I don't often get attached to reality show contestants -- because I rarely watch unscripted competish skeins -- but in this cycle of Fox's "Hell's Kitchen" I'm rooting for Robert, a 29-year-old sous chef from Quogue, N.Y.
You can understand why his co-workers (in the real world, not the "Hell's Kitchen" bunker on La Brea) nicknamed him "Cuddles," according to his bio on the "Hell's Kitchen" home page. He's nearly 400 pounds of cuddly joy, but he's also a fierce competitor. In last night's seg, as he once again did battle with lazy-bones Lacey, he declared (to the camera's delight) that if she won the competish he'd hang up his apron and "become a crack whore."
Yes, he has a way with words, and an unusual pronunciation style that is strangely endearing. At one point he was carping at Lacey about how she's "not posed to do that" (translation: "not supposed to"). In another recent seg he tripped over the word "remember," which came out more like "menemember."
But more than anything else, I'm rooting for Robert because makes dishes that my husband and I would actually want to eat. He seems equal parts gourmet and gourmand. "Hell's Kitchen's" impossible-to-please boss Gordon Ramsay seems to respect Robert's skill and his obvious passion for great food -- it's real, as opposed to those contestants who jabber on about their passion without putting the goods on the plate.
Robert even got away with mooning the Big Cheese, albeit not to his face, in a confessional moment when Robert invited Gordo to "kiss my ass." Even with ample pixelation, the shot of Robert's wiggling his naked backside at the camera was a wide- screen moment not soon forgotten.
So here's to hoping that Robert rocks all the way to the grand prize, the head chef gig in Ramsay's Borgata restaurant in Atlantic City, N.J. As Robert has mentioned on air, he wants it so bad he postponed his wedding in order to take part in the show.
Hopefully, he'll win, get married and then take a little time off for a weight-reduction program. Because as fun-loving as he is, his weight situation is serious as a heart attack. I sense a father-son type "come to Gordon" confrontation for Ramsay and Robert coming soon.