Petrozza took heat, but lost ‘Kitchen'

Charlotte caterer garnered praise but not the prize in final round of Fox cooking showdown.

07/09/2008 12:00 AM

07/09/2008 2:30 PM

Charlotte catering director Louis Petrozza, who transformed from sometimes bumbler to a kitchen general in the final showdown of Fox's “Hells' Kitchen,” lost the final round but won praise from his demanding, devilish boss.

“Well done,” chef Gordon Ramsay told him in one of the few praising moments he allowed himself in the series.

Petrozza, 47, whose booths in the Los Angeles restaurant he designed were still being plopped into place only minutes before it opened, seemed to have won the appetizer round. But then he rapidly ran out of ingredients. He invented something else. Customers happy. Not bad.

His opponent, Christina, 25, a culinary student who came into the show with the least experience of any of the contestants, ran into trouble in her kitchen. Things got backed up. Then her fish was returned. Raw. “Raw. Raw, RAW,” she explained, exasperated.

More heat, new plates. Then a monk fish came back. Undercooked.

Then Petrozza stalled while making decorations on the plate. Plates finally reached the table after a drama over onion rings.

Since late March, this year's installment of the series has shown foul-mouthed, high-maintenance chef Ramsay insulting, making demands on and cursing the show's contestants.

In the finale, Ramsey praised them both for good effort. He said it was hard to pick a winner. “Two worthy finalists,” he said.

Petrozza watched the last show with friends at the Residence Inn at SouthPark on Sharon Road.

In a taste-off last week with chefs from host Gordon Ramsay's restaurants, Petrozza went 3-2 against opponent Christina in a sampling of dishes in the first challenge.

Petrozza offered filet mignon and caramelized onion risotto. Christina came up with grilled, dry aged New York strip steak.

But the big challenge was to split and operate a restaurant, tablecloths to menu.

Each was given a chance to choose a rejected chef to help them in the finale. Petrozza chose Ben Caylor of north Mecklenburg.

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