With the season 11 finale of Fox TV’s Hell’s Kitchen right around the corner, we want to take a moment look back at the HK winners from the past 10 seasons and share where the winners have been and where they are now.
Have they thrived since their glory? Or have they faded and dulled like an old table cloth? Let's take a look:
The first ever winner of Hell’s Kitchen, Season 1, was Michael Wray. When he first won he chose to travel to London to train under Chef Gordon Ramsay, then later decided to focus on his family and stayed to be head-chef in some prominent Los Angeles restaurants, such as The Standard. Since then, not only has he started his own custom knives company called Skull and Cleavers, but he also tried to open his own restaurant in Arizona called HK1. Sadly however, it never materialized due to lack of funds. It is rumored that he is now in Arizona teaching cooking classes at an Arizona college.
Heather West was the winner for Hell’s Kitchen Season 2. For her prize, she was to become Executive Chef at Terra Rossa, an Italian restaurant at Red Rock Resort Spa and Casino in Las Vegas. However, Heather only became Senior Chef for one year. She then went on to become head chef in a restaurant called Monterey Restaurant in Long Beach, New York. Today she works as the executive chef at Ciao Baby in Commack and Massapequa Park, where she was executive chef for over a year. Today, Heather is now chef at Thatched Cottage, a catering venue in Centerport.
Rahaman “Rock” Harper won Hell’s Kitchen Season 3. His prize was to become the Head Chef at Terra Verde at Green Valley Ranch in Henderson. After his one-year contract was complete, he then went on to work in restaurants throughout Washington, DC. He then found the perfect job for him at the time, director of kitchen operations for D.C. Central Kitchen, a non-profit that feeds, educates and strives to save thousands from chronic homelessness, poverty and crime. He has also just opened a new restaurant called fatShorty’s, which strives to serve some of the best sausage, mussels and cold beer to its customers.
Christina Machamer won Hell’s Kitchen Season 4, and the prize was to become Executive Chef at the Gordon Ramsay restaurant in the London West Hollywood Hotel. Instead, she was given the position of Senior Chef under Executive Chef Andy Cook. She then took some time off to study wine and viticulture at The Culinary Institute at Greystone in Napa Valley. Today she works at B Cellars, helping to create wines that go well with food as well as helping around the winery and interacting with guests.
Danny Veltri won Season 5 of Hell's Kitchen. He became Sous Chef under Stephen Kalt at Fornelletto at the Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Originally, he was supposed to be the Head Chef at another restaurant built at the Casino. When he didn’t become Head Chef, Danny quit and began consulting. He then created a catering company called Back From Hell Catering, poking at his experience in "Hell's Kitchen.” He then joined with a group of investors that wanted to create a surf bar with food. He was Chef of the Gnarly Surf Bar & Grill near the Intracoastal Waterway in Central Florida for a period of time. Today, Chef Veltri is helping Chef Erik Amalfitano and management at Flip Flops establish a new menu.
Dave Levey won Hell's Kitchen Season 6, and the prize of Head Chef at Araxi Restaurant and Bar in Whistler, British Columbia. However, as we mentioned earlier, he was treated like a line-cook. He worked at Araxi Restaurant until the end of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. Currently, he is in Nashville helping his sister with her music career.
Holli Ugalde won Hell's Kitchen Season 7, which was supposed to follow with the position as Executive Chef at The Savoy in London. However, she could not get a visa to work in the UK. Ugalde called that explanation an excuse, saying, "I don't know if they even applied for my visa." Ugalde accepted an undisclosed amount of cash instead. She had a job as the Signature Chef of a new restaurant in B Ocean Hotel in Fort Lauderdale, Florida called B’stro on the beach. She now lives in southern California and has a signature line of cookware that she has been promoting on her website.
Nona Sivley won Hell's Kitchen Season 8, along with the prize position as Head Chef at LA Market at JW Marriott Hotel in Los Angeles as well as the opportunity to be a spokesperson for Rosemount Estate Wines. She is now working as Chef de Cuisine at LA Market with Celebrity chef Kerry Simon.
Paul Niedermann won Hell’s Kitchen Season 9, which was supposed to be a prize of head chef at BLT Steak in NYC. Instead he will now be working under chef Cliff Crooks, a season two contestant of Top Chef.
Christina Wilson won Hell’s Kitchen Season 10 and she is now the head chef of Las Vegas-based Gordon Ramsay’s Steak Restaurant at Paris, working under Kevin Hee. She also came back for a guest appearance on Hell’s Kitchen season 11.
It seems there is a serious trend that either HK winners do not get their prize, get the title of the prize, but not the responsibility, or the winner leaves their position as soon as their contract is fulfilled. It almost seems pointless to go through all the pain and suffering that we witness season after season. However, every winner seems to say the same thing about the show… it is the BEST experience of their lives!