Here’s What the Winner of Each Season of “Hell’s Kitchen” Is Doing Now

published Jan 31, 2024
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Hell's Kitchen previous winners: Megan Gill, Kimberly Ryan, and Ariel Malone
Credit: Courtesy of Fox Media

Just being a contestant on Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen is one of the highest honors any up-and-coming chef can hope for while on their culinary journey. Sure, working under Ramsay is an HR nightmare in and of itself, but that’s really just part of his Scottish charm. The award-winning chef is quite literally the saying about needing pressure to make diamonds personified, and those talented few who can suffer the heat of Ramsay’s kitchen are rewarded tenfold in the long run.   

Now in its 22nd season, Hell’s Kitchen has seen hundreds of hopeful contestants with over 20 winners during the show’s longstanding network tenure. The series offers a platform for aspiring chefs of all ages and backgrounds to showcase their talents in hopes of winning the opportunity to work as the executive chef of a restaurant of Ramsay’s choosing. In addition to the glory of being crowned winner of Hell’s Kitchen, each season’s champion also collects a sweet $250,000 cash prize. 

As season 22 approaches its final episodes to crown yet another winner, here’s a list of all the past winners and what they have been up to since winning. 

Michael Wray — Season 1

The inaugural season of Hell’s Kitchen aired on May 30, 2005, and aimed to set the tone for what viewers should expect from the subsequent episodes. Michael Wray was the first chef to prove he had what it takes to win Hell’s Kitchen, and at the time of winning, it was clear that a bright future was waiting just ahead of him.

Despite developing an addiction to painkillers before his appearance on Hell’s Kitchen, Wray worked hard to be what he called a “functioning addict” and still nabbed himself a spot on Ramsay’s new show. The cause of his addiction would be credited to a bad back surgery, and Wray would continue to battle with his vices long after experiencing success on the show. 

Wray famously turned down a job offer to be mentored by Gordon Ramsay in London, and would go on to be head chef at The Standard restaurant in Los Angeles instead. Wray eventually opened his own restaurant, Tatou, and experienced so much success that he began developing another restaurant called HK One. 

Unfortunately, after his daughter passed away during childbirth, Wray continued to struggle with his addictions and found himself divorced and living out of his truck, working odd kitchen jobs to survive. It wouldn’t be until several years later that Wray finally started down the road to recovery. He is now remarried and living happily with his wife in San Diego, California.

Heather West — Season 2

During season 2, viewers witnessed Heather West go up against some of the toughest competitors to date, including runner up Virginia Dalbeck. West proved her dominance in the kitchen and eventually impressed Ramsay enough to win it all. 

After winning the show, West worked as the senior chef at Terra Rossa at the Red Rock Resort and Spa in Las Vegas for a year while enjoying the $250,000 salary that came along with the gig. West found herself bouncing around a few different cities in the following years, making stops in Washington, North Carolina, and California before settling in Port Jefferson, New York. 

These days West lives a quiet life with her family. She works as a digital creator, chef, and mother and even serves as an ambassador for Drip Drop. Her Hell’s Kitchen days may be far behind her, but her love for life and cooking is still alive and well and on full display throughout her personal social media

Rahman “Rock” Harper — Season 3

From the start of the season, “Rock” Harper was the fan-favorite contestant as well as one of the most beloved and talented chefs to ever grace the Hell’s Kitchen stage. Harper shined as a leader and motivator (he had his culinary degree from Johnson & Wales University and background as an executive chef to thank for that). Despite Harper’s tendency to let his emotions get the best of him, it was his level head and unarguable talent that secured him the prize money and ultimately the role of executive chef at Terra Verde. 

After his contract was up with Terra Verde, Harper became executive chef at Ben’s Next Door, a stylish, family-owned restaurant and bar that specializes in comfort food, located in Washington, D.C.. He would go on to work a few other restaurant gigs and began working as an instructor at Stratford University. Harper has since published a book titled 44 Things Parents Should Know About Healthy Cooking for Kids, and served as the National Celebrity Chef for the March of Dimes since 2008. 

Today, Harper is just as active as he ever was. The James Beard Award nominee and owner of Queen Mother’s kitchen and Hill Prince Bar is a successful restaurateur, podcast host, and author who truly does what he loves for a living. Harper has made multiple television appearances since season 3, including eight repeat appearances on Hell’s Kitchen. He was a clear winner from the start and has continued to live his life accordingly. 

