Real Time Web Analytics Foodie Gossip: July 2014

Monday, July 21, 2014

Hell's Kitchen Winners: Where Are They Now?

The 12th season of Hell’s Kitchen is wrapping up, and with it, the curiosity of where the past Hell’s Kitchen winners are now. How many chefs actually received the prizes they were promised? How many of them went on to become successful chefs in the culinary world? Do any of the winners still have a chip on their shoulder from their experiences at Fox TV's Hell's Kitchen? 

Read on to see how the winners of the first 11 seasons of Hell’s Kitchen are doing! 

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, like 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. Last we heard, Chef Michael Wray is residing in Arizona and teaches cooking 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. Having made a name for herself in the greater New York area at upscale eateries like Ciao Baby in Commack and Massapequa Park, and Thatched Cottage in Centerport, Heather is now the Executive Chef at Schafer’s in Port Jefferson, NY.

Rahaman“Rock” Harper was the Season 3 winner. He enjoyed his prize as the Head Chef at Terra Verde at Green Valley Ranch in Henderson, NV. After his one-year contract was complete, he then went on to work in restaurants throughout Washington, DC before finding the perfect fit as the 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 and business partner Aaron Gordon opened fatShorty’s in a D.C. suburb, it closed its doors in October 2013. Guess we’ll have to wait and see what Chef Harper has in store for us next!

Christina Machamer won Hell’s Kitchen Season 4, and the chance 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 and became Sous Chef under Stephen Kalt at Fornelletto at the Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa in Atlantic City, New Jersey. He later created a catering company called Back From Hell Catering, poking fun at his experience in "Hell's Kitchen.” Soon after, he partnered with a group of investors to create Gnarly Surf Bar & Grill near the Intracoastal Waterway in Central Florida, where he was Head Chef. 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. Unsatisfied with his role in the kitchen, he left the position shortly after 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 granted a visa to work in the U.K. Ugalde called that explanation an excuse, saying, "I don't know if they even applied for my visa." Instead of the The Savoy, Ugalde accepted an undisclosed amount of cash. She worked as the Signature Chef of a new restaurant in B Ocean Hotel in Fort Lauderdale, Florida  B’stro on the Beach. She now lives in Beaumont, California & enjoys cooking for her family. 
** SIDE NOTE: It looks like Holli has left her website and social media accounts in the past with her restaurant career. We tried to visit her website, but found it had been hacked and implanted with a virus. If you're dumb enough to check it out anyway, here's some friendly advice - do not click on the warning popup. Clicking on that will actually infect your computer. Just do a force-shutdown of your computer or device and never visit that site again. 

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, and the opportunity to be a spokesperson for Rosemount Estate Wines. After returning to work at LA Market as Chef de Cuisine with Celebrity chef Kerry Simon, the two opened a new venture, Pork & Beans, in the Las Vegas Container Park in November 2013. It had only a short run before shuttering in April. Nona now presides as the Executive Chef at Vine and Tap, a gastropub and wine bar in Atlanta.

Paul Niedermann won Hell’s Kitchen Season 9, which was supposed to be a prize of head chef at BLT Steak in NYC. While is he currently in the kitchen at BLT Steak, he is actually working under Chef Cliff Crooks, a Season 2 Contestant of Bravo’s Top Chef. We can’t wait to see what comes of this talented pairing….

ChristinaWilson won Hell’s Kitchen Season 10 and took on the role of Head Chef of Las Vegas-based Gordon Ramsay’s Steak Restaurant at Paris Hotel & Casino. After a very successful year at Gordon Ramsay’s Steak, she has continued her partnership with Chef Ramsay as the Executive Chef at BurGR in Planet Hollywood Casino. She returned for a guest appearance on Hell’s Kitchen season 11.

Ja’Nell Witt earned the title of Season 11 winner and the prize of Executive Chef at Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, however lost the offer after failing a drug test.  Chef Ramsay has offered his support to Ja’Nell, and still awarded her a cash prize for the win on Hell’s Kitchen. In June, she was named the Executive Chef at Corner Table, a new American restaurant in Houston.

By the way, did anyone else notice the apparent trend that either HK winners do not get their prize, or 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!