Hell's Kitchen (U.S. season 5)

Hell's Kitchen (U.S. season 5)


Season 5 of the American competitive reality television series Hell's Kitchen began airing on the Fox Network starting on January 29, 2009. The season concluded on May 14, 2009.

Executive Chef Daniel Veltri won the series and was awarded a sous chef position under Stephen Kalt at Italian restaurant Fornelletto at the Borgata in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Danny also received $250,000 in prize money from the show.[1]

Chef and staff members


16 chefs competed in Season 5, and were initially separated into the Blue team and Red team by gender. The chefs were:

Contestant Age Occupation Hometown
Coi Burruss 22 Cafe Chef Austin, Texas
Ji-Hyun "Ji" Cha 33 Private Caterer Palisades Park, New Jersey
Colleen Cleek 41 Culinary Instructor Papillion, Nebraska
Lacey D'Angelo 24 Corporate Buffet Cook Charlotte, North Carolina
Paula Dasilva 28 Executive Sous Chef Coconut Creek, Florida
Giovanni Filipponi 37 Executive Chef Destin, Florida
Andrea Heinly 30 Line Cook Reading, Pennsylvania
Robert Hesse 29 Sous Chef Quogue, New York
Wil Kocol 28 Quality Control Chef Elgin, Illinois
Seth Levine 27 Private Party Chef New York, New York
Alicia "LA" Limtiaco 22 Line Cook Las Vegas, Nevada
Jason "J" Maxwell 32 Food Court Chef Clifton Park, New York
Charlie McKay 24 Prep Chef Las Vegas, Nevada
Carol Scott 30 Sous Chef Knoxville, Tennessee
Danny Veltri 23 Executive Chef Edgewater, Florida
Ben Walanka 26 Executive Sous Chef Chicago, Illinois

Credit order: Carol, J, Colleen, Giovanni, Ji, Wil, Paula, Ben, Lacey, Danny, Coi, Charlie, Andrea, Seth, LA, Robert.

Contestant progress

Each week, the best member (as determined by Ramsay) from the losing team during the latest service period is asked to nominate two of their fellow teammates for elimination; one of these two is meant to be sent home by Ramsay. On some weeks, there is a variation in the nomination process, depending on the losing team's (or even winning team's) performance.

# Chef 501 502 503 504 505 506 507 508 509 510 511 512 513 514/515
14 Charlie LOSE WIN OUT
16 Wil OUT

     Contestant was nominated for elimination but prevailed
     Contestant was nominated for elimination by Chef Ramsay
     Contestant was eliminated
     Contestant voluntarily left the competition
     The winner of Hell's Kitchen


Each episode consists of a challenge with a reward, a service, nominations for elimination, and an elimination.

Episode 1

  • Original airdate: January 29, 2009
  • Episode recap: Hell's Kitchen - Episode 501, "16 Chefs Compete" (Fox.com)
  • Signature Dishes: Compared to all of the previous seasons, where Ramsay would find little praise in contestants' signature dishes, a surprising number of dishes were acceptable this season, with only some low marks for presentation. Chef Ramsay declared, "Based on your signature dishes, you are the best group we've ever had, so I'm expecting the best opening night ever." The women establish themselves as the team to beat with high marks going to Carol, Ji, Andrea, Coi and Paula. Among the men, only Ben received high marks ("by far, the best dish on the men's team, clearly") although Wil's dish was deemed delicious but presented poorly and Robert's bass being cooked nicely but served with a sauce that Ramsay found disgusting ("the dish is clumsy - like you.") Among the low points were Colleen's chicken enchiladas; during the tasting of her dish it was revealed that Colleen had no formal training despite charging customers $300 for each 3-4 hour period of instruction (this fact would be mocked many times during Ramsay's criticisms of Colleen as the season goes on). After further having her dish insulted, Colleen replied, "I teach manners too, Chef," to which Ramsay replied, "Ok please, Miss Manners, (bleep) off back in line." In addition, Seth laughed after Ramsay called Seth's honey-flavored ratatouille the worst dish he'd ever tasted, causing Ramsay to say "Fifteen years to make that (bleep), and you're laughing. You could make history in being the fastest exit in Hell's Kitchen, and I'm f***ing serious." One additional memorable point was Wil's revelation that his pride pin was a symbol of his pride in being openly gay. Chef Ramsay ended the challenge by instructing the teams to go to their dorms and come up with a team name.
  • Teams:
Spice Racks (female Red team)
Blues Brothers (male Blue team)
  • Service: During preparation, Lacey found prepping her fish station extremely difficult and gave up to have a smoke in the patio. She eventually came back and continued with her station. On the men's side, Seth proved to be unpopular, especially with Giovanni, for not paying attention and not being productive all morning. Five minutes before service, Chef Ramsay gathered the teams to get their team names and volunteers to be waiters. The women initially suggested 'Team Saffron' but after several of the team members revealed their dissatisfaction, the name was changed to 'Spice Racks.' Chef Ramsay liked the men's team name, "Blues Brothers." Carol and Giovanni were both chosen to be waiters, to their chagrin. Before service, Chef Ramsay ordered Charlie to go upstairs and trim his long beard hair, saying, "I don't want a complaint about a 12-inch ginger pubic hair in someone's crème brûlée." Carol did well as a waitress, while Giovanni struggled such as he didn't remember which customers ordered which food. After the meeting, Coi began arguing with Lacey for not having her station prepped to the point that Ramsay had to break up the fight. Power failed partway through the appetizers. After 20 minutes, power was restored, and the men began to release entrees. Colleen cooked way too much wasted spaghetti, tried to start a dish using a dirty pan and accidentally put sugar in a risotto. Ramsay said it was the worst risotto he's ever tasted in his cooking career. Robert also interrupted Ramsay while calling out a ticket and Ramsay forced Robert to read the ticket himself. Robert and Ben also had trouble cooking spaghetti, Danny also got an earful after talking back to Ramsay, because of raw fish that Danny thought was cooked. Seth had trouble getting the meat out, and was called "Forrest" (as in Forrest Gump) by Ramsay. Almost everyone on the blue team helped Wil with the garnish. (Ramsay: "Charlie's on the garnish, Robert's on the garnish, and Wil's on planet cuckoo.") After stalling several times, dinner service ended after the customers began to leave. Only the men served any entrees.
  • Nominees for elimination: Wil and Seth, Seth thought Giovanni should be nominated because of his poor waiter service.
  • Winner: No winner; the service never went beyond the initial entrees. The men were declared the losers after 90% of customers rated Giovanni's waiting service below average, and customers rated Carol's waiting service 88% above average.
  • Elimination: Wil nominated himself, and the rest of the men nominated Seth. After arguing their positions, Wil was eliminated. Ramsay commented that Wil lacked the heart to continue.
  • Chef Ramsay's Reason: "I found it quite strange that Wil didn't even have the will to succeed. He clearly did not belong in Hell's Kitchen."

