Hell’s Kitchen is one of the most popular cooking shows on television. Known for its high-pressure challenges and the antics of head chef Gordon Ramsay, the show is a great way to feel energized without experiencing any pressure yourself. However, despite the fact that the show has spent a considerable amount of time in the spotlight and under the scrutiny of the public eye, there are still some things that many people don’t know. With that in mind, here we present our list of 15 facts you probably didn’t know about Hell’s Kitchen.
Number Fifteen: The Producers Look for Passion
When accepting applicants to the show, its producers search primarily for a sense of passion. More than skill or level-headedness, passion is the most important character trait of the show’s contestants.
Number Fourteen: You Don’t Have to Be Hardcore to Get on the Show
Though many of the contestants are covered in tattoos or smoke like a chimney, the producers say that it’s not a prerequisite to being accepted. It just so happens that many of the passionate people who are interested in being on the show have that lifestyle.
Number Thirteen: Contestants Have to Put Everything on Hold for Five Weeks
Jobs, families, any obligations you have to your real life – forget it for five weeks if you’re a contestant on Hell’s Kitchen. Contestants can’t call home or even watch television for the five weeks it takes to film a season.
Number Twelve: Contestants Share a Bedroom
Every contestant shares a bedroom with at least three or four other contestants, and the layout of the living quarters is similar to a dorm. Cameras are everywhere, including in the bathroom, so it’s difficult to hide anything.
Number Eleven: Most Contestants Don’t Get Much Sleep
Most days on the show begin around 7 in the morning, and most nights don’t finish up until about 2 in the morning the next day. This allows for just five short hours of sleep, which might explain why some of the contestants always look so haggard.
Number Ten: The Contestants Have to Cook Their Own Meals
Despite the fact that contestants can be working for up to 19 hours a day, they still have to cook their own food when they wrap for the day. The fridge is fully stocked, but that doesn’t make cooking after a stressful day on a cooking show any easier.
Number Nine: It’s Sort of Like School
The show’s head chef, Gordon Ramsay, has compared the process of being a contestant on Hell’s Kitchen to school. Because of the long days and difficult challenges, being a contestant is sort of like attending an Ivy League college – but worse.
Number Eight: Most Contestants Have Breakdowns
Though only some breakdowns end up on air, most contestants on the show experience a breakdown or extreme self-doubt at some point. Head chef Gordon Ramsay always offers contestants the option to leave the show if they feel they are psychologically unprepared for it.
Number Seven: The Contestants Don’t Get a Salary
However, they do get a stipend. Though contestants earn relevance by being on television and are given the opportunity to win a lot of money, it’s by no means a glamorous experience.
Number Six: The Only Cooking Skill Requirements Are Basic Knife Skills
It’s true! We already mentioned that the producers look for passion in contestants, but they also know that the most experienced chefs in the industry aren’t always right for the show. The contestants only need to have basic knife skills to get on the show.
Number Five: Contestants Are Evaluated by a Psychiatrist After Leaving the Show
Most likely for legal reasons, contestants that leave the show or quit must undergo a psychiatric evaluation to make sure they don’t have suicidal tendencies. They also go to a nice house to be pampered before they return home.
Number Four: The Personalities on the Show Aren’t Exaggerated
You might think that the show’s producers exaggerate the personalities of the contestants to make the show more interesting, but that’s where you’d be wrong. Most of the contestants have big personalities, and the show’s circumstances allow their personalities to really show.
Number Three: The Diners Get the Full Experience
If you’ve ever watched the show, then you’re familiar with the challenges in which the contestants cook for diners who can see into the kitchen. Well, those diners really do see – and hear – everything that goes on in the kitchen. One contestant described the process like “dinner theater.”
Number Two: The Hell’s Kitchen Isn’t in a Real Restaurant
Though diners truly do get the full experience, the kitchen and dining room featured on the show are not part of a real restaurant. In fact, it’s part of a sound stage.
Number One: Diners Get Free Booze
If you ever decide you want to be a diner on an episode of Hell’s Kitchen, make sure you take advantage of the open bar! Because filming can take up to three hours and food service can be delayed, diners have access to free beer and wine throughout the evening. We hope you enjoyed our list of 15 facts you didn’t know about Hell’s Kitchen!