A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this competitive reality show features a foul-mouthed chef who regularly insults and humiliates the contestants. Those who remain calm under pressure and work through the pain of insults, cuts, and burns are rewarded with an occasional compliment from the raging chef. When out of the kitchen, the contestants drink, smoke, and linger in the hot tub wearing revealing attire.
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What's the story?
In HELL'S KITCHEN, 12 aspiring chefs on two teams compete against each other in a restaurant kitchen while top chef Gordon Ramsay hurls vitriolic insults at them. The winning contestant will become the executive chef at a very upscale restaurant, so the stakes are high. After each evening of service, Ramsay chooses one of the two teams as the loser, and one person from that team must select two teammates for possible elimination. Ramsay then chooses which of those two unlucky nominees goes home -- a step obviously designed to provoke tension and resentment among the contestants, who live together in dorms connected to the kitchen.
Is it any good?
Ramsay's British restaurants are top-tier, and he has expectations to match -- outside of the kitchen he's a nice guy, but inside he's brutal. Those who've worked in professional kitchens know that his intense demeanor isn't unusual for chefs under stress, but he surely plays it up for the cameras. Ramsay rages at every mistake, calls the cooks names, and sends back plate after plate of attempted dishes. Some nights the kitchen turns out zero entrees, despite being open for hours.
But if you can handle Ramsay's rudeness and the annoying reality-show elements (constant replaying of key moments, odd editing, and overly dramatic music), the action is nail-bitingly delicious. Many of the competitors have professional cooking experience, with a few exceptions, but even the tenured folks have a hard time acclimating to such intense circumstances -- tears of frustration, explosions of temper, thrown plates, and more emotional moments season the action. The contestants work as hard as they possibly can to impress the chef and turn out edible food, but in order to succeed, they must work together, stay calm, and avoid the wrath of Ramsay -- never an easy task. By watching Hell's Kitchen, teens with any illusions about celebrity chefdom will get a glimpse into the harsh realities of the professional kitchen.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about work environments. What makes a good or bad boss? What drives employees to succeed -- gentle support or the desire to impress an exacting leader?
How would teens react to a boss like Ramsay? How have adults managed a difficult employer? Do different working environments call for different types of leadership?
What parallels can teens draw between tough bosses and tough teachers?
Does the world of professional cooking appeal to teens or parents?
For kids who love cooking and food
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