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A Rare Taste Of Real Life On “Hell’s Kitchen”

Chefs Josh Trovato (let) and Milly Medley (center) enjoy watching Hell’s Kitchen Episode 5 with members of the press. Photo Credit: Groundpunk Productions.

By: Marjorie Galas

Jean Philippe Susilovi makes one mean pizza. Known as Chef Gordon Ramsay’s maitre d’ on the hit television cooking completion series “Hell’s Kitchen” the native Italian partnered with DeSan’s Pizza Bakery’s Marino Monferrato to celebrate the 14th season of “Hell’s Kitchen” with the finest pies in Los Angeles.

“True crust tastes great because it is simple,” explained Susilovic. “There is no honey or rosemary; it’s just water, flour and basic ingredients made just the right way.”

Susilovi met the challenge of bringing a steady supply of slices to the hungry press members attending a special viewing of “Hell’s Kitchen, Episode 5”. Joining the feast were contestants Josh Trovato and Milly Medley. The evening served as a reunion for the two men who battled against each other nearly two years ago when season 14 was shot. The “Hell’s Kitchen” crew shoots two seasons back to back, a method that has proven effective for scheduling purposes over the years.

Medley and Trovato had not seen any of the completed footage. Reliving the experience together brought back a flood of memories. As fellow contestants appeared on the screen, they’d remark “I really miss that guy” or “Hearing her voice still makes my skin crawl.” While the competition offered plenty of hardships, the dorm life amounted to “summer camp” where new friendships and experiences were forged.

The featured competition in episode five required the two opposing teams, blue (men) and red (women), to make randomly selected dishes highlighting international cheeses. Medley not only had to push past his dislike for cheese, but also had to quickly become familiar with his required dish: enchiladas.

“I’m from Philly. I didn’t grow up eating Mexican food,” said Medley. “It’s really tough to do those competitions when you’ve never  had what it is you have to make.”

Off camera, Medley relied on his teammates to help him construct an enchilada. When a chef is unfamiliar with a particular dish, technique or food, they depend upon the generosity of their teammates to quickly educate them. Cookbooks, online research or any other outside research is not allowed during the competition. All dishes prepared on the show are created through the chef’s experience, familiarity and skill, a point in the competition that truly allows the cream to rise to the top.

“We don’t even have thermometers, we just have to rely upon what we know is correct,” said Trovato. “If you don’t know, you better start asking around quickly. As the season goes on, you’re less likely to find help.”

After winning the cheese challenge, the women spent a day speed boating in Marina Del Ray. The men’s team punishment was cutting and grating a forty pound wheel of parmesan cheese; a four hour long task. While both chefs stated the work was extremely strenuous, Trivato admitted he did a bit of sampling throughout the chore. “It was great cheese, so of course I just had to!”

Each episode concludes with a dining service challenge that leads to an elimination round. Invited guests fill the Hell’s Kitchen dining room, hoping to enjoy exquisite meals prepared by the competing chefs. However, if Chef Ramsay becomes enraged by poor performances and dismisses a group prior to their completed service, some patrons leave with empty bellies.

The main goal of the dinning service competition is to illustrate teamwork, leadership and culinary expertise. Although many of the chefs competing have professional experiences in large kitchens, each contestant has anxiety about fueling Ramsay’s fire. His temper tantrums are not just an act for the cameras.

“I’ve never met anyone with a temper like his. We were all afraid of it,” said Trovato.

Added Medley, “One time he got so mad, he threw a scallop down and it shot all the way across the room. His temper is no joke.”

Medley and Trovato both enjoyed seeing themselves in action and their interview snippets that made the cut. The editing process was  extremely interesting to them. Not only did it make activities, such as their cheese grating chore, seem like simple tasks, but it didn’t fully reflect the perseverance each battling chef must endure.

“If it look easy, it was hard. If it looks hard, it was three times harder,” said Trovato.

At the end of the episode, the two chefs felt nostalgic. While the competition was often mentally, emotionally and physically grueling they gained valuable skills that have helped them personally and professionally. The only thing that was less than satisfactory during their duration in the dorm was their personal menus.

“The night we had to eat all that salmon as punishment for overcooking it, I was pretty happy actually, because I was so hungry,” said Trovano. Added Medley, “All I had all day was some hot dogs and Mountain Dew. I was sick of hot dogs.”

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