What The Winners Of Hell's Kitchen Are Doing Today

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The following article includes mentions of substance abuse and suicide.

Season 20 of "Hell's Kitchen: Young Guns" concluded in September 2021 and saw Trenton Garvey walk away with a head chef position at Gordon Ramsay Steak at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel & Casino. Speaking to Mashed about his life-changing move to Sin City and beginning his new career, Garvey shared, "That's what I'm excited for ... It's a new ballpark, and getting back in the learning shoes and taking up the protege, and doing what I can." Garvey isn't the only contestant who has had his life forever changed thanks to "Hell's Kitchen." He follows in the footsteps of 19 prior winners who also have experienced the same momentous win.

When "Hell's Kitchen" premiered in 2005, the winner got the opportunity to work with Gordon Ramsay in London and later open up a restaurant of his own. Now that past winners no longer have to deal with the celebrity chef's infamous on-camera rage or have their risotto thrown in the garbage for lacking taste, they are keeping busy with their careers in cooking, with many opening up their own restaurants and catering businesses and even becoming private chefs. Below are all of the past winners of "Hell's Kitchen" and what they have been up to since appearing on the show. 

Michael Wray

The first-ever winner of "Hell's Kitchen" was Michael Wray, who originally took up Gordon Ramsay's offer to work with him in London. However, Wray later declined the prize after revealing that he had an addiction to drugs. Wray told BBC News in 2020 that the decision not to go to London with Ramsay was a "regret" he constantly thinks about, and life after his win did not pan out smoothly. 

Wray would get the opportunity to open up a restaurant in Los Angeles, but sadly, his daughter died due to "complications at birth," and the eatery closed just six weeks after welcoming its first customers. Wray's addiction to painkillers was also taking control of his life. He even broke into a pharmacy to steal prescription pills and eventually ended up homeless. "It was all starting to crumble around me," he said. Thankfully, after waking up in a hospital, he entered into rehab and got his life back on track, stating, "I spent the next three to four years getting back to the ability where I could call myself a chef. I started the whole process again."

In a 2019 interview with Spectrum News 1, Wray revealed that he worked at the Pinehouse Cafe and Tavern in Mt. Laguna, California, after getting clean. However, his dream is to own a food van, for which he started a GoFundMe page in 2018. "To me, as a chef, it seems like the ultimate expression of our art – to be able to go anywhere and cook anything," he told BBC News. 

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Heather West

Heather West stood out as a leader among her competitors on Season 2 of "Hell's Kitchen," winning the grand prize of becoming head chef at Terra Rossa at the Red Rock Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, and a salary of $250,000. The Port Jefferson, New York, sous chef went on to become a senior chef — not head chef — at the restaurant and only stayed for a year, per Reality Blurred.

After working for Gordon Ramsay in Las Vegas, LI Herald reported that West moved around a whopping 17 times. Some of her temporary residences were in Seattle and Los Angeles, but she ultimately came back home to New York. She shared at the time, "I wanted to be near my family. My family is really important to me." West began working in several restaurants in Long Island, New York, and became executive chef at Monterey's, Jellyfish restaurant, and Thatched Cottage. In 2014, she was announced as the new executive chef at Schafer's in her hometown of Port Jefferson, telling Newsday of her commute, "Even in the ice it took me a minute and a half to get home."

Besides her passion for cooking, West is the co-founder of the non-profit organization East End Play Dates, which is described on Instagram as "two moms hosting free playdates every week to help moms face PPD & get out of the house." West also returned to "Hell's Kitchen" as the red team's sous chef for Season 6, per Reality TV Revisited.

Rahman 'Rock' Harper

Rahman "Rock" Harper came onto Season 3 of "Hell's Kitchen" as an executive chef from Washington, D.C., and used his skills and talents to win the series. He went on to become head chef at Green Valley Ranch Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada, and he also scored a $250,000 salary. Gordon Ramsay described Harper as a "confident cook" who "has become a really good leader." 

