Gordon Ramsay says Hell’s Kitchen winners “need to have a mentor”

Reality TV competitions have a long history of not actually awarding their announced prize to the winner, for reasons that vary from post-show taxes (no Survivor winner ends up being a millionaire, unless they don’t pay their taxes) to misleading promises qualified by fine print (America’s Got Talent gives its $1 million over 40 years).

For The Daily Beast, I examined what 20 reality shows actually give as their prizes versus what they say they’ll give. Some offer what they say they will. Others don’t. Some, like The Bachelor, thrive even though their prize is a joke.

Hell’s Kitchen has a history of failing to give out is prizes and, for the story, I asked Gordon Ramsay a few questions via e.mail (through Fox) including whether or not his expectations for the chefs change when he’s hiring someone to work in one of his own restaurants; this season, the winner will get a job at his Savoy Grill in London. “No of course not, my reputation is on the line when choosing a Hell’s Kitchen winner, so either way they need to be bloody good,” Ramsay said.

Ramsay told me that this season’s “winner will be in the kitchen during its opening months working alongside Head Chef Andy Cook,” and said that having the winner be mentored–i.e. not automatically elevated to executive chef–is to be expected. “[Y]ou can’t take someone and put them in an unfamiliar restaurant and expect them to exceed [sic], they need to have a mentor and work alongside an executive chef. The executive chefs at our prize restaurants are always amazing and the winner has an amazing opportunity to learn from the best,” he wrote.

Reality TV Prizes [The Daily Beast]

The Sing-Off loses its star

Ben Folds

NBC's super-fun December a capella singing competition The Sing-Off is returning, but without its star judge, Ben Folds, and only as a two-hour special. Those are really depressing changes for a series that proved itself to be a super-fun show when it returned last December.


A film director talks about becoming a reality TV character

Anna Martemucci

What is it like to have your life turned into reality TV? Director Anna Martemucci, one of the two directors featured on Starz' exceptional reality series, talks about that, the competition, and her collaboration with her husband and brother-in-law.

Plus: How the show's producers tried to keep the $250,000 competition fair.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.