Episode 2

  • Original airdate: February 5, 2009
  • Episode recap: Hell's Kitchen - Episode 502, "15 Chefs Compete" (Fox.com)
  • Preliminaries: Following the previous service, a marching band awoke the contestants early in the morning and greeted with garbage bags containing food that they wasted. Unlike the last season, they will instead fish scallops out of big crates, and take the scallops to the kitchen, where they would be used for the day's team challenge—shuck the scallops without leaving any cuts in the meat. The red team were did well by getting 35 scallops, the blue team got 35 scallops after strong performances from Giovanni and Danny, but J was still left. The blue team won the challenge in a dramatic finish with J managing to have the last of six scallops be deemed good by Ramsay after a 0-for-5 start. They won by one piece—36 pieces to the red team's 35.
  • Award / Punishment: The men take a helicopter ride to Catalina Island; Robert, however, was forced to take a ferry due to his weight. To his further misfortune, when Robert arrived at Catalina Island, it was time to head back. While on a submarine ride, Seth demonstrated a level of knowledge of Gordon's personal life, to a point that had gotten Gordon to (jokingly) believe that Seth was stalking him. Meanwhile, the women stayed back to prepare a raw bar for the night's service. Following an argument between Lacey and the rest of the red team, who blamed her for the defeat (even though Paula actually had the worst performance in the challenge), Lacey stayed in bed for most of the day eating Hot Pockets, and didn't show up until a couple of hours before service.
  • Service: During preparation, Ji had sprained her ankle and she was in doubt to be able to take part in dinner service, but announced to Chef Ramsay that she would. Carol and Charlie both struggled with risotto, but Ben was able to bail Charlie out with a good one. Charlie was in hot water again, when he and Seth forget to put the lobster in the lobster spaghetti. Danny impressed Ramsay with his lamb, but Giovanni didn't impress him when he brought a bad salmon up to pass and almost lost his cool when Ramsay was yelling at him too close to his face. Colleen was horrid on the fish station, leading Ramsay to assign Lacey to help her, but after continual mistakes, Colleen was reassigned to the raw bar. To make things interesting, Chef Ramsay declared the team to complete their service first to be the winner. Carol slowed the Red team at the end because she needed more time on a dish that was everyone else was ready for. Despite the setbacks, both teams would complete their service.
  • Winner: The blue team won, for completing their service first. The red team had one table to go when blue won.
  • Nominees for elimination: Colleen and Lacey were nominated for elimination. In a deleted scene shown on the DVD release of the season, the other women attempted to persuade Carol to nominate herself in place of Colleen, hoping to ensure that Lacey was eliminated (despite regarding Colleen as their worst cook, the women much preferred her personality to that of Lacey), but Carol refused on the grounds that it could result in her own elimination for messing up at the end of service and costing the women victory.
  • Elimination: After Colleen and Lacey stepped forward, Ji announced to chef Ramsay that she wished to leave the competition. She admirably completed service despite sustaining a sprained ankle from the raw bar preparation. Andrea asked Chef Ramsay to turn down the request and eliminate Colleen or Lacey on the grounds that even with her injury Ji was still far more effective than those two, but Ramsay honored her wishes and allowed her to leave, saying that she had been phenomenal and letting her keep her jacket, as a token of her bravery. Colleen and Lacey were spared, to the apparent chagrin of the Red Team. As Andrea helped the wheelchair-bound Ji out of Hell's Kitchen, the Blue Team all rose and gave Ji a farewell standing ovation for her gritty performance. Ramsay then called on all those remaining to draw from Ji's perseverance, who Ramsay said demonstrated "courage at its best". As shown in Episode 3, the red team then returned to the dorms furious that Lacey survived another day. They then threatened Lacey that she had better prove herself why she should stay in competition.
  • Chef Ramsay's Reason: "Ji showed great courage. Unfortunately, her injury got in the way of her dream. She had a chance to win this, but sadly we will never, ever know." (Unlike Vanessa from season four where she got her full elimination sequence despite withdrawing from the competition due to an injury, Ji got her picture burned instead of the coat hook and burning picture sequence.)