According to Harper's LinkedIn, the chef worked for Ramsay for only one year, but soon after, became executive chef for Ben's Next Door in Washington, D.C., in 2008. He would go on to work at several restaurants in the D.C. area and even became a chef instructor at Stratford University. In 2010, Harper used his passion for cooking to write a book titled, "44 Things Parents Should Know about Healthy Cooking for Kids." Since his win, Harper has also launched a podcast called "The Chef Rock Xperiment," which gives listeners an inside look at the restaurant business, and he's opened a fried chicken restaurant called Queen Mother's Fried Chicken in D.C.

Speaking to Mashed, Harper shared that he believed opening up his fried chicken spot "made perfect sense" because the food was one of his "signature dishes" on "Hell's Kitchen." He added, "I love frying chicken, I think I'm the best at it anywhere, and chicken sandwiches are really hot right now." In addition to talking up his famous fried chicken, Harper mentioned that he might be making his way back on television. 

Christina Machamer

Christina Machamer came out on top on Season 4 of "Hell's Kitchen," which meant that she was supposed to become executive chef at Gordon Ramsay's restaurant located inside The London West Hollywood in Los Angeles, California. But because she was a student in culinary school, her prize job was downgraded to senior chef, per Eater Los Angeles. In Season 4, Episode 15, Ramsay shared when announcing Mahamer as the winner, "Christina has the least amount of experience coming into Hell's Kitchen, but I saw something in her that was quite special."

Machamer worked at Ramsay's restaurant for only 10 months before going back to school to become a sommelier, studying at the Master Court of Sommeliers in London, per Frank Family Vineyards. Afterward, she moved to Napa Valley, where she found a passion for fine wine and created her own company called Napa Valley Experiences, as well as a personal chef business called Chef CMac. She shared (via Parade), "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."

When asked by Frank Family Vineyards about the "most valuable skill" she took away from being on "Hell's Kitchen," Machamer shared, "I learned how to plate food. I know that sounds simple, but there is an art and a technique, and it was built (or beaten) into me."

Danny Veltri

Florida native Danny Veltri called himself a "culinary prodigy" on the final episode of Season 5 of "Hell's Kitchen" and proved that he was the best chef on the series when he won the competition with a prize that included the head chef job at Fornelletto at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City and $250,000. However, the Orlando Sentinel reported that Veltri did not receive the head chef position and instead was given a sous chef position at the restaurant, where he worked for just a few months.

Missing the warm and sunny weather back home, Veltri returned to Florida after his stint at the Borgata and landed the position of chef at the Gnarly Surf Bar & Grill in New Smyrna Beach. Things took a turn for the worse when he was arrested in 2012 for driving under the influence after police found him "intoxicated and in control" of his vehicle at a gas station at around 4 in the morning, per TMZ. However, the "Hell's Kitchen" winner got his life back on track and became head chef of Salt Life Food Shack, which has three locations in Florida. 

Speaking about the restaurant and how he took part in creating the menu, he shared (via Parade), "Our culture reflects anything to do with the ocean, from surfing, diving, spearfishing or paddle boarding and beyond." In 2020, Salt Life Food Shack was named one of Jacksonville's "Top 50 Restaurants" by Jacksonville Magazine.

Dave Levey

New Jersey native Dave Levey earned the nickname the "one-armed bandit" by Gordon Ramsay after fracturing his wrist on Season 6 of "Hell's Kitchen." Despite this setback, Levey continued to fight for the top spot, which eventually paid off when he was named the winner of the series. Ramsay said on the show, "Dave has a very natural ability and a very sophisticated palate. He fought through excruciating pain and excelled and went on to win 'Hell's Kitchen.'"

