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Hell’s Kitchen is a reality television show that uses a progressive elimination format to narrow down a field of 12 to 20 aspiring chefs to a single winner over the course of one season. The U.S. version of Hell’s Kitchen follows the format of the UK version though the show is recorded and not performed live, nor is there audience participation in the elimination of chefs. The show is produced at Hell’s Kitchen, a modified warehouse in Los Angeles that includes the restaurant, dual kitchen facilities and a dormitory where the chefs reside while on the show. They are also given knife sets that they get to keep, regardless of their progress.
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Once a bastion of poor and working class Irish Americans, Hell’s Kitchen’s location in Midtown has changed its personality since the 1970s. Though Hell’s Kitchen’s gritty reputation had long held real-estate prices below those of most other areas of Manhattan, by 1969, the City Planning Commission’s Plan for New York City reported that development pressures related to its Midtown location were driving people of modest means from the area. Since the early 1990s, the area has been gentrifying, and rents have risen rapidly. Located close to both Broadway theaters and the Actors Studio training school, Hell’s Kitchen has long been a home to learning and practicing actors, in addition, in recent years, to young Wall Street financiers.
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Hell’s Kitchen, also known as Clinton (and formerly as Midtown West), is a neighborhood on the West Side of Midtown Manhattan in New York City. It is traditionally considered to be bordered by 34th Street to the south, 59th Street to the north, Eighth Avenue to the east, and the Hudson River to the west. The area provides transport, medical, and warehouse-infrastructure support to Midtown’s business district.
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The name “Hell’s Kitchen” generally refers to the area from 34th to 59th Streets. Starting west of Eighth Avenue and north of 43rd Street, city zoning regulations generally limit buildings to six stories. As a result, most of the buildings are older, and are often walk-up apartments. For the most part, the neighborhood encompasses the ZIP codes 10019 and 10036. The post office for 10019 is called Radio City Station, the original name for Rockefeller Center on Sixth Avenue.
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When, in 1835, Davy Crockett said, “In my part of the country, when you meet an Irishman, you find a first-rate gentleman; but these are worse than savages; they are too mean to swab hell’s kitchen.” He was referring to the Five Points.
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Hell’s Kitchen has stuck as the most-used name of the neighborhood, even though real estate developers have offered alternatives of “Clinton” and “Midtown West”, or even “the Mid-West”. The “Clinton” name, used by the municipality of New York City, originated in 1959 in an attempt to link the area to DeWitt Clinton Park at 52nd and Eleventh Avenue, named after the 19th century New York governor.
There were multiple changes that helped Hell’s Kitchen integrate with New York City proper. The first was construction of the Hudson River Railroad, whose initial leg – the 40 miles (64 km) to Peekskill – was completed on September 29, 1849, By the end of 1849, it stretched to Poughkeepsie and in 1851 it extended to Albany. The track ran at a steep grade up Eleventh Avenue, as far as 60th Street.
The formerly rural riverfront was industrialized by businesses, such as tanneries, that used the river for shipping products and dumping waste. The neighborhood that would later be known as Hell’s Kitchen, started forming in the southern part of the 22nd Ward in the mid-19th century. Irish immigrants – mostly refugees from the Great Famine – found work on the docks and railroad along the Hudson River and established shantytowns there.
After the American Civil War, there was an influx of people who moved to New York city. The tenements that were built became overcrowded quickly. Many who lived in this congested, poverty-stricken area turned to gang life. Following Prohibition, implemented in 1919, the district’s many warehouses were ideal locations for bootleg distilleries for the rumrunners who controlled illicit liquor. At the start of the 20th century, the neighborhood was controlled by gangs, including the violent Gopher Gang led by One Lung Curran and later by Owney Madden. Early gangs, like the Hell’s Kitchen Gang, transformed into organized crime entities, around the same time that Owney Madden became one of the most powerful mobsters in New York. It became known as the “most dangerous area on the American Continent”.
