Hell’s Kitchen Winners: Where Are They Now?
On the reality cooking show Hell’s Kitchen, chefs compete for a coveted job as head chef at a restaurant selected by host Gordon Ramsay. The winners also take home a $250,000 cash prize.
With season 19 underway and 18 new contests vying for the head chef position at Gordon Ramsay Hell’s Kitchen Lake Tahoe at Harvey’s Hotel and Casino, we decided to take a look back at the winners from the first 18 seasons of the hit Fox series.
Related: 10 of Gordon Ramsay’s Funniest Quotes and Insults—’This Isn’t Pizza, This Is a Mistake!’
Hell’s Kitchen celebrates blue collar line cooks. For many hopefuls who have spent their careers working behind the scenes, just being on the show is game changer.
“We’re not casting for beauty here. We’re casting for real chefs who live in and work in this industry and are given an opportunity to make something of themselves,” showrunner Kenny Rosen who has been with Hell’s Kitchen since the first season tells Parade.com. “These hardcore blue collar workers of America are being given a shot.”
Danny Veltri will never forget receiving the call that he had been selected from thousands of hopefuls to be on Hell’s Kitchen season 5. That telephone call changed his life.
After an extensive process that included an in-person interview, weeks of phone calls, menus and a background check, he was sitting at home in Edgewater, Florida, when saw the call coming from a California area code.
“I was sitting on the couch when they told me,” recalls Veltri, who is now head chef of Salt Life Food Shack in Jacksonville Beach, St. Augustine and Fernandina Beach, Florida. “I was told ‘Pack your bags, you leave in two days.’”
Related: Everything You Need to Know About Season 19 of Hell’s Kitchen
For the ultimate icing on the cake, Veltri was declared the winner of season 5. “I was so spent the night I won,” he shared. “The experience involves six weeks of 20 hour days. It truly is a test of skill and mind. So when that door opened, I was so proud, jumping up and down. It was so surreal. All that effort finally paid off.”
So where are the Hell’s Kitchen winners of each season now? Read on for more details about every chef who won Gordon Ramsey’s reality cooking show!
Hell’s Kitchen Winners
Michael Wray: Hell’s Kitchen season 1 winner
Michael Wray created the knife company Skull and Cleavers and teaches cooking classes. While dealing with a longtime addiction to pain killers, Wray fell on hard times. In September 2018, he created a GoFundMe, Chef Michael Wray 2nd Chance Fund. “I know I was given an amazing opportunity with winning Hell’s Kitchen. I could have done better but I was dealing with a wicked addiction to pain killers and it forced my hand with dealing in life’s hard choices. Not an excuse. Just a fact,” he wrote. According to reports things are looking up. He has gotten remarried and has been raising money to open a food truck business.
Heather West: Hell’s Kitchen season 2 winner
“Right now my main focus is being a mom to my two sons,” shares West. She also recently opened an at-home business cooking for her local community. West is a co-founder of the nonprofit East End Play Dates in Long Island and Nashville. The organization holds free events with free snacks, crafts and giveaways as a way for moms to connect with one another and feel less alone. “My best friend Emily and I started it because we both suffered from postpartum depression,” she explains. “We do huge givebacks to our community, have hosted hundreds of events and helped thousands of moms.” Thinking about her time on Hell’s Kitchen, West says her favorite part of the show and the reason why she competed in the first place was how proud it made her parents. “I’ve never forgotten how elated my dad was when I won. It was a moment I wanted my whole life,” she adds.
Related: 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Gordon Ramsay
Rock Harper: Hell’s Kitchen season 3 winner
“I fry chicken,” as Harper describes himself on Twitter. Based in Woodbridge, Virginia, with his wife and three children, he created Queen Mother’s to honor his mother Carole Harper, affectionately known to many as “Mother.” Through Queen Mother’s he hopes to honor culture and build community through fried chicken. The eatery in Arlington, Virginia, is famous for its fried chicken sandwiches.
Hell’s Kitchen winner Christina Machamer, season 4 (Donald Kravitz/Getty Images)
Christina Machamer: Hell’s Kitchen season 4 winner
Over the past decade, Christina Machamer has consulted with luxury brands in Napa Valley. “In 2017, I branched off to work independently consulting on special projects for small wine brands and working as a personal chef when there isn’t a wild fire or pandemic limiting those opportunities,” she shares. Machamer created the company Napa Valley Experiences to provide private dinners, curated wine tastings and other culinary experiences in the Napa Valley. “My wine country getaway has become a decade of living and working in the Napa Valley, managing wine brands and cultivating the proliferation of wine and food pairing programs throughout the region,” adds Machamer. She and her partner and are raising their toddler, Elijah Danger who she points out was born two weeks before Gordon Ramsay’s son, Oscar. “He keeps us busy most days,” says Machamer.
Hell’s Kitchen winner Danny Veltri, season 5 (Tom Briglia/WireImage)
Danny Veltri: Hell’s Kitchen season 5 winner
Danny Veltri is now head chef of Salt Life Food Shack. “We are a homegrown company out of Jacksonville Beach and currently have three restaurants in Fernandina Beach, Jacksonville Beach and St Augustine, and are looking forward to growing further,” says Veltri, who helped develop their unique menu of Hawaiian fusion food and dishes from Costa Rica. “Our culture reflects anything to do with the ocean, from surfing, diving, spear fishing or paddle boarding and beyond,” says Veltri. When reflecting on his time on the show his favorite moment was the competition. “There is nothing like living with 15 people all gunning for the same goal,” he says. “I thrive on competition and this was the epitome of that.”
Dave Levey: Hell’s Kitchen season 6 winner
After winning Hell’s Kitchen, Dave Levey worked as Araxi Restaurant and Bar in Whistler, British Columbia. He has since returned to New Jersey to work as a chef and baker at a variety of restaurants.
