Hell’s Kitchen has become the gold standard for reality television cooking competition shows everywhere. Few things can beat the sheer brilliance, hilarity, and entertainment that is Gordon Ramsay screaming crafty insults at wannabe cooks who have come from all walks of life to learn under him, and maybe go home with the winning prizes. The show is without doubt one of the most challenging competitions that anyone can be a part of, and your skin has to be thick to make it through in one piece. Now past its eighteenth season, the series is still wildly popular and beloved by millions, but not everything on the show is quite as it seems. Below are 5 chilling facts about Hell’s Kitchen that you probably didn’t know.
1. Contestants are forbidden to eat at the restaurant
You’d think after spending grueling hours in the kitchen creating all kinds of sumptuous meals, the contestants would be allowed to dish one or two for themselves. But according to the rules of Hell’s Kitchen, they cannot do that. If they wish to eat, they are expected to cook for themselves since the ingredients for anything they could possibly hope to make are at their disposal. The contestants have a small kitchen in their dorm rooms where they can prepare what they want to eat during their off-hours. However, most of them end up forgetting to eat because of their demanding work schedules, and they soon learn to survive on quick meals like sandwiches, and the endless alcohol that flows from the open bar.
2. The stress of the show turns people into smokers and alcoholics
Hell’s Kitchen only lasts for about a few weeks, but during that time, contestants are pushed to the edge and sometimes over it. Their physical, mental, and emotional limits are repeatedly tested till there’s just a thin line between their keeping an eye on the medal and having a breakdown. Their working hours are long and demanding, not to mention intimidating since they have to do it under Ramsay’s watchful eye. The pressure almost never lets up and they spend their days competing against other talented chefs, without the option of going home at the end of the day to complain about it to their friends and families. The stress usually gets so high that people who entered the show as non-smokers take up smoking actively to get by, and almost all the contestants take full advantage of the open bar to drown their sorrows.
3. Gordon Ramsay is surrounded by bodyguards
Let’s face it, Ramsay is not some two-bit, no name hustler who happened to land a job hosting a TV show. He is one of the most decorated chefs in the world. He has appeared on dozens of culinary television shows, he owns 18 restaurants, has accumulated over $60 million in net worth, and has earned 16 Michelin stars. If he’s going to spend his day cursing, yelling, and berating people for cooking a meal improperly, no one can blame him for getting adequate protection in his corner. The bodyguards are usually behind the scenes and they never step into the mix unless it seems like an altercation is about to get physical. Although protecting Ramsay is a top priority for the bodyguards, they are also there to safeguard the rest of the crew and keep punches from being thrown.
4. The living quarters are tiny and cameras are everywhere
The dorm rooms in Hell’s Kitchen are nothing like the ones you see in shows like The Bachelor, where the living quarters are big and spacious. Like most reality television shows with multiple participants, Hell’s Kitchen has shared rooms, but they are quite small. Three or four contestants have to share a space, and it often makes for awkward encounters. Everywhere you look, even in places you wouldn’t think to look, there are cameras watching every movement, argument, and embarrassing moments. Hell’s Kitchen contestants not only have to deal with sharing a room with strangers but also with the feeling of exposure and vulnerability that comes with knowing you are always being watched. Many contestants would agree that this is one of the most chilling facts about Hell’s Kitchen.
5. Contestants have to go see a psychiatrist after they are evicted
Workdays that last close to 20 hours, without proper nutrition and enough time to rest, topped with Gordon Ramsay screaming in your face can no doubt make a person lose their mind. Hell’s Kitchen producers understand how draining the experience can be, especially for those who do not get to win the prize, which is why after a contestant gets booted off the show, they are required to check into rehab. There, a psychiatrist will evaluate their mental and emotional state to make sure they are not a danger to themselves or others. The Rehab is a gorgeous mansion in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by beautiful scenery. It is equipped with a spa and other amenities to help contestants decompress and get back to a balanced state of mind before they return to the real world.