Judge Roy Hrab. Chef Gordon Ramsay. Slaughtered pigs. Allez cuisine!
Our reviews of The F Word: Series Five (published November 19th, 2011), The F Word: Series Four (published April 20th, 2010), The F Word: Series One (published January 31st, 2009), and The F Word: Series Three (published October 15th, 2009) are also available.
Turning Up the Heat on Perfection.
The F Word: Series Two is the second installment of Chef Gordon Ramsay's (Hell's Kitchen) F Word restaurant television program.
Similar to the first season, there are three main threads in the second season. The first is the kitchen "brigade" competition that sees a team of amateur cooks preparing the dishes for 50 guests invited to dine at the F Word. The second is Ramsay's campaign to get British families to reinstitute the tradition of Sunday lunch. The last main line is Ramsay raising a group of pigs in his backyard garden so he can teach his children where food comes from and ultimately serve the animals at his F Word restaurant.
Like Series One, the second season is entertaining, but uneven. The kitchen brigade competition segments are much stronger than the commis chef competition in the first season. There are a number of reasons for the improvement. First, the F Word diners aren't getting free meals; instead, they decide whether they want to pay for a dish or not. The brigade that gets the most paid diners "wins" the competition: the prize is the glory of winning and the privilege of cooking on the season's final episode. Second, because the brigades members aren't vying for jobs, they are more relaxed then the commis chefs and let their personalities come through. Individual traits range from arrogant (i.e., The Oxford Students) to Ramsay-esque (i.e., The Bolton Boys: there's a good showdown between Ramsay and Adrian) to cool under pressure (i.e., The Doctors: Ramsay can't rattle a group of women who work in the ER). Third, in general, Ramsay is less abusive to the brigades than he was with the commis chefs. Last, Ramsay's reactions to large numbers of diners refusing to pay for a course occasionally border on the ridiculous. For example, when a large number of diners refuse to pay for a particularly fish dish because they find it bland Ramsay can't understand why they don't appreciate the "subtle" flavor of the dish. A little pretentious, yes?
Up next is Ramsay's Sunday lunch campaign. In these segments, Ramsay visits the kitchens of people who do not cook, and he works with them to prepare a proper meal from scratch. He also makes them pledge to make such meals a weekly ritual. This part of the show provides some good recipes and entertainment. The lunch involving a couple of single guys that have been living on booze, take-out, and frozen food contains some funny moments, as does the canned-baked-beans filled pantry of a British family living in France.
The pig segments aren't particularly remarkable until it comes time for slaughter, which is shown in all its gory detail—so beware. Ramsay is genuinely shocked and saddened by the killings, but still happily eats his beloved pigs.
In addition, each show features British media personality Janet Street-Porter, who presents segments on low fat and sustainable foods, ranging from goat meat to camel milk to veal. These segments are informative, but not as interesting or humorous as the Gilles Coren segments in Series One. Finally, there is a general cooking challenge (sadly, this replaced the pudding (dessert) challenge from Series One) between Ramsay and a celebrity guest. Each prepares their own version of a dish—pork pies, curry dishes, lasagnas—which are judged by a small group of diners at the restaurant. Unlike the dessert challenge in the previous season, Ramsay wins a majority of the challenges this time around. However, it's still fun to see the celebrities and Ramsay trash talk each other.
The video is adequate. The colorful dishes prepared by Ramsay and others shine, although sometimes Ramsay's eyes are so eerily and brightly blue that it looks like he belongs on the set of Dune. The audio is equally presentable. Every clattering pan and Ramsay snarl is audible. There are no extras. However, there is an omission. The F Word: Series Two is delivered on 3-discs, containing only 8 of the season's 9 episodes. According to the DVD case, "Episode 2 has been omitted from this collection due to clearance issues." The "clearance issues" are not elaborated upon.
Overall, The F Word: Series Two is more entertaining than the first season. Once again, Ramsay shows his passion for cooking and presents a host of easy to prepare starters, mains (utilizing vegetables, seafood, poultry, beef, and pork), and desserts that should be enough to inspire people to try their hand at cooking a real meal rather than ordering take-out or heating up frozen food.
Not guilty, but I'm deducting about ten points for the missing episode on
the belief that the complete series will eventually be issued.
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