Levey's win consisted of a head chef position at Araxi Restaurant & Bar in Whistler, British Columbia, and a $250,000 prize. However, he learned that he was basically going to work as a line cook there, per Restaurant Hospitality, and he eventually moved on. In 2009, he returned to the New Jersey restaurant II Giardino '86, which he had previously worked at before winning the show, per NJ.com

In 2014, Levey was arrested during a drug bust in New Jersey and was "charged with being under the influence of a controlled dangerous substance," but he was released on bail. According to NorthJersey.com, he landed a job as the lead baker at Mara's Café & Bakery in Denville, New Jersey, in 2013 and was still working there as of 2019.

Holli Ugalde

When Holli Ugalde learned that she won Season 7 of "Hell's Kitchen," her prize consisted of $250,000 and the opportunity of a lifetime: the head chef position at Gordon Ramsay's prestigious Savoy Grill in London. However, Ugalde never got to pack her bags to go to London after it was reported that she was refused a U.K. work permit.

Per Daily Mail, Ugalde felt "extremely disappointed" and "a little betrayed" when she learned that she was not going to London. The chef claimed that the show had "two years" to help her file the appropriate paperwork so that if she did win, there would be no issue with her working at the restaurant. But by the time she was informed by FOX that she was "not going," she already felt cheated out of the position. She had learned beforehand that she would not be head chef after all and would have to take a lower position, calling it "false advertising."

Ugalde got another opportunity to work abroad in 2011 when she began filming a travel/cooking web series in Portugal, per Wine Pleasures. Since then, she's been a spokesperson for Le Cordon Bleu and become an organic farmer. Her LinkedIn profile notes that she is the President of Intelligent Lighting Systems Inc., and in 2021, she developed the SENS Wellness Program, which is a membership program that helps people find balance in their lives. Its name is "an acronym for Sleep, Exercise, Nutrition, and Stress."

Nona Johnson

Georgia native Nona Johnson's win on Season 8 of "Hell's Kitchen" earned her the head chef position at LA Market in Los Angeles, California. Leaving the South for the celebrity-filled city, she shared (via LA Weekly), "I'd like to introduce L.A. to the South a little. I'd like to let them know what grits are really about." She continued working in the L.A. area until returning to her home state. There, she and her wife opened their own catering company, The Local Peach, which caters for weddings, corporate events, and social events. Naturally, Johnson is the business' executive chef. Due to the pandemic, they expanded their services to offer meal kits, gift boxes, hot meals to go, and more.  

According to Parade, Johnson also started working on a specialty grocery store in Georgia that will work with local farmers to sell their organic foods. She shared, "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."

Johnson told Mashed that what she took away from her experience on "Hell's Kitchen" was an "increase in my own standards and how I bring that into my kitchens," adding that the show "gave [her] the confidence that [she] needed."

Paul Niedermann

Growing up with two parents who loved to cook, contestant Paul Niedermann of Season 9 of "Hell's Kitchen" was born to be a chef. Niedermann made it to the end of the competition and was crowned winner of the show, taking home $250,000 and the head chef position at BLT Steak in New York City. We're guessing he also earned a third prize: making his mom and dad proud. 

Niedermann's career as a chef took him all across the country, but he eventually decided to leave BLT and go back home to Florida, where he began working as a chef for Salt7 in Delray Beach. According to his biography on the restaurant's website, Niedermann thinks of the "Hell's Kitchen" as "not just a highlight but something that really set my career in a path I never could've imagined."

In 2021, Niedermann opened a second Salt7 location in Ft. Lauderdale and told 7 News Miami that the "modern American eatery" would serve "high-end steaks and seafood." He added that his dishes are "a little lighter due to the fact that we are always in the heat, and I like to add a little bit of citrus notes to things that may necessarily not have them." For patrons of his Ft. Lauderdale location looking for a little more fun, the restaurant transforms into a nightclub when the sun goes down.  

