Ramsay poses with the knives used to stab people in the backYou don’t even have to watch Hell’s Kitchen to know Gordon Ramsay’s reputation. He’s cruel and vindictive and delights in berating the contestants on his show in every way imaginable. He has created insults that never before existed, just so he could hurl them like a saucier of sizzling velouté.
I know all this, but I thought he was just playing it up -- creating a bit of a brutish character to make his show more interesting. In my innocent mind, I saw him becoming a mentor to these young chefs once the show was over, or at least having them out for a pint of his favorite bitter.
Boy, was I ever wrong. Not only is he horribly abusive, he’s also a liar and a cheat.
Did you know that only one person out of all seven seasons has actually received the prize they were promised? It’s true.
Like most shows, Hell’s Kitchen publicly announces a prize at the beginning of every season. And we’re reminded of it throughout the show, just so we know how high the stakes really are.
This season, the seventh, the grand prize was placement as Executive Chef at the famous Savoy in London. This season’s winner, Holli Ugalde, was over the moon -- until Hell’s Kitchen yanked her prize right back. Despite having two years to get her work visa approved, the producers of the show claim her visa was denied. This came after Ramsay publicly announced that he’d named someone else as head chef, and that she was to receive a subordinate position. Nice.
She got some hush money instead, just like some previous winners:
Season 1, Michael Wray
Advertised prize: His own restaurant.
Season 2, Heather West
Advertised prize: Executive chef at a restaurant in the billion-dollar Red Rock Resort, Vegas.
Received: Nope. She was named “senior chef,” a demotion.
Season 3, Rock Harper
Advertised prize: Run a restaurant at the lush Green Valley Ranch Resort.
Season 4, Christina Machamer
Advertised prize: Executive chef at Ramsay’s joint in West Hollywood with a salary of $250K.
Received: No. She was made senior sous chef but was granted the salary.
Season 5, Danny Veltri
Advertised prize: Head chef at the Borgata, Atlantic City.
Received: No. He received a cash prize and a spot as sous chef.
Season 6, Dave Levey
Advertised prize: Head chef at Araxi in Whistler, British Columbia.
Received: Nope. His title was head chef, but he worked as a line cook under the executive chef. He resigned a few weeks into the job.
Interestingly, Ramsay's a financial wreck at the moment, being forced to sell restaurants and deeply embroiled in more than one lawsuit. Man, that karma's a bitch.
What do you think of these kitchen nightmares? Why are Ramsay and co. taking back prizes at every turn?
Image via Gordon Ramsay Submissions/Flickr