In the Season 9 Finale of Hell’s Kitchen, every remaining contestant is given a nickname for their performance throughout the season. Paul Niedermann had a slow start in the competition, but later had a great performance and passionate performance. As the most intense chef, he was nicknamed the Pit Bull. Tommy Stevens, with an unorthodox style of cooking, was nicknamed the Wild Card. Even though Tommy was usually quiet, in the last two episodes he made his voice heard in the kitchen. Will Lustberg was nicknamed The Machine, and called a technician by Chef Gordon Ramsay. Elise Wims was nicknamed The Fighter, need I say why? With the stage set for a battle between very different individuals, who would win the prize of being the next Head Chef at BLT Steak?
After the introductions, Will defended his decision to backup Elise over Jennifer in the last episode, saying she is “honestly a good cook.” For this episode, Chef Gordon Ramsay took on the challenge to inspire the 4 remaining chefs. As a surprise, Ramsay brought out Elise’s son (Chris Jr.), her husband (Chris), and her aunt (Dolores). At a rare and tender moment for Elise, she gave her honest opinion of what she felt and said she missed her son. Tommy saw his girlfriend (Kaitlin), and his mom (Diana). Paul was visited by his brother (Chris). Will’s mother Michelle and wife Tara came to the show to inspire him. They were all given some time to re-unite. Ramsay had to scold Tommy for making out with 19 year old girlfriend Kaitlin, right next to his mother (Diana)! Everyone was left inspired, especially Will, who claimed that he was ready to kill everyone and sort out the bodies after.
For the individual challenge, the contestants got Chef Ramsay’s most difficult challenge, called “taste it, now make it.” The chefs got to taste a dish Ramsay made and then they had to make it in 35 minutes. The winner would get to spend the rest of the day with their family. They got no information about the ingredients. The most important part is identifying the main protein. Elise was having trouble deciding whether the fish was a cod or halibut. Ramsay gave them the hint that they could use two fish and drop one at the end. Will and Tommy chose a monkfish, Elise chose the halibut, while Paul chose both monkfish and cod, in the end he went with cod. Tommy chose Serrano ham because he thought that prosciutto was too salty. Will, Elise, and Paul, all decided to use prosciutto. They all chose mushroom, kale, and cream to garnish their entrees.
Prosciutto was the right ingredient and Tommy was the only one to get it wrong. The closest contestant between the 3 was Paul. Paul got a chance to spend the day with his brother, who’s also Paul’s best friend, Chris. Together they watched the L.A. Dodgers game. As punishment, the rest had “moving day” in Hell’s Kitchen. Elise couldn’t hold back the tears.
At the Dodger stadium, Tommy Lassorda (a Dodger legend), greeted Paul and his brother. Next, they got to meet the players and managers.
In the meantime, Will was complaining that cleaning down the dorms was a horrible punishment “because females are disgusting creatures.”
At the game, Gordon Ramsay threw the first pitch and was very proud that “it didn’t bounce.” Later, at the dinner service that determined the final two competitors, Paul was first in charge at the pass and caught Tommy’s undercooked fish. Good eye, but then he had to deal with Chef Ramsay’s sabotage as Chef Todd put shrimp instead of lobster in the capellini. Paul failed his first quality control. Tommy would not answer Paul’s request for the time for the cod. Instead of calming down and helping Tommy, Paul got even more frustrated, aggravating the situation.
Tommy was second at the pass. Tommy had issues keeping control at the pass, forgetting the orders and not enunciating properly so the rest could understand. Chef Ramsay’s next sabotage came when Tommy got a false order intended to confuse him. Tommy called out the orders even though they were not on the menu. Even though Tommy called out uneven times, the orders were fulfilled.
Elise was third at the pass. She gave great orders, but her sabotage was that Chef Ramsay switched the cauliflower puree with potato puree. She was devastated at not having tasted the difference. She became emotional, especially because Ramsay pressured her with criticism for not tasting the difference. After a moment, she recovered… just in time to face another sabotage. Chef Matt switched the potato mash with parsnip puree. She caught it and Ramsay congratulated her. She found her rhythm and enjoyed it!! Once she got used to the position, she was great at it.