Episode 3

  • Original airdate: February 19, 2009
  • Episode recap: "Hell's Kitchen - Episode 503, 14 Chefs Compete" (Fox.com)
  • Preliminaries: Both teams were awakened at 6AM by Chef Scott, who takes them on a field trip to a meat rendering plant, where he shows the contestants how the meat is cut and where the cuts come from. Back at the kitchen, Chef Ramsay gives the contestants a challenge—match the names of the cuts of meat with the cuts themselves, then place the names of the cuts on a cow, in the area where the cuts came from. J and Colleen got their teams off to good starts by both getting 5 out of 8 right on the cow, but then Seth and Lacey completely scrambled the labels on their turns, effectively forcing both teams to start over. Eventually, Ben successfully identified all of the cuts correctly, winning the challenge for the blue team (Paula also got all the cuts right for the red team, but was beaten to it by Ben).
  • Award / Punishment: The blue team flew to the Sunstone Winery in Santa Ynez, California, where they have a wine tasting, followed by a steak dinner. The red team stay behind to make cuts of meat out of two large sides of beef, requiring the entire team to carry each side into the kitchen. Furthermore, for lunch, Chef Scott treats them to a lunch, consisting of cow's tongue and offal, leading Andrea to vomit and then cry, and LA to vomit, claiming this was caused by Andrea. Andrea, clearly traumatised by the eating section of the punishment, made the red team promise to bond together and try harder. The red team, especially Coi, promised they would not have to face another punishment.
  • Service: Tonight's service is a split "steakhouse" service, split into two two-hour seatings—one team cooks while the other serves, and vice versa. During the first seating, Giovanni sent out undercooked steak and Ben prepared dessert before the appetizers; Seth also overcut filet mignon, wasting a great deal of the meat making the cut. Charlie struggled to keep up on the fish station and accidentally set his cooking cloth on fire. During the second seating the red team got off to a slow start, with Coi and Colleen losing track of the appetizers, but things ran much smoother on the entrees, as Andrea did not get a single steak rejected by Chef Ramsay. Some of the steaks got returned to the kitchen, but Ramsay thought they were all cooked correctly and accused the men of deliberately writing incorrect tickets so as to try and sabotage the women. In the end, the red team's problems on the appetizers counted against them, and they fell just short of completing service.
  • Winner: The red team were named the winners, as they were three tables away from completing their service. The blue team, on the other hand, served barely half of their entrées. Andrea was named as the best overall cook for her near-flawless performance on the red team's meat station, while Charlie and Lacey were deemed to be the worst waiters (Lacey wrote some orders down incorrectly and forgot to hand in one altogether, while Charlie was clumsy and could not remember which tables he had taken the orders for).
  • Nominees for elimination: Though Seth was planning his strategy to put Giovanni up for elimination, Seth and Charlie were eventually nominated. When the nominations were being read out, Seth attempted to imply that J (who Chef Ramsay had asked for the team's nominations) was not being truthful in nominating him, but Ramsay told Seth to shut up and step forward.
  • Elimination: Charlie was chosen by Chef Ramsay to leave Hell's Kitchen. Ramsay stated he didn't think Charlie was head chef material.
  • Chef Ramsay's Reason: "Charlie is a prep chef, but I'm looking for a head chef. He seems like a nice guy but you know where nice guys finish."

Episode 4

  • Original airdate: February 26, 2009
  • Episode recap: "Hell's Kitchen - Episode 504, 13 Chefs Compete" (Fox.com)
  • Challenge: Both teams cook a special breakfast service for a group of 100 young football kids and cheerleaders; the first team to successfully serve everyone in their half of the group wins. Colleen was distracted the cheerleaders, leaving the hash browns unattended, leaving Ramsay to get her back on the station. Coi had trouble cooking pancakes, burning several of them. The blue team had an early lead but fell behind by the end because Seth was sluggish with cooking scrambled eggs as he was trying to make them perfect. The red team won, leaving the team furious at Seth. After losing the challenge, Ben and Danny from the blue team got into a fight due to Danny having claimed to be the strongest cook on the blue team prior to the challenge; Ben believed himself to be the strongest cook, and told Danny that he "couldn't cook his cock."
  • Award / Punishment: The red team goes "camping" for the day at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. The blue team cleans up the dining room and the entire kitchen, as well as prep both teams for that night's service. The blue team failed to finish prepping the red team's side by the start of service, mostly due to Danny and Robert plotting to get Ben out.
  • Service: In a standard service, the red team was missing its tomato butter sauce, which was supposed to have been made during the blue team's prep; on that account, Chef Ramsay suspected sabotage, and his suspicions were only furthered when the sauce that Ben gave them was far too salty, leading to Danny having to cook a new batch. Giovanni was behind on boiling the water for spaghetti and Seth overcooked some scallops. Coi pre-makes spaghetti instead of cooking it to order. Colleen makes one beef wellington too many. A butt of a head of lettuce was found in someone's caesar salad prepared by J. Seth didn't listen to what orders were called and the he wiped a pan off with a dirty rag after wiping his face with it. Ben cut the lamb too thinly. Danny wouldn't reply to Chef Ramsay on the garnish station. In addition, almost every appetizer and entree was returned. With Chef Ramsay's temper reaching the boiling point, he closed the kitchen and declared the service a total and complete failure. In addition, he ordered all team members back to the dorms immediately to decide which two team members from each team should leave Hell's Kitchen. All this was done in front of the customers, without the usual post-mortem.
  • Winner: No winners; not even a Best of Worst.
  • Nominees for elimination: The blue team nominated Ben on the grounds of the earlier fight and his poor performance on the meat station, along with Seth for his continued mistakes. On the red team, Colleen was easily nominated for yet another poor service, and Coi said that she should be the second nominee. However, the other women were still not willing to forgive Lacey for walking out of the first two prep sessions and, despite her otherwise flawless performance in this service, put her up for elimination.
  • Elimination: Though Ramsay made mention of the "lettuce butt" mistake as "how reputations get destroyed in minutes", Seth was chosen to leave Hell's Kitchen due to his lack of progress. Ben was called down first, but sent back to the blue team.
  • Chef Ramsay's Reason: "Seth showed that he had all the passion in the world, but the bottom line is he's a crap cook."
  • Team Change: Effective next episode, Lacey will participate in the blue team.

