Judge Roy Hrab asks, "Would you be willing to pay for this review?"
Our reviews of The F Word: Series Four (published April 20th, 2010), The F Word: Series One (published January 31st, 2009), The F Word: Series Three (published October 15th, 2009), and The F Word: Series Two (published March 14th, 2009) are also available.
@#*%#@** out of my kitchen!!!!
The F Word: Series Five is the fifth installment of Chef Gordon Ramsay's (Hell's Kitchen) restaurant television program. This twelve-episode season is presented on four discs. Unlike past seasons, which represented the best of Ramsay's television programming, this one sees many of Ramsay's worst characteristics come to the fore.
There are multiple components to the show. The main thread is a "best local restaurant competition" where Ramsay sets out to discover and crown the best local restaurant in the Britain. The contest starts with a series of face-offs between establishments specializing in a particular cuisine: Indian, Italian, English, Chinese, Thai, French, Spanish, the Americas, Moroccan, and Greek. In the first round, the judges are 50 F Word diners, who are served a three-course meal and decide whether they want to pay for each dish or not. The restaurant that gets the most paid diners wins the round.
However, a victory guarantees nothing as only the top six scoring teams of the first round winners advance. For the semi-finals, Ramsay sends uncover diners to the restaurants to eliminate two more teams. The remaining teams then have to serve a packed house at their own restaurant before moving to a face-off at Gordon's flagship Royal Hospital Road restaurant to settle the finalists.
The action then heads back to the F Word restaurant, where the champion is crowned based on a combination of most paid diners and Ramsay's judgment. Surprisingly, for such a hyped competition, the winner's trophy is pretty cheesy.
As a whole, the competition lacks drama. There are few moments of tension because it is usually obvious who will win before the final scores are tallied. Also, in my view, the best team (which loses in the semis) does not win because of Ramsay's clear culinary biases, especially regarding the "complexity" of cuisine.
Further problems arise because of the presence of real chefs in the kitchen. (Previous seasons had amateurs cooking.) This results in Ramsay acting more abrasive, similar to his Hell's Kitchen persona. There is much sarcasm and constant ribbing, which is all right up to a point. Unfortunately, Ramsay goes further, treating these accomplished chefs as if they worked for him. However, in a moment of delicious irony, Gordon criticizes one of the competitors, in their own restaurant no less, for berating a sous-chef. Also, Ramsay talks too much about how important the competition is, and how a win will put the restaurant on the map. He's may be right, but he gets carried away regarding his own influence and importance on the culinary scene by making such a big deal about the whole shebang.
The second main thread of the series is British media personality Janet Street-Porter breeding pigs, chickens, and cows. The animals are to be slaughtered for the menu in the series finale. Not much happens here.
In addition to the above storylines, Ramsay goes on some culinary adventures, including to France to make croissants and hunting game, like snow goose in Quebec, Canada and reindeer in Lapland.
Last, there are a few recipe challenges between Ramsay and a celebrity guest. Each prepares their own version of a dish that is judged by a small group of diners. Ramsay wins most of the competitions, but he does act incredulous on the few occasions that he's defeated.
The video and audio quality is as solid as ever. The dishes look good enough to eat and every Ramsay profanity is clear and uncensored.
There are no extras.
The F Word: Series Five shows serious fatigue setting in, as this season is more about feeding Ramsay's ego than the food. As Chef would say: That's a shame.
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