Monday, February 16, 2009

'Hell's Kitchen' hopeful is a local


It's like Gordon Ramsay's "Hell's Kitchen" is the unfortunate-looking stepchild when compared with "Top Chef."

Both are reality chef-driven shows, but "Top Chef" always gets props from the critics for putting on up-and-coming culinary stars, while "Hell's Kitchen" is generally mocked because of its foul-mouthed host in Ramsay.

But in its current fifth season, the show is stepping it up with some serious competition, including our very own Ben Walanka, a sous chef at Rhapsody and the Chicago Symphony Center.

Ben Walanka's signature dish on Hell's Kitchen: Peking Duck Breast and Golden Beets with Baby Bok Choy, Tri-Colored Baby Carrots and Fig Molasses. (Photo: Ben Walanka)

During the premiere episode a few weeks back, Walanka sweated with the other 15 contestants as Ramsay tasted their "signature dishes" to see who really had the chops to win the position as executive chef of the Borgata Resort in Atlantic City as well as a $250,000 cash prize. His perfectly executed Pan-Seared Peking Duck Breast impressed Ramsay, who admitted that Walanka's creation was "by far the best dish on the men's team."

Thursday marks the third episode, and we found at least one viewing party if you'd like to cheer Walanka on—with him.

In fact, it comes directly from his Facebook status:

Ben Walanka: "Wants to know who's coming to Kirkwood on Thursday to watch 'Hell's Kitchen' with me!"

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