Episode 5

  • Original airdate: March 5, 2009
  • Episode recap: "Hell's Kitchen - Episode 505, 12 Chefs Compete" (Fox.com)
  • Challenge: Both teams visit an Asian supermarket, where they purchase the ingredients needed for "Asian fusion" dishes. The ingredients must consist of one seafood, one poultry, and one meat. Each team has only 25 minutes to shop and $100 to spend. Both teams got what they needed, within budget. Upon returning to Hell's Kitchen, they have one hour to cook their dishes. Each dish will be judged by Chef Ramsay and Tanya Steel, the editor in chief of "Epicurious". The red team won, as they had two dishes chosen to the blue team's one.
  • Award / Punishment: The dishes chosen by Chef Ramsay and Ms. Steel were featured at Epicurious' web site. In addition, the red team spent the day sumo wrestling (wearing oversized sumo suits), and imbibing on sake. The blue team make fortune cookies and origami for that night's service. Lacey, who was once seen as a pariah on the blue team, saved the day when she shows her teammates how to fold origami.
  • Service: In this service, the night's patrons include a group of sumo wrestlers, who each orders everything on the menu, bringing an extra challenge to the service. Despite a great start on the appetizers from Giovanni and LA, however, it went downhill from there — Andrea was caught hiding burned beef Wellingtons, so that Chef Ramsay wouldn't see them, while J's own beef Wellingtons were undercooked, as the oven fan was on low. In addition, Robert wasted a lot of food in making his dish; he made Chef Ramsay even angrier by not responding to him when he called Robert "Bobby" and so, in an interview, he showed his ass saying "Chef Ramsay! Kiss my AAAAAAASSS! That's what I'm saying to him". And, on top of all that, Colleen's pear dessert was returned because both the pear and the pastry were rock-hard and raw. All was a lost cause, and the kitchen was closed. In a private meeting with Chef Ramsay following the service, Robert explained that he did not respond to "Bobby" because that happened to be the name of his abusive father, and that it bought back painful memories from his childhood. Chef Ramsay then told Robert that he will respect Robert's wishes, adding that if Chef Ramsay knew about it earlier, this wouldn't have happened.
  • Winner: No winners; Giovanni and LA were selected as the Best of Worst for their teams. Each of them will choose a person for elimination.
  • Nominees for elimination: Giovanni chose J; LA chose Andrea. Chef Ramsay appeared to disagree with Giovanni's decision to nominate J, heavily implying that he thought Robert should have been nominated, but accepted the two nominees.
  • Elimination: Instead of eliminating J or Andrea, he told them to go back to the line. He then addressed Robert and told him to wake up. Finally, he summoned Colleen and told her to leave Hell's Kitchen, saying "You've had five dinner services. And all five of them have been shocking." as he could no longer tolerate her mistakes. Ironically, as Colleen was leaving, Chef Ramsay complimented her on her tenacity and told the remaining contestants to follow her example.
  • Chef Ramsay's Reason: "There was no place in the kitchen I could put Colleen where she wasn't a disaster. It's time for her to go back to where she belongs—teaching—because she certainly can't cook."

Episode 6

  • Original Airdate: March 12, 2009
  • Episode recap: "Hell's Kitchen - Episode 506, 11 Chefs Compete" (Fox.com)
  • Challenge: The chefs had to create gourmet versions of three dishes the guest of honor (Max) liked: chicken soup, brisket, and burger. Ben felt he had the advantage, as he was also Jewish. While the red team was preparing their dishes the team, led by Carol, began criticizing Andrea and constantly arguing with her, as they thought she was trying to lead while being one of the weakest members on the team. Giovanni won the soup challenge while LA won with the brisket. On the burger, Max liked both but went with Robert's burger because Carol's burger had blue cheese which he didn't like (the red team had warned Carol about using the blue cheese on the burger but she wouldn't listen).
  • Award / Punishment: The Blue Team was treated to a day at a spa. The losers had to set up for the Bar Mitzvah complete with a basketball court while Andrea and Carol argue about the loss. Francisco (from the wedding reception in season 3 and the birthday party in season 4) arrived again much to the chagrin of Jean Philippe.
  • Service: This service was the first one in Hell's Kitchen to be held for a Bar Mitzvah. The second part of the red team's punishment had them carry Max on a chair during the dance. Both teams struggled but were able to complete service. Andrea started off rough when she didn't have enough mushrooms in her risotto. However, Coi was terrible on the grill when she was in charge of preparing Max's burger, as she brings cold burger up to the pass. The Blue Team had little flaws during service except when Lacey couldn't keep up with her briskets and J forgetting to present a salad with no dressing. At the end, Chef Ramsay gave Max a surprise: The Harlem Globetrotters. During cleanup, Carol told Andrea that she wanted to punch her in the throat, which underscored the constant arguing and insults the two had shared during service.
  • Winner: The Blue Team for being more consistent during service. Andrea was chosen as best of the worst, much to the disgust of her team.
  • Nominees for elimination: While Andrea was deciding on her nominees, the rest of the red team got together and agreed that Andrea should not have been best of the worst and if picked, they would tell Chef Ramsay that Andrea was the weakest on the team. After struggling to come up with two nominees, Andrea selected LA and Coi. As according to plan, both nominees stated that Andrea was the worst on the team. Ramsay asked Carol who also said that Andrea was the worst. Paula said that Coi was the worst however, and Ramsay agreed with her at the end, eliminating Coi.
  • Chef Ramsay's Reason: "When this competition began, I thought Coi was gonna be a really strong chef. But tonight she was exposed, when she couldn't even cook a bloody burger."