After the repeal of Prohibition, many of the organized crime elements moved into other rackets, such as illegal gambling and union shakedowns. The postwar era was characterized by a flourishing waterfront, and longshoreman work was plentiful. By the end of the 1950s, however, the implementation of containerized shipping led to the decline of the West Side piers and many longshoremen found themselves out of work. In addition, construction of the Lincoln Tunnel, Lincoln Tunnel access roads, and the Port Authority Bus Terminal and ramps destroyed much of Hell’s Kitchen south of 41st Street.-
In 1959, an aborted rumble between rival Irish and Puerto Rican gangs led to the notorious “Capeman” murders in which two innocent teenagers were killed. By 1965, Hell’s Kitchen was the home base of the Westies, an Irish mob aligned with the Gambino crime family. It was not until the early 1980s that widespread gentrification began to alter the demographics of the longtime working-class Irish American neighborhood. The 1980s also saw an end to the Westies’ reign of terror, when the gang lost all of its power after the RICO convictions of most of its principals in 1986.
By the early 1990s, there was a recession, which scuttled plans for rezoning and severely reduced the amount of development in the area. After the recession was over, developers invested in areas like Times Square, eastern Hell’s Kitchen, and Chelsea, but mostly skipped the Far West Side.
While most fire stations in Manhattan lost firefighters in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the station with the greatest loss of firefighters was Engine 54, Ladder 4, Battalion 9 at 48th Street and Eighth Avenue, which lost 15 firefighters. Given its proximity to Midtown, the station has specialized in skyscraper fires and rescues; in 2007, it was the second-busiest firehouse in New York City, with 9,685 runs between the two companies. Its patch reads “Pride of Midtown” and “Never Missed a Performance”. Memorials dot the station’s exterior walls and a granite memorial is in a park to its north. Ladder 21, the “Pride of Hell’s Kitchen”, located on 38th Street between Ninth and Tenth Avenues, and stationed with Engine 34, lost seven firefighters on September 11. In addition, on September 11, Engine 26 was temporarily stationed with Engine 34/Ladder 21 and lost many firefighters themselves.
Based on data from the 2010 United States Census, the population of Hell’s Kitchen (Clinton) was 45,884, an increase of 5,289 (13.0%) from the 40,595 counted in 2000. Covering an area of 422.45 acres (170.96 ha), the neighborhood had a population density of 108.6 inhabitants per acre (69,500/sq mi; 26,800/km2).
The Clinton Community Garden, a neighborhood garden, is a result of the actors living in the area. Since they mostly work at night in the local theatres, they took time to create a garden in what was then a rubble-strewn lot on West 48th Street between Ninth and Tenth avenues Eventually it contributed to the area’s gentrification. Although the garden has a gate which requires a key, everyone who lives in Hell’s Kitchen can apply for a membership and get a copy of the key.
Hell’s Kitchen begins northwest of Penn Station. Amtrak trains going into the station run along a sunken corridor west of Tenth Avenue, which feeds into the Freedom Tunnel; it is used by approximately thirty trains daily. During the post-9/11 building boom, apartment houses have been built over sections of the train tracks.
At the end of the 13th season, it was announced that it was renewed for two more seasons through season 16. On September 9, 2016, Fox renewed Hell’s Kitchen for seasons 17 and 18, ahead of season 16, which premiered on September 23, 2016.
Ramsay reassembles the teams in the dining hall and hears out the nominations from the losing team(s). Ramsay may also nominate other chefs for elimination if he believes it appropriate. After giving these nominees the chance to defend themselves, Ramsay selects one to hand over their jacket and “leave Hell’s Kitchen.” On rarer occasions, Ramsay can overrule nominations or even eliminate a chef who has not been nominated, even a chef on a winning team.
In the finale, the final two chefs are each given the opportunity to develop their own menus and lead a brigade of former competitors through a full dinner service on their own. In the first five seasons, this included the opportunity to decorate half of the Hell’s Kitchen restaurant to their liking. Prior to the dinner service, the two chefs compete in a tasting contest, and the winner will earn the advantage of picking their brigade of chefs first. Ramsay will ensure that all menu items meet his standards for high cuisine prior to service, and he and his sous chefs will oversee the service to make sure that his high quality standards are retained, but does not otherwise get involved, allowing the two remaining chefs to demonstrate their ability to run the line.
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