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GACCA March Spotlight: Hell's Kitchen

Updated: Mar 15

By Judy Brenna, GACCA Communications Director

Catering & Special Events Director, Blue Dog Hospitality Group

((Picture it, Long Island, 2005. It’s May 30th, an unseasonably cool night. It’s 30 secondsto airtime and I’m panicking my popcorn won’t be done in time. My anxiety is kicking into to overdrive because I cannot miss this. The microwave’s ding reverberates off the walls of my barren kitchen…. Barren because I am having the kitchen repainted so everything, including the furniture is currently nestled on the back porch under a tarp, including all wall decor. I grab the piping hot bag of popcorn and hobble to my oversized chair in the living room... I’m on bed rest during this time period... I awkwardly flop down just as the intro begins, the open bag of popcorn spilling everywhere. NO TIME! The intro music starts… not the biggest fan, but ok… I watch Gordon Ramsey look at every contestant with utter disdain as little fire bursts flutter across the screen… a devilish grin involuntarily begins to form on my face….)). Yep, that’s right, I was HUGE Gordon Ramsey fan and this show. So, you can imagine how excited I was when I got wind he was bringing my beloved Hell's Kitchen to life in Atlantic City. Granted, it took me forever to get myself there after they opened because like I’ve explained multiple times in the past, I have no social life, but when I did, oh man... Let’s break it down…

Hell’s Kitchen, the show, is a reality competition using a progressive elimination format to narrow down a field of 20 chefs to one single winner over the course of one season, and includes superb challenges, spiny curve balls, and deliciously rancid insults at random intervals. It. Is. Fabulous. Hell’s Kitchen, the restaurant, is Gordon’s (yes we’re on a first name basis) third restaurant in Atlantic City. This restaurant boasts design features that are a nod to both the red and blue teams featured on the show. The dining room design is engaging to literally all of your senses, with an air of fine dining elegance, but in the 7th circle of hell. The bustling, open-style kitchen is the centerpiece of this place, with mosaic tiles artfully framing the open space, allowing guests a view from every seat in the house. And we cannot forgo mentioning the EPIC ceiling arrangement of metal pitchforks. If you’re sitting directly beneath it like I did, your dinner is even more enhanced by a slight fear of impending doom!


I embarked on this culinary adventure with my husband (hi, Mike!) and our close friends (shout out to Dave, Jen, Tommy, and Alysha!).  Naturally the moment we were seated my eyeballs danced directly to their specialty drinks, because as we well know, Mama likes her juice. We all ordered a few different tasty cocktails. I ordered the Meet Your Maker, and oh my Lord was it glorious. Made with Maker’s Mark Bourbon, Domaine de Canton, Fresh Mint, Apple, and Strawberry. The other cocktail I adored is their Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, made with Empress 1908 Gin, Lillet, and St. Germaine Fever Tree Mediterranean Elderflower Tonic, both floral and refreshing, and kindly note it can potentially go down WAY too quickly. But that’s for another time, and probably on a different platform of reading. Next, we ordered a ridiculous number of appetizers, because why not. From the Lobster Risotto, and Wagyu Meatballs, to the Pan Seared Scallops and the Steak Tartar, nothing disappointed. My husband, Mike, decided to go baller and do the Prix Fixe, which although priced at $115.99, was a pretty good deal, considering the menu’s price points, and included a full portioned appetizer, Gordon’s signature Beef Wellington, and dessert, their Sticky Toffee Pudding. It was most definitely sticky, but again, for a different reading platform. While everyone went all fancy and ordered probably the most interesting items on the menu for dinner (still kicking myself that I didn't order the short ribs like Jen and Dave did), I went with the Brick Pressed Chicken, after which the brief teasing ensued. What could I say? I was just in the mood for chicken. And it was, of course, delicious. And no, I have no shame admitting, that yes, I most certainly licked my plate. In public. With the chick in the bodycon dress and fire stilettos at the next table over idly watching.


And sure, I probably embarrassed myself, and yes, I could go on and on and on about the food. We know it’s good, it’s Gordon Ramsey. What I really want to mention, though, is their service. For the sake of sounding snobbish, am extremely hard to impress when it comes to dining service. And why wouldn’t I be, I forged years of experience schlepping food and drinks to people, mostly unsavory because let's face it, human beings, for the most part, are garbage, so I have a very high opinion of performance, and earned gratuity for that matter.  I am not, by any means, rude to staff at venues, but I always take silent derisive notes when a server, bartender, or host are lackluster.

I have standards. But at Hell’s Kitchen I couldn’t help but make quiet, captivated nods. From the way the menus were handed to us, and the manner in which they poured water, to their process of making suggestions and taking orders, and how my napkin was magically folded whenever I would return from the bathroom (again, for another reading platform), it was clear that although we were in Beelzebub’s Dining Room, with lots of voices buzzing and kitchen utensils clanging, potential clandestine business deals going down, and laughter throughout, we were clearly in a fine dining establishment. Plus, they have this super cool screen upon first entrance where you can take a picture with Gordon Ramsey looking down at you with disapproval. It’s awesome.

Just look at that Culinary Celtic God towering over us... (sigh)... Go see for yourself. Located in Caesar’s Atlantic City on the main floor in the Casino. Reservations are recommended, and so are healthy appetites!



Note to reader: I do not recommend wearing wool if you’re planning on imbibing a ton, and eating way more than what your tummy can handle, you are ensured to get the wooly sweats.

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