Episode 7

  • Original Airdate: March 19, 2009
  • Episode recap: "Hell's Kitchen - Episode 507, 10 Chefs Compete" (Fox.com)
  • Team change: Shortly before the start of the challenge, Chef Ramsay transferred Giovanni to the red team.
  • Challenge: The chefs each have 20 minutes to make tapas, using leftovers from the previous service. Danny and Paula got a tie against each other (1-1) with delicious food, however LA and Lacey had disgusting dishes and none of them won that round (0-0). Robert beat Carol, while Andrea beat J. The last round was between Ben and the red team's new member Giovanni. Both their dishes were said to be delicious from Chef Ramsay; however, Giovanni made a great introduction to his new team by winning the round. The Red team won this challenge in a close race, 3 to 2. During the challenge, Giovanni took over leadership of the red team and was able to clamp down on some of the bickering between Carol and Andrea.
  • Award / Punishment: The red team go to Hollywood Park for a day of watching horse racing. The blue team stay behind to prep both teams' kitchens for that night's service, as well as bringing in small plates for tapas. Though the men were trying to help her, Lacey, both lazy and ineffectual, had quit on her team during kitchen prep, but was eventually talked back in by Ben.
  • Service: Before the service, J overcooked rice for both teams, turning it into mush, and forcing Chef Ramsay to take the risotto off of the menu for the night. Andrea and Carol were forced to eat a pasta dish, after Chef Ramsay said that the pasta was raw. LA became non-responsive for part of the service, and tried to cook too many John Dory at once; she also took offence to Ramsay calling her a "silly cow" while trying to get her to respond, and privately said that she would punch him in the face and quit the competition if he ever did it again. But the Red Team rallied together and finished the service strongly, thanks to Giovanni's leadership and Paula's strong performance on the meat station (in fact, one Beef Wellington that she had cooked was deemed by Ramsay as the best that had ever been served in Hell's Kitchen). The Blue Team eventually got their service back on track after their early problems caused by J, but Ben had a lot of trouble cooking the meat correctly, as he had done during the fourth service, and Chef Ramsay threatened to throw him out of the competition after he was caught trying to cook beef wellingtons on a dirty pan. Nevertheless, both teams completed service, although the Blue team took considerably longer than the Red team. After the service finished Carol and Andrea continued to argue, even after Giovanni and Paula tried to split them up.
  • Early Elimination Note: J committed several additional mistakes, including undercooking and then burning the salmon, and forgetting to bring up the sauce for the halibut. The final straw came when J bought up some severely overcooked scallops, and Chef Ramsay completely lost patience with J and threw him out of Hell's Kitchen altogether.
  • Winner: The Red Team for finishing service first, as well as being generally more consistent during service.
  • Nominees for elimination: Each member of the Blue Team must nominate who they think should leave Hell's Kitchen. The men nominated Lacey, while Lacey nominated Robert after an argument they had while in the dorms. While giving his nomination for Lacey, Robert mentioned about how she nearly walked out on the team during prep, and went into a heartfelt speech about how he would not accept quitters in his restaurant, which slightly startled Ramsay. Meanwhile, Danny also mentioned how Lacey nearly quit the team.
  • Elimination: Lacey and Ben were asked by Chef Ramsay to step forward. Chef Ramsay especially singled out Ben for nominating Lacey, as he felt Ben should have nominated himself, to which Ben admitted that he had been the weakest performer of the night (barring the already-eliminated J). But despite expressing a desire to have Ben's jacket, Chef Ramsay decided to give Ben and Lacey one more chance, and sent both of them back to their team, blaming the night's poor service on J, who had everyone struggling from the very beginning.
  • Chef Ramsay's Reason: "I kept Ben and Lacey because J put the kitchen in such a hole that they never stood a chance. They're very lucky that I sent J packing."

Episode 8

  • Original Airdate: March 26, 2009
  • Episode recap: "Hell's Kitchen - Episode 508, 9 Chefs Compete" (Fox.com)
  • Challenge: The palate taste test where a member from each team, wearing a blindfold and earphones to dull their senses, must identify different foods by taste. The red team wins 8 to 7. Both Carol and Ben equalled Elsie's (From Season 1) and Virginia's (Season 2) record of 3 out of 4 (Ben also became the first and, to date, only male chef to identify 3 items), while neither Robert nor Giovanni got a single point.
  • Award / Punishment: The red team is treated to a photo shoot for TV Guide magazine in Hell's Kitchen while the blue team has to prep both kitchens for tonight's service and prepare lunch and hors d'oeuvres for the red team.
  • Service / Early-Elimination: Two celebrities were in attendance, Eric McCormack (Will & Grace) and Robert Patrick (Terminator 2). The blue team started well, with Robert single-handedly keeping appetisers flowing out of their kitchen, even after he accidentally split open the seat of his trousers partway through. However, the team was stalled by Lacey's poor efforts on the meat section, which eventually led to Ramsay eliminating her while the service was in progress. Despite being a member down for the second week in succession, the blue team rallied and was able to complete the service with only three chefs. The red team on the other hand struggled for consistency throughout the service, with Carol and Andrea having poor communication and constantly cooking their dishes incorrectly, along with LA failing to listen to the orders and also serving cold, lumpy mashed potatoes. With the blue team having finished their service and the red team nowhere near completing theirs, Chef Ramsay lost his patience and shut the red kitchen down.
    • Early Elimination Note: Just as had been the case with Josh Wahler from the Season 3, Chef Ramsay merely threw her jacket aside after service before declaring the winning team in which the blue team won the service. In the previous episode, J did receive the full elimination sequence, presumably as he was the only competitor eliminated.
  • Winner: The Blue Team were named the winners, with Chef Ramsay praising the teamwork of the three remaining chefs, Ben, Danny and Robert.
  • Nominees for elimination: While everyone (including Carol) agreed that Carol was the worst on dinner service, they had conflicting ideas about who the second nominee should be. LA and Carol thought that Andrea should be the second nominee, while the others all thought that LA was the second weakest chef. Chef Ramsay was upset that they were unable to reach a consensus, and insisted that all three (LA, Carol and Andrea) step forward for elimination.
  • Elimination: Chef Ramsay called out Carol and then Andrea's names, but in a shock move he sent them both back in line and eliminated LA, who he felt had been a decent performer throughout the season, but had never truly excelled or shown any leadership qualities. However, he still had words for Carol and Andrea, warning them that they were both on their last chance.
  • Chef Ramsay's Reason:
    • Lacey: Due to her confusion on the meat station and incessant complaining, Lacey was thrown out mid-service. Chef Ramsay then told her, "Let's be honest, you're done. You can't waste my time any longer!" He also made Lacey say goodbye to the blue team before she left. (No reason was given for Lacey's elimination at the end of the episode, nor did she get the full elimination sequence of her jacket being hung up on a peg and her photo incinerating. However, at the start of episode 14 during a recap of the past episodes Lacey and LA's pictures were burned side-by-side and their jackets got hooked simultaneously.)
    • LA: "LA was a real workhorse in the kitchen. I kicked her out because she lacked two crucial skills to be a great chef – leadership and creativity."

