5 Hell's Kitchen Chefs We Love to Hate
Elise Wims-Harris is probably the most hated contestant of all time in Hell's Kitchen. Elise is very easy to hate. She is rude, obnoxious, arrogant, selfish, and aggressive. She thinks she is the best in the world at what she does and everyone is beneath her.
During season nine, the Hell's Kitchen roster was divided into the red team (women) and the blue team (men). Each team would participate in two events per episode. One event was the team challenge and the other was the actual dinner service. A victory during team challenges meant great rewards such as shopping trips, fancy lunches, dinners, and fun experiences. Failing such challenges meant arduous manual labor and possibly a disgusting meal. Every time the women lost, Elise was never interested in taking one for the team. She would avoid any heavy lifting and would barely do any work. She would stand there like a princess and barely participate in the task at hand. This made her teammates resent her even more than they already did.
Elise would often act as a bully to her teammates. It did not matter if they were men or women. She is an equal opportunity bully. This has lead to numerous confrontations between her and her teammates. One of her most bitter rivals was Carrie Keep, the pantry chef from Dallas, Texas. The two butted heads until the bitter end. Will Lustberg, one of the finalists, even tried to use Elise and Carrie's feud to sabotage his rival Paul Niedermann by making sure he ended up with both Elise and Carrie in his brigade.
Audiences all over the country wondered if the much despised diva chef would overcome the odds and emerge the winner of season nine. With much relief, it was Paul Niedermann that emerged the winner and rightfully so. Though Elise is very much a talented chef, it is highly doubtful that she can command a brigade. As talented as she is, people do not respect Elise because of her poor attitude. As the old adage goes, people do not care what you know until they know that you care.
Through the long history of Hell's Kitchen, we have seen many chefs inspire their teams to greatness. They elevated their teams into something that is greater than the sum of its parts. This is not the same case for Elise, who will not hesitate to undermine and undercut her teammates in order to push her own selfish agenda.
With Elise returning to the all-star edition of Hell's Kitchen, she has again caught the ire of the contestants of the show. Almost a decade has passed since Elise graced the hallowed halls of Hell's Kitchen but this diva from hell is still as vile as ever.
Gina Aloise, at the age of 49, may have been the second oldest chef in season 11 of Hell's Kitchen, but that does not mean she was the most mature. She broke at the slightest illness. She showed no fire, passion, or fight. She was like this special snowflake who did not have any adversity quotient.
She was the polar opposite of Chef Raymond Alongi, a 51-year-old executive chef from Boston, Massachusetts who tried to be a contributor to his team and tried to use his expertise to help his team. Though he did not have as strong of a showing as he would have liked, he was very mature throughout the whole process.
Gina annoyed and weirded out her teammates when she decided to bring out Alfredo Al Dente—a male chef puppet—and started to play around with it. Instead of resting or planning strategy, the puppet served only as a distraction. The girls are probably thinking, "What is this grown woman doing playing with this puppet?"
Instead of being the elder statesman and gaining the respect of her team by sharing her wealth of experience and expertise, Gina appeared like a whack job who was destined for Arkham Asylum. She could easily be a Batman villain who had sentient puppets as weapons or something to that effect.
Gina was a very weak contestant from the get go. Her pasta and meatballs failed to impress Chef Ramsey during the signature dish challenge. She even left the kitchen in the very first episode due to supposedly not feeling well. She returned and was unceremoniously shown the door for serving raw scallops.
In the end, Gina chose to give an excuse that she needed to attend to personal matters. This was before the team challenge in the third episode of the season. Gina made Hell's Kitchen history by being the first contestant to quit before a challenge commenced. In truth, she felt she was being victimized by her team and took the easy way out.
She was the exact opposite of Dave Levey, the executive chef from San Diego, California. Dave fought the pain of having a broken hand through the latter part of the contest and won despite the odds. He never gave up, persevered, and was rewarded for it in the end. Gina was a quitter right from the very start.
Gina is the textbook example of quitters that never win.
People treat the men and women in uniform with high regard and respect. This is because they risk their lives to protect their country from foreign and domestic threats. Joseph Tinnely at one point was part of the Marines.
