, and he declared her offering the dish of the night.
Morgana came out the gate the one to beat, so we’ll have to see if she’s able to maintain that caliber.
Emily was another standout. Admittedly, one of the reasons she was so impressive was her ability to present Ramsay with a vegetarian dish that he enjoyed.
It’s no secret he isn’t the biggest fan of the vegan/vegetarian dishes, and he’s had issues with chefs in the past who were incapable of cooking meat, tasting their food, or things of that nature.
Emily’s admission that she used to battle eating disorders and cooking and vegetarianism is what got her through it certainly made her sympathetic, and you could sense her passion.
She also admitted that she does taste her food to guarantee it’s right, and that’s something Ramsay could appreciate. Somehow, I think she’ll fare better than Josie, the vegan, with her herbal soup that nearly burned his mouth off.
Kiya, the hunter with 67 guns, impressed with her dish, and Keanu’s cajun seafood alfredo did look like she succeeded in the spice.
The guys mostly made some amateurish errors, though. Matthew not deveining his shrimp was enough to make you gag! Why would you serve poopy shrimp to Gordon Ramsay?! Is that what you want to be known for, hm?!
Jay was way too ambitious with his shrimp etouffee in less than an hour. As Gordon said, it takes the entire 45-minute limit to make a halfway decent roux for that dish!
And Kevin’s butchering the hell out of a rib eye was the ultimate offense. Bro, WHERE IS THE BEEF?! You know you’ve mucked it up when there’s a Brit, a European, scolding an AMERICAN about his portions being too small.
We notoriously have excessive portions that make the rest of the world’s stomachs turn.
Historically, it’s because of a concept of sharing our meals or having enough to take home with us, not because we’re always eating it in on sitting, FYI. But Kevin’s three tiny strips of strategically placed rib eye in the middle of a plate the size of Saturn was disgraceful.
The guys weren’t a total lost cause, though, thanks to Steve’s to-die-for saffron poached shrimp and Sam’s perfectly cooked fish.
It just wasn’t enough to keep the guys from kitchen prep punishment while the girls went out to celebrate with a few of the former female winners and Ramsay.
I anticipated more advice about what it’s like as a woman in the field and fighting through this competition, but it seemed as if they spent more time in awe of these young contestants and how confident and assured they were at their age.
The hour mostly dragged with its introduction, and we didn’t even jump into a dinner session yet. That’s where all the action is!
We didn’t get an elimination during the first hour, but if I had to bet who may end up on the chopping block first, it’s Brynn.
She had a lot of screentime and diary sessions, for starters. But Brynn didn’t stand out with her signature dish either, and she’s already overwhelmed by the process.
Her anxiety reared its ugly head on the first night, and her teammates were there to console and support her. It was nice to see the camaraderie there. However, this is a competition, so I wonder if it’ll catch up to her if her team deems her a liability.
Brynn seems sweet, and it’d be nice to see what she’s capable of, but at the moment, she’s high up on the list for the first on the chopping block.
Of course, the challenge Gordon issued may level the field. The teams cooking and creating dishes with some of the best booze should be a dream.
Anyone who cooks knows that alcohol can be your friend. Unfortunately, these younguns may get distracted by the booze and fail to make the best dishes.
That may give Brynn a fighting chance while the others are blaming it on the alcohol.
The real fun will start when the competition kicks off, and they start using that punishment card. Bring it!
Over to you, Hell’s Kitchen Fanatics. What did you think of the premiere?!
You can watch Hell’s Kitchen online here via TV Fanatic.
Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.