Christina Wilson

Chef de Cuisine Christina Wilson's life changed forever when she won Season 10 of "Hell's Kitchen" and was awarded the head chef position at Gordon Ramsay Steak inside Paris Las Vegas. Ramsay praised the New Jersey native after she was announced as the winner, stating, "Christina's passion and talent are undeniable. She's a strong leader who is totally at home in the kitchen. I know I'm not rolling the dice with her in Vegas."

Wilson proved that she could lead a kitchen in Vegas and worked at Gordon Ramsay Steak for over a year. However, her time with the celebrity chef wasn't over: She earned an executive chef position at Gordon Ramsay BurGR at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas. Wilson shared (via Cuisineist), "This is another incredible opportunity for me to grow my career, I will be one of three female executive chefs working in Chef Ramsay's kitchens in the U.S." In 2015, Wilson was named Culinary Director for Gordon Ramsay Restaurants, and in 2020, her career advanced even further when she became Vice President of Culinary, per LinkedIn.

According to Today, Wilson used her $250,000 prize from "Hell's Kitchen" to purchase the Philadelphia home she was renting. Chef Ramsay, whose wealth makes him no stranger to having large amounts of money to spend on home decor, surprised Wilson by giving her home a complete makeover on his show "My Houzz." He said of Wilson, "[She] is one of the most endearing, humble chefs I've ever met, and she puts herself last."

Ja'Nel Witt

Ja'Nel Witt had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity when she got the chance to compete on Season 11 of "Hell's Kitchen," and she proved her worth by winning the competition. Witt's prizes consisted of $250,000 and a head chef position at Gordon Ramsay's Pub & Grill at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada, but she would get the job taken away from her after failing a drug test. 

According to TMZ, Caesar's Palace has a "strict drug policy," so because Witt tested positive for cocaine before she started working there, she never got a chance to prove herself as head chef. Despite losing out on the position, Witt was still able to keep her cash winnings. TMZ also spoke to Ramsay about the incident, with the chef stating, "I hope she sorts out her personal issues, and my door is always open."

While Witt could not work at Ramsay's restaurant, the Houston Chronicle did note that she stayed employed as a private chef and had started working on a cookbook. Then, in 2014, she earned an executive chef position at Corner Table in Houston, Texas. "It's been a lot of pressure, but I work well under pressure. It just pushes me to do my best," she shared at the time. As of this writing, Corner Table is permanently closed. According to Witt's Instagram page, she has kept busy working in several restaurants in the Texas area, including Sonoma Wine Bar & Restaurant in Houston. 

Scott Commings

Chef Gordon Ramsay called Season 12 "Hell's Kitchen" contestant Scott Commings "passionate, determined, and a true leader" when explaining why he chose the Wisconsin native to win the competition. Commings would become head chef at Ramsay's Pub & Grill at Ceasar's Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada, and he would use his newfound career to grow within the culinary world in Vegas. 

According to his LinkedIn profile, after working at Ceasar's Palace, Commings became the executive chef of Freedom Beat at The Downtown Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas in 2016. He also co-founded the companies BLT Foods Las Vegas and Established Culinary Management (ECM). According to Hospitality Alliance, where Commings is a culinary director, ECM is "a culinary management company, creating concepts and designs."

As of 2020, Commings was working as the executive chef at Lake Las Vegas. In a video for the resort, he shared that what he enjoys the most is seeing people coming together. "My whole thing about dining is really about creating community," he said. "The chef appears to be doing well in his career, all thanks to "Hell's Kitchen." 

La Tasha McCutchen

La Tasha McCutchen came into Season 13 of "Hells' Kitchen" as a true leader, and her cooking skills impressed Chef Gordon Ramsay — she won the competition and would go on to become head chef of Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Before McCutchen was named as the winner, Ramsay said, "La Tasha, you were rock solid, and it was no surprise that you were the only person never to be put up for elimination. Young lady, you belong in the kitchen."

Reality TV Revisited reported that McCutchen worked at Ramsay's restaurant for a year, and according to her LinkedIn page, she started her own private chef business called Entertaining with Chef Tasha Mac in 2016. She proudly shows off her delicious-looking dishes on her Instagram page.  