Episode 9

  • Original Airdate: April 2, 2009
  • Episode recap: "Hell's Kitchen - Episode 509, 7 Chefs Compete" (Fox.com)
  • Challenge: The teams create individual dishes, featuring the main ingredient, red king crab; one dish from the team will be presented a specialty crab dish to Chef Ramsay. After Chef Ramsay rejects both dishes from Andrea and Ben, Danny and Paula present their crab dishes. The blue team triumphed over the red team.
  • Award / Punishment:The blue team was taken to Santa Monica State Beach, where they spent a day of fun at the beach and ate a lobster lunch at a seafood restaurant. The red team cleaned both of the teams dorms, and cooked all of the red king crabs for the following night's dinner service.
  • Service: For this service, the teams were requested to come up with their own menus for the night. Disaster struck through both teams during dinner service; from Ben's slaughtered Filet Mignon steaks, to Carol's undercooked potatoes both teams crumbled under pressure. Ben also got involved in an argument with Chef Ramsay, as Ben believed that the pommes fondant dish he added to the menu was supposed to made from boiled potatoes, whereas Ramsay (and Scott) told him that the potatoes were meant to be sautéed in butter. One restaurant guest tried taking matters into her own hands by taking her second unseasoned carpaccio dish up to Chef Ramsay, where then Chef Ramsay insults her back to her seat. Tension between Robert and Ben escalated during entrees and desserts, as Ben saw that Robert couldn't keep up with the speed of the kitchen. After Ramsay saw enough misery from both kitchens, he ordered to shut down the kitchens.
  • Winner: Although the red vs blue menu ended in disaster, Chef Ramsay decides on the winner based on the total amount of services for each team. The red team was declared the winning team even though Carol had a poor performance tonight with the potatoes.
  • Nominees for elimination: Danny was named Best of the Worst on the blue team and chose Ben for elimination. However, Ramsay felt Robert also had a bad service and put him on the chopping block as well.
  • Eliminated: Carol, despite being on the winning team. Like Ben, Carol insisted on putting a potato dish on the menu and was responsible for undercooking it multiple times. However, unlike Ben, Carol appeared to have given up and not fight back to redeem herself. Like Ben, Ramsay claimed Carol was sabotaging her team's efforts to win.
  • Chef Ramsay's Reason: "Carol knew she was out of her depth in Hell's Kitchen. I just put her out of her misery."

Episode 10

  • Original Airdate: April 9, 2009
  • Episode recap: "Hell's Kitchen - Episode 510, 6 Chefs Compete" (Fox.com)
  • United Team: Danny from the blue team and Paula from the red team were each told to choose who they thought was the weakest on their team. Paula chose Andrea and Danny chose Ben. Andrea and Ben were called and told to remove their jackets, thinking they were facing elimination, when in fact they were told that everyone would be competing as a single team.
  • Challenge: In the first individual challenge, each chef cooked a dish using 14 specific ingredients, including chicken, pasta and wine. While Chef Ramsay considered all dishes to be delicious, he singled out Ben and Danny's dishes, with Ben's being the best. Ben then was told to pick a friend to enjoy the reward. He chose Robert.
  • Award / Punishment: Ben takes a trip with Chef Ramsay and Robert to San Francisco, where they dine at the One Market restaurant, at the exclusive chef's table. The others spend the day taking deliveries. Giovanni ended up being fed up with the punishment, after breaking boxes of bottled water, and having to chase a seafood truck for being short two lobster, later to find out that the order was correct after all.
  • Service: Giovanni was accused of purposely cooking Ben's winning chicken dish poorly. Giovanni talked back to chef Ramsey. Later, Giovanni placed a hot pan in the refrigerator, to cool it down, only to cause Robert to burn his hand picking it up. Andrea was also thrown out of Hell's Kitchen for constantly not knowing what the orders are, but was brought back in after some encouragement from Jean-Philippe. Robert overcooked scallops and cooked bacon and John Dory in the same pan. Service ended prematurely after Ramsay walked out of the kitchen.
  • Winner: Paula was the strongest player of the night for her appetizers, and got the right to choose two players for elimination.
  • Nominees for elimination: Paula chose Giovanni and Andrea.
  • Elimination: Chef Ramsay ultimately chose Giovanni to leave Hell's Kitchen "for all the right reasons."
  • Chef Ramsay's Reason: There was no specific reason given for Giovanni's elimination, but his coat peg and burning photo close was featured in the recap at the beginning of episode 14.
  • Post-elimination Epilogue: At 2:14AM, Chef Ramsay called the remaining chefs to the kitchen, announcing that due to that night's service and his dissatisfaction with the final five, Hell's Kitchen is shutting down.

