• Jason Howell

Most Surprising Hell's Kitchen Updates

As we prepare for the premiere of Season 19 of Hell's Kitchen, I wanted to go back and revisit all the former contestants and see what happened to them after the show.

Many of them, whether they won or not, found work in the culinary industry. Some went back to their old restaurant jobs and others found positions as head chefs at various restaurants. Numerous contestants went on to compete on Food Network programs such as Chopped and Beat Bobby Flay. Some run catering businesses. And a number, oddly enough, walked away from cooking.

As I looked through the information available on the Hell’s Kitchen wiki, these were the updates that I found most surprising.

Note: these updates are based on the information that was available on the Fandom site at the time this article was written.

Remembering those who passed

I will start this article by noting the chefs that are sadly no longer with us. As of this composition, six chefs are listed on the Fandom site as being deceased: Keith Greene (Season 2) from drowning, Rachel Brown (Season 2) by suicide, Aaron Song (Season 3) from complications to diabetes, Louis Petrozza (Season 4) due to lung cancer, Jessica Vogel (Season 12) from ulcerative colitis, and Paul "Paulie" Giganti (Season 16) from an accidental overdose.

Jason “Jay” Santos- Season 7

Jay was the runner-up in Season 7. Since then, he has kept busy appearing on various television shows, teaching culinary classes, and owning multiple restaurants. If you haven’t watched the show but think he looks familiar, Jay has actually appeared as one of Jon Taffer’s experts on the Paramount network’s Bar Rescue.

Jay will return in the upcoming season of Hell’s Kitchen as the sous chef for the blue team.

Robert Hesse- Seasons 5 & 6

Robert had to leave in the middle of Season 5 due to a medical emergency. In the first dinner service of the following season, Robert and his wife were guests in the dining room. After the service, in one of the most heart-warming moments of the series, Ramsay came out to the dining room and offered Robert a second chance. Robert was eliminated in Week 7.

Since his second appearance on the show, Robert, after suffering three heart attacks, lost 455 pounds. I first saw his transformation when he appeared on Beat Bobby Flay. He has also worked at other restaurants.

Frank Cala- Season 15

Hell’s Kitchen may boast some of the most over-inflated egos on television, with often derogatory insults being exchanged between teams and competitors. Frank was no exception.

When I watch the show, I often wonder how many of the contestants are hit with backlash once their appearance on the show hits the airwaves, with their arrogance and attitude in full view for everyone.

Before appearing on Hell’s Kitchen, Frank was a chef in the Marines. Unfortunately, Frank was known to make sexist remarks. After his elimination, he blamed the downfall of the blue team on the team-swapping that Chef Ramsay inevitably does, ending the gender divide. Frank even went as far as to say, in vulgar terms, that whenever he gets female Marines, he sends them back where they came from.

The Fandom article did not make it clear whether it was a direct result of his appearance on the show, but Frank was removed from his post in the Marines and reassigned over sexist remarks. He later apologized, claiming his remarks were taken out of context.

Not All Winners Win the Prize

Not all winners end up in the promised position at the prize restaurant. For example, Michael from Season 1 ended up declining the position. But to date, three chefs were not awarded the position for various reasons.

Dave Levey from Season 6 (the chef who famously bounced back after injuring his wrist) worked at the promised restaurant for the 2010 Winter Olympics, but found out the position was for a line cook, not a head chef.

Ja'Nel Witt from season 11 was denied the position after failing a drug test.

Holly Ugalde was the winner of Season 7, where the prize restaurant was the Savoy Grill in London. But according to the site, she was not able to take the position because of visa issues. Holly claimed the producers never even applied for her visa, so instead, she accepted a cash prize, before becoming a chef at a Florida hotel and eventually starting a lifestyle program.

Which updates are you most surprised by? Let me know in the comments. And for information on the show and other contestants, check out the Fandom site at hellskitchen.fandom.com.