In August 2021, McCutchen lent her expertise in the kitchen to help Lake City, South Carolina, students during their culinary arts summer orientation program. Student Jada Rodinson told WBTW News 13 of the "Hell's Kitchen" winner, "To say that she went to 'Hell's Kitchen' with one of the top chefs, Gordon Ramsay, and for her to be able to teach us how to cook is an amazing opportunity for us." 

Meghan Gill

Meghan Gill went into Season 14 of "Hell's Kitchen" with a lot of knowledge about working in a kitchen and what it takes to be a top chef. Before becoming a contestant on the show, she attended L'Academie de Cuisine, where she studied French cooking techniques, and she got hired at a top-five restaurant in the Washington, D.C., area, per Dormie Network. Ahead of the announcement that she'd won "Hell's Kitchen," Ramsay told Gill that she was "born for the kitchen."

Gill became head chef for Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and told Mashed, "So I started on like the busiest day of the year, 4th of July, and I was like, 'What's happening right now?”" But while the job was hectic and stressful at times, it was also rewarding. "I pulled so much from that experience, and they were just really crazy experiences," Gill continued. "You're in Atlantic City, number one. You're in a casino. And then, you're working for Gordon, and it's the most popular restaurant on the strip."

In 2019, Gill took an executive chef position at the Dormie Network, a national network of premier golf courses, and said about her new gig, "I tell my mom all the time that this is the best job I've ever had. I'm being trusted to do what I do best, and it's been a lot of fun." However, she did share with Mashed that she wouldn't be opposed to one day owning a food truck!

Ariel Malone

Before she won Season 15 of "Hell's Kitchen," Gordon Ramsay would say of Ariel Malone, "Your creativity and your attention to detail has been second to none." For her prize, Malone was awarded the head chef position at BLT Steak at Bally's Las Vegas, Nevada. 

Malone was not head chef for long, with Eater Las Vegas reporting that she left the position in January 2017. A hostess at the restaurant stated, "She got a really big offer she couldn't refuse." According to her Instagram, Malone was working as a private chef as of late 2021, and her social media page is filled with photos of her dishes and her three children. In one photo, she "reintroduce[s]" herself as a Los Angeles-based chef and adds, "Ready to walk you through my new journey of life, sharing our holistic and healthy lifestyle that I have built for me and my children as it relates to food, spirituality and traveling."

Parade noted that besides working as a private chef, Malone has dreams of owning a farm with a bed and breakfast. Her social media also states that she is a coach and doula. "Not only am I an award-winning chef, but I have also taken it upon myself to become certified as a doula by the best in the business," reads one of her posts. "With this, I provide nutrition for moms who are experiencing infertility, needing guidance during pregnancy, and postpartum needs."

Kimberly-Ann Ryan

After winning Season 16 of "Hell's Kitchen," chef Kimberly-Ann Ryan knew in her heart that she would find her true calling cooking back home in Traverse City, Michigan. But, before she would return to her home state, Ryan took the head chef position at Yardbird Southern Table & Bar at The Venetian in Las Vegas, Nevada, for some time. 

The Glen Arbor Sun reported that since winning the reality television competition, Ryan has started her own business, Lucky Cook Catering, in Michigan. To promote it, she's posted several photos of her delicious meals on her Instagram page. According to the outlet, the chef also teamed up with four former "Hell's Kitchen" contestants to create a special dining experience at the Willowbrook Mill in Northport, Michigan.

In a November 2020 Instagram post, Ryan revealed that she had spent time in "a Vegas psych ward" after a failed suicide attempt in 2017, the same year her "Hell's Kitchen" finale aired. "Today also marks 9 whole months of sobriety," she wrote, adding that she's "grateful" to be alive. Earlier that year, she shared on Twitter that she had become "insanely sick" after contracting the coronavirus," adding, "I now have full blown asthma ... I've had 3 heart procedures, and whenever I feel 'better,' a new curveball is thrown in my way." Despite her scary situation in 2020, Ryan appears to be back in the kitchen and cooking up a storm.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). 

