So I went to a Hell's Kitchen filming on Sunday as a diner at the "restaurant." It was for Season 3's second episode. Got $40 for it too which was nice. But I don't know how much I can say, seeing as how I signed a disclosure agreement. So I'll try to steer around what was happening with the actual show as much as I can...
Hell's Kitchen is filmed at 915 North La Brea Avenue at the corner Willoughby Avenue in Los Angeles. It's pretty much in the middle of nowhere, amid industrial parks and train tracks, surrounded by security and gates. Dyno and I were the first one's there at 4 PM. A valet took my car and we were led up some stairs in to a building. They had us go into a small room with a lot of folding chairs to sign a bunch of paperwork. Disclosure agreements, liability papers, basically anything to cover their butt. Essentially: "I agree I'm not allergic to any foods and I realize that I'll be on TV." They took our picture and then we sat there for another hour and a half as more people poured in. Finally some PA's set out some snacks, and it reminded me that some dinner patrons don't get to eat anything until 10:00 -- if at all if Gordon screams to "shut it down." I filled a couple cups with pretzels and vegetables, worried I'd never get to eat.
A producer told us the rules at 5:10. Please keep conversation focused on the restaurant, "not the Super Bowl," she said, much to Dyno's chagrin. There will be a cash bar, but she warned for us to refrain from becoming too intoxicated, as "drunk and beligerant does not make good TV." I scoffed. Had she never seen The Real World? or Bad Girls Club? Then contradicting herself she said that cabs were available free of charge if we were too drunk to drive home.
At 5:30 Dyno and I were called up front along with 3 other couples. We were taken to the "restaurant" which was located across an industrial-type parking lot. We waited out front for 10 minutes in the cold until a producer told us to go in.
Jean Phillipe, the Matre d' - and Gordon's sort of sidekick on the show - greeted us and led us to our table. The restaurant inside is more beautiful in person than on TV. High ceilings (with tons of lighting and cameras) overlook huge mirror-paneled walls with colorful and intricate tilework. Merely feet away, Gordon was barking orders to the red and blue teams who were rushing around the kitchen. I could hear the expletives from here.
Cameras on high booms swung around to see us, and cameramen on foot, followed by men with boom mikes, swarmed towards us. We sat at the table and were welcomed by our waiter, who handed us our menus. We were finally in.
(Stay tune for more later!)