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British Expat Newsletter:
21 November 2007

Hello, and welcome to those who have joined up since our last newsletter.

In this issue

  • This week: Hell’s Kitchen – American style
  • Virtual Snacks
  • Bizarre Searches
  • Quotation and joke

This week

We’re not big fans of reality TV and so-called “celebrities”. However, there are a few exceptions. We loved the British version of The Apprentice – where 12 people from various backgrounds compete, over 12 weeks, to become Alan Sugar’s apprentice. Each week one leaves the show after being told, “You’re fired!” The format of the programme was taken from a series made in America with Donald Trump as the boss seeking an apprentice. We watched a little bit of that but couldn’t stomach the behaviour of most of the people. Obviously it’s essential to be competitive in these contests but these people really took it to extremes.

We were stuck for something to watch and had the opportunity to watch the American version of Hell’s Kitchen, which stars the ubiquitous Gordon Ramsay. (We’ve never seen the British version of it.) We weren’t too keen at first, as we hadn’t enjoyed the American version of The Apprentice. However, bizarre though some of it was, we became completely addicted to it and watched the entire three series of Hell’s Kitchen American style, not once but twice! I’m not sure if I like Ramsay very much but he does make for compulsive viewing.

Hell’s Kitchen pretty much follows the same format as The Apprentice but, instead of consisting of business tasks, it’s set in a kitchen and restaurant where chefs compete to win their own restaurant. Each week one is told, “Hand me your [chef’s] jacket,” and has to leave the show. There are challenges and rewards and, unlike The Apprentice, there are also rather harsh punishments (kitchen duties) for the losers.

The programme itself is interesting, especially for anyone keen on cooking. But I think it was the people-watching aspect of it which made it such compulsive viewing. Some of the things they did were just plain weird. It made us wonder how on earth they’d got on such a show in the first place but perhaps that’s what makes “good TV”.

There was Aaron, the man who burst into tears almost every time he was spoken to, never mind shouted at. There was Jen, who practically fell over (literally!) every time something exciting happened – like the first time Gordon Ramsay spoke to her, and any time she won anything. There was Bonnie, who screamed “OH MY GOD!” repeatedly at just about anything. The women all whooped, screamed and leapt about like cheerleaders every time something good happened. The men had their quirks too, but in general weren’t quite so weird.

One thing that struck us as particularly odd happened after one of the contestants won $1,000 to spend in a kitchen equipment and cook shop. The shop sold all kinds of goodies of interest to the keen cook, and the contestant, among other things, bought one of Gordon Ramsay’s cookbooks. As it turned out, this contestant also won the next challenge, which was to reproduce Gordon Ramsay’s signature dish after tasting it, without a recipe. The others then accused her of cheating because she had read that book. How can reading a book be cheating? If I were to be going on that show (no thanks!) I would’ve read every Gordon Ramsay book I could lay my hands on, and practised as many recipes as I could. But apparently this was unacceptable to the American contestants.

There was bitching and back-stabbing, plotting and scheming. It was quite amazing the lengths that the contestants would go to in their attempts to sabotage the others.

Of course, there’s a limit to what can be shown in about 40 minutes, but we often felt we weren’t getting the full story. Apart from the bleeping out and pixellating of all the profanities (apparently this is only for US viewers; the programmes are shown uncensored in several other countries, including the UK), there was a lot going on which we weren’t told about. For example, the prize for winning the show was to become Head Chef of your own restaurant with a $250,000 salary and a share of the profits. We were interested to find out what had become of the winner of the first series, and whether s/he was still Head Chef of that restaurant. After a bit of digging on the Internet we discovered that the prize is only for one year – a pretty important fact which was never once mentioned on the show.

So perhaps “reality TV” isn’t quite as real as it seems…

Do you have anything to say about this topic? Or do you have some suggestions for other issues we might discuss in our weekly email? Why not comment and tell us?

Virtual Snacks

Just a few suggestions if you have a little time to spare:

Find out about Hell’s Kitchen straight from the horse’s mouth. Warning – all the winners are pictured on this page so if you haven’t seen the series and think you might like to, this is a spoiler.
Fox TV: Hell’s Kitchen

And if you’re interested in finding out all the gen about the TV chefs, where better than the BBC’s website?
BBC Food: Chefs’ Biogs

Bizarre Searches

Some strange search terms which have led people to visit British Expat recently:

  • michael fish clothing
  • dwarves cocaine platters
  • adult babies in spain
  • his is gregoriava from bulgaria. i saw her snatch this morning during her warm up and it was amazing
  • expat witches
  • flubbadubbadubbadub
  • funny stuff to do in a hotel
  • this is the tale curly wurly assorted creams
  • weird insect reproduction
  • emma s wild world

Till next time…
Happy surfing!

Kay & Dave
Editor & Deputy Editor
British Expat Magazine

Quotation

“Recipe:  A series of step-by-step instructions for preparing ingredients you forgot to buy, in utensils you don’t own, to make a dish the dog wouldn’t eat.”

– Anon.

Joke

A visiting sheikh from the Middle East is at a party in London. The food makes him thirsty and he sends his private aide to collect water several times.

He demands water for the fifth time but the aide comes back without water. The sheikh demands to know why.

The aide explains, “Other guest is sitting on waterhole in bathroom.”

PG Author: Kay McMahon

Kay has been an expat for nearly 30 years. She set up the British Expat website back in early 2000, whilst living in London and missing the expat life. These days she spends much of her time lugging computers and cameras around the world. (Dave gets to deal with all the really heavy stuff.)

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