Matthew Francis, a Duluth-raised chef with BuzzFeed cred who blends storytelling and food on his YouTube channel, was eliminated in Monday night's episode of "Hell's Kitchen: Young Guns."
He was done-in, in part, by bourbon-glazed chicken that relied on combining protein and alcohol, selected as one of the two worst dishes created on the episode. Then the clincher: a dinner service that Francis described as his "last chance to see if he fit into chef (Gordon) Ramsay's kitchen" before getting scolded by the sharp-tongued celebrity for his undercooked lambchop.
Team Blue had three players up for elimination, and two pled their cases to stay. Ramsay didn't give Francis that opportunity. He listed the young chef's botched dishes, and said, "Worst of all, your attitude sucks."
"Give me your jacket," Ramsay said to the Culinary Institute of America-trained 2013 graduate of Denfeld High School, then busted him for sneaking a food thermometer into the kitchen.
Francis was one of 18 chefs featured on Season 20 of the series set in Las Vegas. He has also worked for BuzzFeed's Tasty and created food videos for private clients. Now, two years after filming "Hell's Kitchen," he works for Maryland prepared-meal delivery company Freshly and has a YouTube series, "DinnerViews," that combines his interest in food and narrative. He is also the author of a YA series set in a sci-fi take on Duluth.
"I definitely hoped I could last longer, but 'Hell's Kitchen' is 'Hell' for a reason," Francis said in his exit interview. "Yes, I used the meat thermometer; I promise I can actually cook real food. I really wanted chef to see who I am, but I felt like I never really had the chance."
Francis survived a mid-episode elimination, a challenge that required combining protein and alcohol. The blue team picked his chicken breast with bourbon glaze, a dish that one teammate described as "excellent" and another said was "very well-executed." Ramsay praised the look of it: "Visually, it looks nice, rustic," he said.
But when he cut into it, he paused and called the rest of the team to the front table.
"You guys want me to eat pink chicken? Seriously?" he said.
Francis and a competitor from the red team, a non-meat eater from Alaska whose salmon wasn't properly cooked, (the fish was raw, and the pineapple was "knackered"), went face-to-face with Ramsay, who cut the latter.
"Get back in line and wake up," Ramsay said to Francis.
"They are going to have to physically remove me from the kitchen before I give up," Francis said in an on-camera interview.
The sharpest critique of the night was delivered to a young gun whose seafood dish wasn't uniformly cut. Ramsay described it as "bizarrely chewed up and spit-out ceviche."
Team Blue struggled with timing during its dinner service, and VIP diner Mike Tyson was caught describing himself as "starvin' Marvin." The red team easily won the challenge. Ultimately, the blue team offered up two contestants, including Francis, for elimination.
Each of the young chefs, all younger than 23 when the episodes were filmed in early 2020, survived the first week. Contestants were asked to introduced themselves with a signature dish. Francis' cioppino, a meal he described as having a "special place in my heart," didn't score high with Ramsay. Going into Monday's challenge, Francis said in an on-camera interview that he had learned his lesson from the first week.
After the show aired, Francis posted to social media: "One of the many hard life lessons I've learned through all this process is that life is silly, crazy, and we all have zero control over how others view us," he said. "Life moves forward and so do I."