Well, it's no secret, and by now you've heard: I have a gigantic girl-crush on Paula DaSilva, who was clearly robbed of her rightful title last night on Hell's Kitchen. I talked to Dean Max last night at 3030 Ocean, the Fort Lauderdale restaurant where 28-year-old DaSilva is chef de cuisine, after we'd all watched the show (dead silence fell on the entire room when Danny snagged the grand prize: $250,000 and his own restaurant at the Borgata), and Max said that it was pretty clear once you got a glimpse behind the scenes that Paula was the more accomplished of the two chefs.
That's no surprise. Paula has been trained in the kitchens of Dean Max, one of the best chefs in the business (and one of the most likable). Max told me he had "complete confidence" in Paula, who runs the kitchen at 3030 during his many absences. Twenty-three-year-old Danny, on the other hand, has his own restaurant called Flip Flops Grill and Chill in New Smyrna Beach, which pretty much says it all.
Ramsey said the choice between the two was the hardest decision he's ever had to make on Hell's Kitchen. So why did Ramsey pick Danny?
My theory is that Ramsey identified strongly with the young Danny, an underdog and an all-but-untrained kid with sand in his shoes, a kid, in fact, a lot like Gordie was many years ago. Danny wasn't going to go far without a push -- he'd probably have a hard time going anywhere other than the kitchen at Flip Flops. DaSilva really has had some advantages working at 3030, and my guess is Ramsey knew she'd do great things whether she won Hell's Kitchen or not. She's polished and professional and a great cook (she's also gorgeous in person), and it's impossible to imagine she won't someday achieve the status of say, Miami's Michelle Bernstein -- without any help from Ramsey.