The Ridiculous Amount Of Editing That Goes Into Every Hell's Kitchen Episode

The popular FOX cooking competition show "Hell's Kitchen" broadly boils down to a simple narrative: Chefs make mistakes, and Gordon Ramsay screams at them. This makes watching "Hell's Kitchen" a lot like reading a list of Ramsay's most imaginative insults.

Distilling that straightforward narrative from the hours of filming that goes into "Hell's Kitchen" requires a lot of editing. "What I was told was there's about 150 hours worth of tape that needs to be cut down to a 43-minute episode," said Christina Wilson, winner of the 10th season of "Hell's Kitchen," in an exclusive interview with MashedKenny Rosen, the showrunner, told Reality Blurred that while a single season takes 18 days to film, post-production takes another six months. "Sixteen hours of TV shot over 18 production days is a lot," Rosen said. "Just to get through all their footage before the edit is, in and of itself, a monumental task."

Critics say the editing on Hell's Kitchen is too formulaic

Because "Hell's Kitchen" requires so much editing, the show's structure tends to be formulaic. So much so, in fact, that one viewer took to Reddit to list some editing habits that had become annoyingly predictable. It got to the point where the Redditor would head for the bathroom 20 seconds before a commercial started, knowing they wouldn't miss anything except a predictable pre-break cliffhanger. Of all the big reality competition shows, the Redditor said, "HK's editing is by far the most predictable, as if it were edited by robots." 

The show's editing can contribute to some clunkiness in the show's "reality." Serious Eats complained that a segment that involved deveining shrimp was overly long and punctuated by "swelling INTENSITY MUSIC letting us know that something important is about to happen. If you're relying on the soundtrack to build excitement, it's because the show doesn't have it."

Perhaps these sorts of editing tricks are inevitable when the small post-production team at "Hell's Kitchen" must take hours and hours of out-of-context shots and turn them into drama. In any case, Season 10 winner Christina Wilson told Mashed in an exclusive interview that the editing crew deserved some credit. "High five to the post-edit team that has to go through all of that," she said.