So, along with a new season of Solitary, there's also a new season of Hell's Kitchen which I'm watching right now. It might not be common knowledge, but it turns out that despite the fact that there have been 7 previous seasons of Hell's Kitchen, very few of the winners have actually received the advertised reward. For those who don't know, the idea behind Hell's Kitchen is that it's a cooking competition hosted by Gordan Ramsay, a world-famous michellin-star chef, with the winner of each season winning the right to become the head/executive chef of some fancy 4-star restaurant for a year with an annual salary of $250,000. The restaurants featured have all been incredibly high-brow establishments, located in various food capitals of the US (as well as one in Canada and another in London). Much ado is made of this opportunity and the contestants often talk repeatedly about how they will earn the head chef role once they win. Despite that, the advertising hasn't met the reality.
It's not a surprise if you think about it. The fact is that few if any of these contestants have the skills, ability, and knowledge to actually meet the standards of these restaurants, much less thrive. An analogy would be to have med students compete to see who the best is and then have that person become head of neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins. It makes for good tv, but only a madman would actually let any of these bozos actually near a scalpel or a head chef position. I know that Gordan Ramsay must be complicit in this, but it's hard not to feel bad for the guy since it's clear that the producers of the show try to push this envelope by finding him the biggest crew of misfits and fuckups to compete. After all, it brings ratings when the audience is snickering at home at the idea of some line cook at a sloppy joe and burger joint actually becoming the head chef at a world-class restaurant where a single meal costs more than the monthly foodbill for a family of 4. Ramsay might winnow down the field so that the last person standing isn't completely incompetent, but it's clear that they will never, ever, ever have the skills to fill the position. It would be insanity if not outright financial suicide to actually place the person there.
Really, from a chef's standpoint, believing that you would become head chef upon winning is just delusion to begin with. These locations are so prestigious that even getting the chance to just be one of the lowly line cooks would be a hell of an experience and would make more sense. Win the season and win an internship at one of these world famous establishments for a year along with the prize money. That would in itself be a prize that's worth an almost incalculable amount to someone's career, but it wouldn't make for as good a narrative. I can't help but wonder if this is just a symptom of a screwed up American value system which places such emphasis on the idea of some hard-working everyman who manages to win the lottery and rise immediately to the top.
Sadly, this seems to be getting worse from season to season, as each batch of wannabes are more incompetent than the last and it should be clear to anyone that the winner has nowhere near the qualifications necessary to really claim the prize. Of course, this is made worse by the fact that the winners seem to also get more delusional as the years go on, pumped up by ridiculous and unjustified levels of self-esteem, no doubt influenced by the self-esteem movement in our education and parenting system over the past few decades. These people don't even realize what a joke they've become, and last season's winner, Holli Ugalde, surely qualifies.
London's Savoy hotel reopens but without Hell's Kitchen winner Holli Ugalde
That said, I still think it's sort of sad that they really believe they are good enough to step into these positions and what disappointment they must feel when they at last realize that it isn't coming. I guess the cultural belief that you really can get something for nothing sort of lulls them into the fantasy-land idea that it could really all be true.