By Vanessa Rupertus

Elm Staff Writer

Chef Gordon Ramsay is back with his popular cooking competition, “Hell’s Kitchen,” for its 18th season.

Dubbed the “Rookies vs. Veterans” season, Ramsay brought in fresh faces as well as previous competitors looking for one more chance to rise above the rest.

The prize is the coveted Executive Chef position at Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant, also named Hell’s Kitchen, at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

In the first four episodes, the season has already revealed many new twists, such as the introduction of a Punishment Pass.

The pass is presented to the chef who can come up with the best new risotto recipe for the menu.

If on a losing team, a chef can use the pass to avoid the punishment for the week.

Veteran competitor Bret Hauser, who left four seasons previously due to injury, returned to win the pass with his tomato seafood risotto.

So far, however, the rookies have dominated the veterans in the challenges.

They’ve received three luxurious rewards, such as dining at Charcoal in Venus Beach with Ramsay and Executive Chef Josiah Citrin, creating a short western movie in which the team also starred, and relaxing at L’Horizon Resort in Palm Springs.

After the elimination of rookie chef Scott Popovic in the second episode, the third episode, “Hell’s Riders,” heated up quickly during dinner service.

Veteran Jennifer Gavin crumbled under pressure at the garnish station and accused Ramsay of sabotaging her, resulting in her swift dismissal from Hell’s Kitchen.

The Veterans bounced back after her abrupt departure, and Ramsay spared both teams from the voting process after the heated confrontation.

The latest episode, “Hell Freezes Over,” shook things up yet again at the very end of the episode.

After both teams had some fun in the snow and struggled through a disastrous dinner service, Ramsay gave the audience quite the shock.

He seemed to put veterans Kevin Cottle, season six’s runner up, and Trevor “Trev” McGrath, fourth place on the eighth season, on the chopping block for elimination, as well as Rookies Elizabeth “Gizzy” Barton and Chris Mendoca.

Instead of eliminating a chef, however, Ramsay ordered Kevin, Trev, and Gizzy to take off their jackets and join the opposing team.

He continued to switch the rookies and veterans until the audience realized Ramsay was reorganizing the teams into men versus women.

This sudden decision brought a definitive end to the season’s rookies versus veterans rivalry.

After an unfriendly goodbye from Ramsay, he declared, “Rookies, veterans… the only title I really care about is Executive Chef. It’s time to see who will lead and who will fall.”

Viewers can only wait and see what kind of havoc the new development will wreak in the next episode, “Fish Out of Water.”

The Elm

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