Holli Ugalde: Hell’s Kitchen season 7 winner
Holli Ugalde describes herself as a “farmer, chef, philanthropist, educator, business owner, CEO, momma.” Last we knew she had two brands Farm-A-Day skincare products and herbal teas created from ingredients from her farm in Beaumont, California. She is passionate about helping people live happy and healthy lives.
Nona Sivley: Hell’s Kitchen season 8 winner
For the last seven years, Nona Sivley has owned the restaurant Sizzling Peach with her wife, Briana. They are expanding into their newest venture, their first grab and go specialty grocery store in Norcross, Georgia. “We will focus on sustainability implementing a zero waste/less waste model, and procuring from local organic farmers and vendors who don’t necessarily have the platform to expand and grow on their own,” says Sivley.
For Sivley, one of the greatest things that came out of winning was strengthening her sense of self. “I gained independence and the ability to rely on myself. With the springboard of Hell’s Kitchen, so many doors opened and opportunities presented themselves,” she shares. “But without the self awareness I achieved, I wouldn’t have been able to get my businesses off the ground or take advantage of the gifts I received.”
Paul Niedermann: Hell’s Kitchen season 9 winner
For Paul Niedermann, winning Hell’s Kitchen set his life along a path that he could never have imagined. Originally from Florida, after working with the BLT Group all around the nation, he returned to Florida and is now with SALT7, a modern American restaurant in Delray Beach. This month the restaurant expands with another location in Ft. Lauderdale.
Hell’s Kitchen winner Christina Wilson, season 10 (Ethan Miller/Getty Images for Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit)
Christina Wilson: Hell’s Kitchen season 10 winner
Since winning season 10, Wilson has been promoted several times and is now the Culinary Director for Gordon Ramsay North America (GRNA) overseeing chef’s in 10 U.S. restaurants. “I’m continuing to leverage every opportunity my time on the show and within the Gordon Ramsay Restaurant group affords me,” says Wilson, who looks back at her time on Hell’s Kitchen with wonder. “I loved the constant learning and how hard chef pushed us to reach standards we’d never been held to before. Once you start operating to Gordon’s expectations, you start to expect that from yourself too. It’s amazing!”
Ja’Nel Witt: Hell’s Kitchen season 11 winner
Ja’Nel Witt is currently an executive chef and consultant. “I use my experience and expertise to help existing restaurants locate and remedy issues,” says Witt. “This includes profit loss, lack of systems in place, labor. I also help budding restauranteurs with menu development, training, kitchen design.” Her favorite part of being on Hell’s Kitchen was the opportunity to work with Chef Ramsey and winning challenges. “I have always respected him, and having him see my potential has given me additional confidence in my talent and skill set.”
Scott Commings: Hell’s Kitchen season 12 winner
Scott Commings is executive chef at Freedom Beat at the Downtown Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. The 24-hour breakfast-all-day restaurant serves up sandwiches and entrees inspired by regional recipes around the nation.
La Tasha McCutchen: Hell’s Kitchen season 13 winner
Salt Lake City native La Tasha McCutchen is an executive chef and owner of her own private catering business, Entertaining with Chef La Tasha. Formerly the head chef at Gordon Ramsay’s Pub and Grill in Atlantic City, N.J., she is sharing her journey online via Instagram. She even recently cooked for rapper Tee Grizzley.
Meghan Gill: Hell’s Kitchen season 14 winner
Meghan Gill is executive chef at Dormie Network, a nationwide network of private golf clubs. Looking to disrupt the culture and stereotype of golf clubhouse food, they feature classic techniques with a modern flair. “We’re orchestrating an environment where chefs can thrive, based on what I’ve learned while working at some of the best restaurants,” says Gill. “It has been really challenging but a lot of fun.” What stands out for Gill after being on Hell’s Kitchen is how far she was stretched. “I was pushed to adapt and overcome so many fears, from pulling crabs out of the ocean to jumping off a roof to just being in the kitchen with Gordon,” she says. “After Hell’s Kitchen, I worked with the Gordon Group at Caesar’s in Atlantic City, and those learning opportunities and exposure was life changing.”
Ariel Malone: Hell’s Kitchen season 15 winner
Ariel Malone currently works as a private chef and is the mother of three children, including twin girls. Her long term goal is to own and operate a farm and bed and breakfast where young men and women from the community can learn about farming and business ownership.
Kimberly-Ann Ryan: Hell’s Kitchen season 16 winner
Last we heard, Kimberly-Ann Ryan worked at The Cook’s House in Traverse City, Michigan. The beloved restaurant uses the bounty of locally grown and foraged foods. The 26-seat dining room has tables set with white linens and quality crystal, but the restaurant has a comfortable vibe with a dress code that merely says “clothes.”
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Michelle Tribble: Hell’s Kitchen season 17 winner
In the summer of 2020 after 2 1/2 years as head chef at the Hell’s Kitchen restaurant at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, Michelle Tribble left her position there after being furloughed during the pandemic. She currently lives in Oak Cliff neighborhood in Dallas. She is passionate about nutrition and is back in school studying dietetics. “I was grateful for the opportunity to slow down and reflect,” she said on Facebook about her leaving Hell’s Kitchen. “I am happy and healthy and moving on to the next phase of my life.”
Ariel Contreras: Hell’s Kitchen season 18 winner
Ariel Contreras is currently Vice President at Del Frisco’s Double Eagle, Del Frisco’s Grille, and Dos Caminos. Not one to slow down, she published the children’s book, Freckle-Faced Foodie: Journey of a Young Chef. She is also a judge on Beat Bobby Flay and lives in New York with her husband, Alexander Mangual, and two daughters, London and Charlotte.
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