Episode 11

  • Original Airdate: April 16, 2009
  • Episode recap: "Hell's Kitchen - Episode 511, 5 Chefs Compete" (Fox.com)
  • Prologue: Ramsay did not permanently shut down Hell's Kitchen, as suggested in the previous episode. Instead, the contestants were flown to the Borgata Hotel and Casino for a multi-day trip to see their potential future place of employment. After touring the hotel, they sat down for dinner with the Borgata Hotel's vice president of cuisine. Robert left the table after a few minutes, complaining of chest pains; he was taken to the hospital for observation and tests.
  • Withdrawal: After a few days of waiting Robert returned to Hell's Kitchen. He reported that he has pericarditis and announced his departure from Hell's Kitchen because of his condition. After Robert says his final farewells to the final four, Chef Ramsay remarked that Robert had the possibility to win. "I just want to tell you, that you have been a fantastic competitor. You've had the potential to win this competition. Do not ever, ever forget that." Unlike Ji in Episode 2, Robert had to give back his jacket to Chef Ramsay. (Robert would return as a contestant in the following season. He was eliminated in the 7th episode, though participated in the final service.)
  • Challenge: After visiting Borgata each of the final four presented the signature dish that he or she would serve in their restaurant, should he or she win Hell's Kitchen. Chef was impressed by Danny, Paula, and Andrea's dishes and proclaimed Andrea the winner.
  • Award / Punishment: Andrea received one-time immunity from the next elimination. Additionally, unless there was a specific Best of the Best or Best of the Worst after the next service, she would get to decide on the nominees for elimination. No punishment was given. Ben, Danny, and Paula were upset that Andrea, who they constantly believe is outperformed, would last longer than one of them.
  • Service: Danny and Paula received only praise from Chef Ramsay, and Danny was eventually sent to help Andrea on fish. However Ben struggled with the garnish to the point where Ramsay sent him out of the kitchen. After a short break, Ben returned and finished with a strong performance. Andrea however failed on the fish station to the point where Ramsay almost took her safe spot away from her. Nonetheless, service was completed.
  • Winner: No winners were selected for dinner service. Because Chef Ramsay felt there was no Best of the Worst, Andrea automatically gained the nomination rights from her challenge win.
  • Nominees for elimination: Andrea nominated Ben and Paula. However, after hearing from Paula briefly, Ramsay immediately sent her back in line and called Andrea to step forward.
  • Elimination: No chef was eliminated after dinner service; Robert's photo was burned at the end of the episode, although his jacket was not placed on the hook.
  • Chef Ramsay's Reason: Chef Ramsay confirmed Andrea's immunity as a man of his word and kept Ben since Andrea had performed so poorly that Ben "never had a chance." He also noted that, had Andrea not won immunity, she would have been eliminated.

Episode 12

  • Original Airdate: April 23, 2009
  • Episode Recap: "Hell's Kitchen - Episode 512, 4 Chefs Compete" (Fox.com)
  • Challenge: To recreate one of Chef Ramsay's signature dishes based on taste alone. Danny was declared the winner, with Paula as a close second.
  • Award / Punishment: Danny went along with Chef Ramsay to go fly in separate biplanes. The other three chefs had to polish all the crystal, shampoo all the carpets and prepare for that night's service.
  • Service: To motivate the chefs before service, Ramsay gave each chef a set of his brand of stainless steel cookware in the dorms. Service was smooth for the most part, but Ben had trouble recognizing that Ramsay wanted a salad with nothing else on it, and kept putting croutons in. Ramsay even asked Sous Chef Scott Leibfried if "plain salad" meant something different in the US than in England. Scott assured him it was the same. All of a sudden, a man pulled Jean-Phillipe aside and requested a favor to him that he wanted to propose to his girlfriend. He gave the ring to Jean Phillipe, who then gave the ring to Chef Ramsay. The wedding ring was placed on a dessert with the words "Will you marry me?" written on the plate. A dome was placed over the dessert, and as soon as the dessert was delivered, the man proposed to his girlfriend, who could barely speak. The girl accepted, the restaurant broke out in applause and Ramsay presented the girl with a rose and congratulated the new couple personally. Service ran smoothly until the end when Andrea ran out of wellingtons because she miscounted them. This required Danny and Paula to find more wellingtons in the store room and preparing them from scratch taking an additional 15 minutes.
  • Winner: Ramsay was disappointed at the final 10% of service because "in a fine dining restaurant, it's not how we start, it's how we finish". He told the chefs to come up with one nominee for elimination.
  • Nominees for elimination: Andrea and Ben.
  • Elimination: Chef Ramsay tells Ben to leave Hell's Kitchen.
  • Chef Ramsay's Reason: Ramsay never gave a specific reason, but before Ben left, Chef gave him some encouraging words and told him that his attitude and hard work in Hell's Kitchen was outstanding, and also told him to keep all of those good qualities. Ben also got his full elimination sequence during the recap episode.