Michelle Tribble

Chef Gordon Ramsay changed things up when he introduced Season 17 as an all-star edition of "Hell's Kitchen" that saw past contestants getting a second chance at becoming a head chef at one of his restaurants. Michelle Tribble was a part of Season 14, where she placed third, but when she gave the show another shot, she came out on top, proving that she's a seriously talented chef. 

Tribble was awarded a head chef position at Hell's Kitchen at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada, however, after working there for over two years, Parade reported that she got furloughed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of finding work in the meantime, Tribble returned to school "to complete her post-baccalaureate degree in nutrition" and obtain a Master of Science in Nutrition, per Texas Woman's University. She shared at the time, "Although I love cooking, the restaurant industry is full of negative health implications, both physical and mental. I myself have struggled with good food practices, and I find more satisfaction using food in a healthy way and focusing on bettering my health and others as well."

However, in April 2021, Tribble announced on Instagram that she would be working for Ramsay again. Sharing a selfie in a chef's coat, she captioned it, "I'm excited to once again be working with the GR family! Thanks to @chefchristinawilson for always being in my corner and placing faith in my abilities to fulfill the role of Culinary Development Executive Chef."

Ariel Contreras-Fox

Ariel Contreras-Fox was given another chance to prove she was worthy of a head chef position at one of Gordon Ramsay's restaurants when she was featured on Season 18 of "Hell's Kitchen," which pitted veterans from past seasons against rookies. Contreras-Fox placed third on Season 6 of the show, but came back and conquered, winning an executive position at Gordon Ramsay's Hell's Kitchen Restaurant at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada. 

Surprisingly, Hollywood Life reported that Contreras-Fox turned down the executive position in Las Vegas to work back home in New York City, where she became the Concept Executive Chef of the popular restaurant Dos Caminos. "This show has awarded me so many opportunities and a lot of visibility," she told the outlet, adding, "I think I've proven myself and I'm someone who knows what they're doing." Since then, the chef's Facebook page states that she's served as "Vice President at Del Frisco's Double Eagle, Del Frisco's Grille, and Dos Caminos."

Besides keeping busy in the kitchen, Contreras-Fox is also an author. In 2020, she came out with a children's book titled, "Freckle-Faced Foodie: Journey of a Young Chef." She also returned to television, where she made a guest-judge appearance on Food Network's "Beat Bobby Flay." 

Kori Sutton

Chef Kori Sutton came out victorious when she competed on Season 19 of "Hell's Kitchen." After announcing the winner, Gordon Ramsay said of Sutton, "Kori is everything I could want in a chef. She's decisive, level-headed, and most importantly, passionate. From the moment she stepped into 'Hell's Kitchen,' she was an instinctual and natural-born leader."

Sutton's prize consisted of a head chef position at Hell's Kitchen Lake Tahoe in Las Vegas, Nevada, but as of this writing, her LinkedIn states that she is a private chef with her own company, Chef Kori Sutton LLC. Speaking about what came next in her life after she won "Hell's Kitchen," Sutton told Mashed, "I've actually taken a little bit of time off. I work as a private chef here in LA, doing some work-in-home cheffing, but I'm taking a little bit of time. I'm actually starting to launch myself a salsa company, which will launch on September 15th. So, I'm working on that right now, to kind of focus on me and my brand." As of this writing, Sutton's salsa brand, Mama Kori Salsa, has a website and is still in the works. 

Before her big reality TV victory, Sutton appeared on "Top Chef Mexico" and was a competitor on "Cutthroat Kitchen." In 2021, she got to return to her original home, Puerto Vallarta, to cook at the Festival Gourmet International event