What is glaring about Joseph is that he seems to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He seems to have an extremely short fuse and gets angry at the smallest of things. When Gordon asked him to taste food, he asked for utensils because he was not an animal. When they won a challenge, Joseph was contemplating about the competition instead of savoring the reward. When Gordon asked him for the nominees for elimination, he refused to do so. When pressed for the
nomination, he challenged Gordon to step outside and fight him.
What is also off about Joseph is his apparent disrespect for superiors. Though Hell's Kitchen does not have any sergeants or generals, Chef Gordon Ramsay is technically Joseph's superior. Even though Chef Ramsay did not single out Joseph or act disrespectful towards him, Joseph believed he was disrespected and said he was not an animal or a bitch.
Joseph also does not display any camaraderie. He does not seem to like people and did not bond well with his teammates. Even when the blue team won the team challenge, he was more concerned about competing than enjoying the hard fought victory with his team.
Many suspect Joseph was a plant to boost ratings. Further research shows that he is not an actor and is indeed who he says he is. He was a former US Marine and sous chef from Massapequa Park, New York. He was a product of the US Marine Corps boot camp in South Carolina. He is also a graduate of Massapequa High School.
While Joseph never got a black jacket and was eliminated quite early in the competition, he is certainly one of the most memorable chefs in Hell's Kitchen history by nearly coming to blows with Chef Gordon Ramsay.
Russell Kook II
If you looked up the definition of the words sore loser in Webster's dictionary, you would find a picture of Rusell Kook II. He was indeed a talented chef and one of the stronger ones throughout the competition. However, in the end, he did not have what it took to lead his brigade to victory. Instead of taking personal responsibility for the loss, he threw his entire team under the bus.
He said, "I chose the team that I thought would help me win but in fact they helped me lose, so thanks a lot guys. You will never get a job in any city I work in and I will definitely blackball you guys because you guys fucked me so royally."
Here’s another gem from the tough Chicago chef, "I'm pissed. I'm not happy at all...I chose the team that I wanted, and I thought they would help me win, and in fact, they helped me lose. So thanks a lot guys...I felt like I was getting sabotaged."
This proves that not every great chef is meant to lead a brigade. A leader inspires,
motivates, and nurtures. He takes personal responsibility for the successes and failures of his team. Many chefs in Hell's Kitchen have won despite a troubling past, physical impediments, and a lackluster team, so Russell has nobody to blame but himself for his loss.
Russell is similar to NBA players such as Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony. They're great individual players who never made anyone better. This is in stark contrast to the likes of Magic Johnson and Jason Kidd, who elevated their teammates and made it easier for them to excel and be more productive.
Russell could maybe excel as an individual chef but not as a head chef. It is all about him in his head. He does not care about the members of his team and he thinks he is superior to them. He is very talented as evidenced with a score of 100 on the first individual challenge in episode 11. But as seen with his poor showing in the final challenge, he does not have what it takes to take people to the promised land.
Barbie Marshall may be a catering chef from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but there is certainly no brotherly love between her and her fellow Hell's Kitchen contestants. Barbie is very aggressive and means business. She does not care whose toes she steps on to get to the very top. Barbie had to be tough as she had to raise four kids without her husband, who was murdered a decade ago. She has also had to beat race and gender discrimination to get to where she is today. This has made Barbie very tough and this tends to rub people the wrong way.
Barbie was not your typical little girl. Early in her life, she watched Julia Child and Graham Kerr instead of watching the typical Saturday morning cartoon lineup. She learned to prepare dinner for the family at a young age and even worked for her father's catering business as a teenager. She studied the culinary arts at Johnson and Wales University in the Hampton Roads. After graduation, she had taken her talents to restaurants such as the Smokehouse & Cooler, Cuisine & Company, Cobalt Grille, and Todd Jurich’s Bistro.
With such a strong foundation and culinary background, it is no wonder that Barbie had such a strong showing in season 10 of Hell's Kitchen. She had a black jacket and finished in the final four. Despite four elimination attempts, Barbie was one tough cookie and lasted until the very end. Despite her frequent clashes with her teammates, Chef Ramsey was impressed with her continuous improvement throughout the contest.
Barbie returned in the all-star edition of Hell's Kitchen and picked up where she left off. She had once again caught the ire of her fellow competitors as well as television audiences. I'm sure that everyone would simply wish that this Barbie would return to her dream house.
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© 2017 Jan Michael Ong