Hell's Kitchen

Hell's Kitchen

If you've ever watched "Hell's Kitchen" and wondered when an aspiring chef would finally be pushed too far and turn on Gordon Ramsay -- well, your wait may be over.

By the end of Tuesday night's two-hour season premiere, one of the chefs -- a former Marine with an itchy trigger temper -- has had enough of Chef Ramsay's haranging. He rips off his chef's jacket and charges Chef Ramsay, challenging him to step outside into the parking lot. (This isn't a spoiler. Fox has been milking this moment in its own promos.)

But the knowing doesn't ruin the moment -- the two-hour ramp-up merely serves as a delicious appetizer to the show-stopping entree.

Chef Ramsay said in a media conference call last week that, as more contestants watch the Fox show and decide to apply for a spot, they arrive in "Hell's Kitchen" with a chip on their shoulder (and most likely a desire to garner some camera time).

"Contestants are getting more and more confrontational ... it's like dealing with petulent teenagers," he said, adding that he has this piece of advice for them: "Let your food do the talking; you'll be surprised at how far you will go in a very short time."

But Ramsay said he welcomes a certain amount of bravado from his underlings -- they will need it to succeed. "I encourage that level of confidence. That's great." He said the proper response to criticism is not to challenge someone to a fistfight but to learn from it: "You take it on the chin, you put your head down and you get on with it."

Not surprisingly, Ramsay defends his treatment of his aspiring wards and considers it his duty to drive them to the brink of their insecurities. That's how they'll learn. He said that chefs experience an emotional breakthrough when they finally realize he's there to teach them and impart his exacting standards. Even though it might not feel like it when he's calling them such signature insults as "donkey," "cow" or the inexplicable "doughnut."

Chef Ramsay said the prize being given out on this season of "Hell's Kitchen" is the best yet: The winner will become head chef at Araxi Restaurant & Bar in Whistler, British Columbia, a restaurant celebrated for its use of local ingredients. Moreover: Vancouver is host to the 2010 Winter Olympics, Chef Ramsay noted, so the winner of this season will also have the honor of welcoming the world to his or her restaurant.

Ramsay offered up a story about one of his own screw-ups in the kitchen: He was working in Paris for the legendary Joel Robuchon and was supposed to prepare a duck-covered-in-pastry dish that is supposed to be unveiled tableside with a flourish. Only Chef Ramsay hadn't browned the duck properly and was ordered to do it over. Well, somehow the pan was put back into the oven, baked and then brought out into the dining room -- without the replacement duck. "I completely screwed up," Ramsay said. He joked that there should have been a TV camera on him at the time, and then humbly added: "It would have been a Hollywood blockbuster."