As he hinted in a recent interview with Eater a few weeks ago, Blue Inc. chef/owner Jason Santos appeared on Fox’s Hell’s Kitchen last night to strike fear into the final six contestants of the current season. While the cheftestapants are celebrating the fact that they have reached their first dinner service as one united team (till now they'd been competing as two), host Gordon Ramsay surprises them with a team of six runners-up from previous seasons, including Santos, who was the runner-up of Season 7. Despite the dramatic introduction of the team of HK veterans, who first appear as shadowy figures behind brightly lit frosted doors, it is implied that the rules are the same as always: one person on the losing team would have to go home. Well, in the case of the returning almost-champs, they’d all be going home anyway. It's unclear whether all six finalists of the current season would live to see another episode if they somehow win the night.
“Still sporting that blue hair,” Ramsay observes as he welcomes Santos back to the show. Cut to a Season 7 flashback of Santos stating his two goals: to win, and to sleep with co-contestant Holli (who went on to win the season). Classy! Next, one of the current contestants belligerently rants to the camera about how stupid Santos’ blue hair looks. All the current contestants seem a bit antsy facing up against the team of people who almost made it to the end.
The dinner service begins with the team of runners-up appearing relatively calm and cooperative, despite having never worked together. “This is the first time I’ve actually been here that I’m excited to cook,” says Santos, quickly earning a coveted compliment from Ramsay - “beautiful scallops” - as the appetizers start leaving the kitchen. He later messes up slightly, sending out one perfect portion of bass but another caked in black pepper, but ultimately Santos and the rest of the returning team do little to draw forth Ramsay’s legendary wrath and foul mouth.
The returning chefs win rather anticlimactically and unsurprisingly, although the current contestants put up a fairly strong fight. For Santos and the rest, it perhaps feels somewhat redeeming to be on a winning team again after losing at the very end in their own seasons, but they’re still going home from Hell’s Kitchen empty-handed. It hardly matters, though; the calm, confident attitude of the team hints that this is just an amusing visit for most of them, and they’ve all made significant strides in their careers since their first time here.