Episode 13

  • Original Airdate: April 30, 2009
  • Episode Recap: "Hell's Kitchen - Episode 513, 3 Chefs Compete" (Fox.com)
  • Prologue: Previously, Chef Ramsay announced that he would give a surprise to the remaining three contestants. This surprise was a visit from their parents, family members and significant others.
  • Challenge: Each chef has 90 minutes to create dishes for each of the 100 diners—all of them Los Angeles' best chefs. Each of the diners will also determine which dish was the best and which was the worst. 76% of the chefs polled determined Danny's to be the worst, while 76% thought Paula's was the best.
  • Award / Punishment: Paula gets a special makeover; the following morning, she and Chef Ramsay appear live on KTTV's Good Day L.A.. Andrea and Danny stay behind to thoroughly clean the dining area and do the laundry—as well as watch the Good Day L.A. segment.
  • Service: For this service, as with previous seasons, each chef takes turns at the pass, while Scott and Gloria purposely add errors to the dishes for them to spot. Each of them failed to spot the first error, but spotted the second. Paula and Danny each had weak starts in their performance, but improved. Andrea was rather strong during her time at the pass, including spotting various deficiencies and errors left and right—nit-picking to a point that sous chef Scott became extremely annoyed with her (even expressing a desire at one point to "punch [her] in the mouth"). Overall, there were no serious errors or returns, and the service was very successful. Chef Ramsay asked what was different about him later that night, and after a couple of panicky responses, Chef Ramsay pointed out that he was smiling for the first time that season. (Not counting, of course, his involvement in the rewards following the challenges.)
  • Nominees for elimination: Each contestant chose who should leave Hell's Kitchen. Danny and Paula chose Andrea; Andrea chose Danny. Paula was happy that she had not been selected by her fellow team mates for elimination but also remarked that she therefore would have the deciding vote.
  • Elimination: Chef Ramsay told Andrea to leave Hell's Kitchen, leaving Paula and Danny to advance to the final service.
  • Elimination: As with Lacey, Giovanni and Ben, Ramsay gave no reason for eliminating Andrea and praised her tenacity and skill as a chef, and told her that she would do well in her career. Andrea's coat hook and burning picture can be seen in the recap episode even though she did not receive her full elimination sequence after being eliminated in episode 13.

Episode 14

  • Original Airdate: May 7, 2009
  • Episode Recap: "Hell's Kitchen - Episode 514, 2 Chefs Compete" (Fox.com)
  • Setup: As with previous seasons, Hell's Kitchen will be split into two restaurants, with each contestant running their side and deciding the menu and decor. While Danny and Paula are away, their relatives will oversee construction—Danny's father and girlfriend for his restaurant; Paula's mother and sister for hers. Danny's restaurant will be called the "Susan Marie" (after his deceased mother), and will feature a seafood-menu and decor. One of Danny's ideas, mounted fish, wasn't well received by designer John Janavs and he feared the restaurant would be more like 'Bob's Bait Shop.' Paula's restaurant is called "Sunergy", whose decor includes candles on the wall; despite Paula insisting on using real candles, the fire marshal said real candles that close to the wall would be a violation of safety code so "electric" candles were used instead.
  • Challenge: Danny and Paula are flown back to the Borgata in Atlantic City, where they have 45 minutes to cook three dishes from the menus that they have created, with Borgata executives choosing the best dishes. All of this will be done within view of the Borgata's 500 employees, who will work under the winner. Danny won the challenge with two dish wins to Paula's one.
  • Award: Upon returning to Los Angeles, Danny will have first selection of six returning contestants, who will be the chefs under their command in their restaurants.
  • Teams: Contestants returning are Andrea, Ben, Carol, Giovanni, LA and Lacey (Robert couldn't return because of his illness, so Lacey came in his place and at the same time, Lacey was the last person to be eliminated prior to the final eight contestants). Danny has chosen Ben, Giovanni and Carol; Paula chose Andrea, LA, and was left with Lacey when Danny took Carol. This episode ended with a cliffhanger.

Episode 15

  • Original Airdate: May 14, 2009
  • Episode Recap: "Hell's Kitchen - Episode 515, Finale: 2 Chefs Compete" (Fox.com)
  • Pre-service: Each of the cooks working under Danny or Paula were briefed on what they would be doing for their particular restaurant. The finishing touches were given on the restaurants' decors (with Danny's restaurant being renamed "Velvet Hammer", his nickname from college). Chef Ramsay then tasted each restaurant's sample dishes, giving advice on what to do to make them better.
  • Service: Each restaurant served 50 diners, including Danny and Paula's relatives. All customers gave scores on the various aspects on their dining experience, and these were combined with Chef Ramsay's observations in determining the winner. Both Paula and Danny had nervous starts, and each team had significant weak spots. Andrea overcooked the halibut and scallops on Paula's side while Lacey constantly complained. On Danny's side, Giovanni prepared the sauce for monk fish which was too salty and Ben was slow on garnish. Both Danny and Paula were able to rally their teams together to complete service. Although Danny finished service first, Paula did not care, as she was more concerned about the quality of the food rather than the speed at which it was served.
  • Deciding the winner: Immediately after the service, Chef Ramsay announced to the cooks that "The winner of Hell's Kitchen... lives in Florida", teasing Danny and Paula, as both came from Florida. Because he felt both services were completed with excellence, he decided to utilize the customer comment cards to come to a decision. After everyone was dismissed, Chef Ramsay summoned Danny and Paula to his office, where he praised both for their hard work, and said that they both will have a wonderful career ahead of them.
  • Winner: Chef Ramsay showed Danny and Paula the doors; the one that opened determined the winner. Danny's door opened, signifying him to be the winner of the fifth season of Hell's Kitchen. In addition to the money and the position, his picture was mounted on the wall as part of the show's new feature, the "Hell's Kitchen Wall of Fame", which included pictures of past winners.
  • Chef Ramsay's Reason: "Danny won Hell's Kitchen because in a very short period of time, he grew more than any other chef I've ever seen. He now has the talent, the maturity, to become a great head chef. Borgata Resort should consider themselves lucky. I know I would."


Danny worked at Fornaletto for a few months and resigned in August 2009. He and his longtime girlfriend Devon Dempsey have moved back to Florida where Danny will pursue his career elsewhere. Danny later returned once again as one of the special VIP guests for Hell's Kitchen's "black-tie" 100th dinner service on October 13, 2010.


External links

Preceded by
Season 4
Hell's Kitchen
Season 5
Succeeded by
Season 6

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