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'Hell's Kitchen' a guilty pleasure on the tube

FOX dishes up a fifth season of Gordon Ramsay’s reality chef season premiering 9 p.m. Thursday

Posted: January 23, 2009 12:12 p.m.
Updated: January 23, 2009 1:00 p.m.
I love "Hell's Kitchen." I shouldn't - but I do. I have enough "guilty pleasures" tucked away in my closet that it's getting very crowded in there. But when it comes to television my guiltiest pleasure is "Hell's Kitchen."

Chef Gordon Ramsay is the living, breathing, walking, talking and screaming cliché of every abusive bad boss who ever lived. He defines the term "hostile workplace."

In the course of my employment career I've worked for a few nitwits like Ramsay. I'm happy to say that modern bosses understand that terrifying the help usually results in poorer performance.

I'm also pleased that none of the bad bosses I've encountered ever turned their asinine behavior into a hit television show like the fortunate Ramsay.

Being a bully shouldn't be encouraged, but here I am, watching Ramsay shout, swear, turn red in the face, stomp around and throw tantrums like a 2-year-old.

Obviously, if people like me stopped watching, then Ramsay wouldn't be making money off his bad behavior.

I have no excuse and I ask for no absolution.

However, for those who want to join me in viewing the premiere of the fifth season of "Hell's Kitchen" tune in on Thursday to Fox (9 p.m. channel 11).

There will be 16 aspiring chefs stepping into "Hell's Kitchen" attempting to win a head chef position at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, N.J.

"Hell's Kitchen" is reality television at its most fiery. If past seasons are any guide the chefs, all with varying degrees of culinary experience and sophistication, will find a way to push the perfectionist Ramsay's buttons during the season.

Ramsay puts the chefs through rigorous culinary challenges, testing to see who will boil under the intense pressure. As reality television dictates, each week one aspiring head chef will be eliminated from the competition.

No Southern Californians are among the current crop of contestants. The new 16 "Hell's Kitchen" chefs are:
The Red Team:
Andrea, 30, a line cook from Reading, Pa.
Carol, 30, a sous chef from Knoxville, Tenn.
Coi, 22, a café cook from Austin, Texas
Colleen, 41, a cooking school instructor from Papillion, Neb.
Ji, 33, a private caterer from Palisades Park, N.J.
LA, 23, a line cook from Las Vegas, Nev.
Lacey, 24, a corporate buffet cook from Charlotte, N.C.
Paula, 28, an executive sous chef from Coconut Creek, Fla.

The Blue Team:
Ben, 26, an executive sous chef from Chicago, Ill.
Charlie, 24, a prep chef from Las Vegas, Nev.
Danny, 23, an executive chef from Edgewater, Fla.
Giovanni, 37, an executive chef from Destin, Fla.
J, 32, a food court chef from Clifton Park, N.Y.
Robert, 29, a sous chef from Quogue, N.Y.
Seth, 27, a private party chef from New York, N.Y.
Wil, 27, a quality-control chef from Elgin, Ill.
Judging from the limited resumes presented I imagine that J and Coi are most likely not long for this season, but that's just an educated guess at this point.
I've always insisted that I learn things from reality television.
From "Survivor" I've learned how to "fly under the radar."
From "Top Chef" I've learned how to cook some interesting food.
From "Top Design" I've learned that ugly is beautiful.
From "The Amazing Race" I've learned about parts of the world I never knew existed and about places I'll never visit.
From "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette" I've learned "love" is relative.
From "American Idol" I've learned you need to have more than a beautiful voice to be a star.
From "Hell's Kitchen" I've learned that I never want to work in a restaurant kitchen.

The premiere of the fifth season of "Hell's Kitchen" is 9 p.m. Thursday, FOX, channel 11.


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