Next, it was Will’s turn at the pass. Chef Scott switched beef with lamb, which Will expertly caught. Elise left raw pasta in her spinach, put black pepper in the potatoes, so Will felt like she was purposely sabotaging him. When Will confronted her, communication broke down and the other contestants stopped communicating with him. Will had great quality control, but bad team motivation skills.
Rather than make the team choose two people for elimination, Ramsay asked each to come up with a reason why they should be allowed to move on to the final. Ramsay claimed that he learned to understand and appreciate Tommy, but he was just not ready to become the next Head Chef of BLT Steak New York, kicking Tommy out of the show. Ramsay said that he loved Tommy’s energy and that he belonged in the kitchen. Ramsay then asked the remaining contestants why they deserved to remain in the competition. Will said he is a chef. Paul said he communicated well, commanded respect, and motivated his team. Elise believes she grew the most in the competition. Ramsay chose Will and said he could envision both Elise and Paul in the final. However, Ramsay went on to say that one of them could command the kitchen better (when Ramsay said that, Paul immediately said “f@*k”), and then chose Paul. Watching the finale, we all thought Elise did a better job at commanding. However, Ramsay chose to eliminate Elise, but gave her the black jacket as a gift, “you deserve it!”
Ramsay rewarded Paul and Will by taking them out to dinner. As they approached the limo, their families came out. When they arrived at the restaurant, Ramsay told them the restaurant is new and the chef is from New York. When Ramsay took them to the kitchen, they got a rock star introduction to a HUGE crowd (who later watched them cook), where they were given one hour to come up with 5 dishes that could appear on the BLT menu. The menu had to include a seafood appetizer, a salad, a seafood entrée, a bone-in rib eye and a filet of beef. Paul and Will had to present to 5 judges from BLT. The first judge was Executive Chef from BLT in Washington, DC, Victor Albisu. Will’s seafood appetizer won. The next judge was Executive Chef at BLT Los Angeles, Chef Brian Moyers. Paul’s salad won. Chef de Cuisine from BLT Honolulu, Johan Svennson judged the seafood entree. Paul’s seafood entrée won. Executive Chef of BLT Steak New York, Cliff Brooks judged the rib eye entree. Will won the rib eye entrée. Finally, the President of BLT Steak, Keith Treyball. To win the challenge, Treyball chose Will.
For the dinner service, most of the cast was brought back to the show. Will chose Tommy, Natalie Blake, Jennifer Normant, and Krupa Patel (just so he could see Carrie Keep matched up with Elise… hahaha, way to go Will!). Paul chose Elise, Elizabeth Bianchi, Jonathon Plumley, and he was stuck with Carrie (and Elise). Paul made it very clear that he did not want to see Elise and Carrie fight.
Will’s menu was accepted by Ramsay, but Paul’s menu had issues. His crab stuffed tomato was bland because Paul didn’t taste it before presenting it. Paul had a very personal moment confessing that he promised his mother before she died that he was going to win. Elise was making an effort to cooperate with Paul to win the competition for him, but Chef Ramsay pestered her when she undercooked the shrimp. I wonder if he did this on purpose to drive Elise’s performance down. Natalie served great appetizers and on time. Will got too nervous and put fish in the oven to get ahead of time, only to get reprimanded by Ramsay. Elisabeth overcooked the scallops, then she undercooked them. Krupa could not cook the fish. Jonathon undercooked the steaks, stopping Paul’s kitchen. In the meantime, Will was having problems with Krupa. Jonathon’s meat was still raw, and Paul had to kick him out of the meat station, with Elise to take over.
Ramsay read through each comment card to make his decision. Will seemed to have said it best when he said “I have a coin’s flip’s chance of winning.” The two worked great in the kitchen with teams full of people who had been kicked out for a reason. In other words, they made something out of nothing. At this point I should mention that Elise went above and beyond to make Paul’s dinner service work. She helped, she communicated, and she cooked… well. Very impressive, and very unlike Elise.
After over an hour of deciding, Ramsay began by saying it was a very hard decision to make. He said Will was the most consistent. Paul was one of the best chefs and his passion set him aside. The winner of Season 9 of Hell’s Kitchen, the next Head Chef at BLT Steak in N.Y. City, and a salary of $250k…
Paul!!! In a very unselfish moment, as usual, Paul dedicated the win to his mother. Ramsay chose Paul for being passionate, determined, and because as a chef, Paul’s enthusiasm is contagious.