Hell’s Kitchen winner gets “misleading” prize (again), but will work under Top Chef’s Cliff

For the ninth season of Fox’s Hell’s Kitchen, which debuts July 18, announced prize is “a head chef position at BLT Steak in New York City. Once again, that prize isn’t exactly what the winner will receive, because it will actually be giving its winner a position in a kitchen working under another chef, Top Chef contestant Cliff Crooks, who was disqualified during season two because of the conflict with Marcel.

The series has a long history of not actually offering its announced prize, and when it comes to giving winners jobs as line cooks or, at best, apprentices, Gordon Ramsay told me last summer that’s because winners “need to have a mentor” and therefore end up in positions that are less significant than the show advertises.

But The New York Post reports that the show is “misleading the show’s eventual winner” because that term “head chef” is “is almost meaningless in professional kitchens — and the position does not even exist at BLT Steak,” because “the highest-ranking chef is called the ‘executive chef,’ while his or her top lieutenant is called the ‘sous chef.'”

The managing partner of the restaurant’s owner, ESquared Hospitality’s Jimmy Haber, told the paper, “The winner will be the chef de cuisine under Cliff [Crooks]” at the restaurant. Cliff left the Bravo competition in fifth place because he restrained Marcel while he and his fellow chefs attempted to shave Marcel’s head. The Post says Cliff now has an “impressive resume and general good nature.”

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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.