Hell’s Kitchen Left Me Cold

I’ll admit it. I am a fan of most things Ramsey. But too many strange things happened in Hell’s Kitchen this year and it’s left me feeling cold.

If you dig cooking competitions on TV, you should watch Bravo’s Top Chef, where cooking skills are a necessity and it’s not about finding the best entertainer. The contestants’ cooking skills are tested under tough circumstances, and if they don’t know their food…well, their time on the show is short and they’re told to pack their knives and go home. The contestants are often thrown together to work in teams, and the trick is to be a team player and to capture the spotlight. Never underestimate the ego of a chef.

There are three other similar shows: The Next Iron Chef, The Next Food Network Star, and Hell’s Kitchen. Michael Symon was chosen from eight contestants to be the next Iron Chef and the challenges were brutal. It’s not a regular show on the FoodTV Network for good reason: only few hold the title of Iron Chef. The competition is fierce and the reward is culinary immortality. Okay, so that’s a little extreme, but you get my point. I was hoping Chef Symon would win for his mad skills, but I also think he’s kinda hot. And well, hot does count for something.

In the Next Food Network Star, not only are culinary skills challenged, but also teaching skills and stage presence. You must have that certain *something* that finds its way through the camera lens and out to the viewer. And the reward is your own show on the Food Network. You don’t get a restaurant, but you do rub shoulders with some of the best in the game.

And then there’s Hell’s Kitchen. And at the center of it all is the enigmatic Gordon Ramsey. There’s no doubt the man knows his way around the kitchen, but it’s difficult for anyone else to be in there with him. There’s only room for Ramsey’s ego. As difficult as it is to be around him, I’d work in his kitchen any day. He can yell at me for hours and in the end I’d walk away with culinary skills and restaurant knowledge to rival the best. So on the show you fill a kitchen with a bunch of colorful, over-eager wannabe restaurateurs battling against each other to be the senior chef at one of Ramsey’s new restaurants. And then, if that’s not enough, you toss in one giant cup of Ramsey and stir. The winner of each challenge is not always clear, and often, it simply comes down to the whim of Ramsey. Frustrating…but it is his show and his restaurant.

This seasons’ competitors were not fun to watch. Highly annoying is more like it. Their culinary skills were weak and they didn’t play well with others. I was waiting for a hero to emerge, but alas, there was none. If he wants us to watch next season, he’s gonna have to pick better contestants or the show will continue to lose credibility.

Practice Doesn’t Always Make Perfect

So I talked myself in to singing with Mark LaMoreaux’s band. He asked. What’s a girl to do? It’s been quite awhile and I’m feeling a little rusty, but I enjoyed the practice last Tuesday night.

This time, we only have three opportunities to practice. Mr. LaMoreaux is a pro and doesn’t sweat the same stuff I do. Either that or he doesn’t notice it. Or our standards are very different. If it were up to me, all we’d do is practice. Standing in front of people brings an element I’m not comfortable with. I forget to sing loud enough for anyone to hear. If I don’t, Mr L will crank up the volume and then you can hear me in Texas. So whatever I’ve got by Wednesday night, our last night of practice, is all I’m gonna give.

Friday night we’ve got a gig at a local pub. We’ll play some rock, some blues, something that sorta resembles jazz, and some stuff I have no idea what category it fits in. I’ll wear black and try to disappear in to the corner. This is proof that I have lost my mind.

Excuse Me, Sir?

My Mom and I made an early morning run to Home Depot to pick up more paint. We had time to wait and I couldn’t help but look at all the tools painters use…aisles of stuff hanging on pegs and tucked into to cubby holes. I’m dying to get my hands on a paint sprayer; however, I’m smart enough to know it would not be a pretty sight. Perhaps someone would let me practice in a room where nothing could be damaged.

To my surprise, the paint I had purchased three years ago was no longer available in its original form. Well, I wasn’t totally surprised – just not quite ready for plan “b.” Thankfully, I brought the can with me and the oh-so helpful guy with the orange apron mixed me up a huge 5-gallon bucket. He heaved the bucket into the orange cart and we were on our way.

As we made out way to parking lot, after leaving my left cornea as payment for the giant bucket of paint, I realized there was no way I could lift the bucket out of the orange cart. My Mom’s been working out at the gym, but she wasn’t going to be much help. I told my Mom I was going to ask someone for help.

In a breathy voice I said, “Wow. You made that look so easy. Thank you, Sir. Thank you very much.” He chuckled, smiled and then walked back to his giant truck.

The unsuspecting man was rearranging the stuff in his truck so he could unload his orange cart. The guy looked pretty big, so I didn’t think he’d have any difficulty with my 5-gallon bucket. I said, “Excuse me, Sir? Would it be possible for you to help me move this bucket in to my car?” He looked at his cart, looked at the parking lot, and walked over to help.

As the guy got closer his body got bigger. He was tall as a sequoia and just as wide. He was a freakin’ Paul Bunyan. Even before he lifted the bucket from the basket I was in love. He put his hands on the bucket like it was a teacup and without using his arm or back muscles – or making any heaving sounds – he lifted the bucket in to the back of my car. In a breathy voice I said, “Wow. You made that look so easy. Thank you, Sir. Thank you very much.” He chuckled, smiled and then walked back to his giant truck. I had to fight the urge to run after him and throw my arms around his legs and beg him to come to my house and fix things and paint in high places. My Mom was with me…so I edited my thoughts.

When I went to lift the bucket out of the car, I tried to use the same lifting method he did and the bucket wouldn’t budge. I finally gave up and used the stupid handle and walked the bucket in to the house. It’s official. I want one of those in my house. And I’m not talking about the bucket.

Performing the Impossible

Toby and Jenny Sumpter, and their little people, are leaving South Carolina, and coming home to Moscow, where Toby will be pastoring our sister church, Trinity Reformed Church.

You’ve got to read Toby’s blog post, over at Having Two Legs, on the Lord’s Supper. Simply brilliant. If you’re feeling like all the pieces of your life are coming apart…you won’t want to miss this. It’s a perfect reminder of the importance of the Lord’s Supper.




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