Christina Machamer — Season 4

It came down to Christina Machamer and Louis Petrozza back in 2008 and it was Machamer’s hospitable touch and dedication to the craft that would ultimately earn herself the title. Despite her victory causing an upset with some fans, Machamer grew with her successes and carried that winning momentum over into the world of hospitality. 

These days Machamer holds events celebrating women from the culinary and hospitality world. The invite-only, private mentorship luncheon doubles as an elegant food and wine pairing experience and takes place in Napa Valley, CA. Machamer shares a lot of what she’s up to online, posting beautifully plated dinners, barbecued meats, and daring desserts along with her professional endeavors.  

Danny Veltri — Season 5

Danny Veltri won it all during season 5, however he ended up not getting the full prize. Like the winners before him, Veltri pocketed his $250,000 upon winning, but the excitement quickly wore off once he realized that he was not being offered the position of head chef at Fornelletto at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa. Instead, Veltri was offered the position of sous chef, to which he decided to only accept and stay on staff for a few months.

Veltri would go on to start his own catering company as well as help open a beachside restaurant called Gnarly Surf Bar & Grill before finally landing himself a position as the executive chef at Vince Carter’s Restaurant in Daytona Beach, Florida. The Florida native now works as the head chef of Salt Life Food Shack, a homegrown company out of Jacksonville Beach that has three locations in Fernandina Beach, Jacksonville Beach, and St. Augustine, FL. 

Dave Levey — Season 6

Dave Levey was not only victorious during season 6, but he also immediately set himself apart from the pack by being charismatic and confident in his craft. The multitalented chef fractured his wrist while competing on the show and still impressed his peers and Ramsay by not letting the hand he was dealt slow him down. Nicknamed the “one-armed bandit,” Levey ultimately won the title and set the tone for the rest of his career. 

Upon winning Hell’s Kitchen, Levey headed to Whistler, British Columbia, in 2009 to accept his position as head chef at Araxi Restaurant & Bar. The extremely posh establishment was well-known in the ski community and would be hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics. Unfortunately, upon arrival Levey was offered a line cook position instead, and he would eventually leave his role at Araxi altogether. 

Today Levey lives a humble life as a chef and baker. Through social media, Levey has shared some of his recent work in New Jersey helping out at various restaurants in the area. 

Holli Ugalde — Season 7

After showing the rest of her peers what she was made of in season 7, Holli Ugalde fully intended to head to London’s prestigious Savoy Grill to accept her position. However, there seemed to have been trouble with her visa, to which Ugalde claims she never even received the paperwork for, and she ultimately had to settle with the prize money. Ugalde then decided to pursue her passion further by accepting a position as executive chef at B Ocean’s in Florida

These days, Ugalde stays very busy. After she left B Ocean’s, the season 7 winner began designing her own lifestyle wellness program. She now keeps a fairly low-profile social media presence and describes herself as a farmer, chef, philanthropist, educator, and entrepreneur. According to her LinkedIn profile, Ugalde has since worked as an organic farmer at Green Acres Culinary Farm, a design manager at Beaumont Electric, and as a business owner of a lighting company. The chef has also acted as a spokesperson for Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, her alma mater.

Nona Sivley — Season 8

Nona Sivley was just 29 years old when she won the top honors on season 8 of Hell’s Kitchen. The aspiring chef took her winnings and went on to start working at the LA Market in Los Angeles. Quoted as wanting to “introduce LA to the South,” Sivley spent years working at the LA Market before moving over to Las Vegas to work at Pork & Beans

Now going by the name Nona Johnson, the talented chef has made a name for herself in the culinary industry and even opened her own company called Sizzling Peach with her wife. Through the company’s Instagram, the brand is marketed as a “luxury catering service” that promises to give customers insight into healthy and wholesome food options. There are also rumors that the couple will be working on a specialty grocery store in Norcross, Georgia, that will focus on sustainability and implementing a zero-waste model to give farmers and vendors the chance to expand and grow on their own. 

Paul Niedermann — Season 9 

Paul Niedermann stole the show in season 9; his passion for the craft and unending dedication were the deciding factors in his victory. After taking it all and dedicating his win to his mother who had passed away prior to the show, Niedermann would go on to work at BLT Steak, but was also not given the role of head chef. He would eventually leave for an establishment that could offer him the position he wanted, and found his way to Hudson at Waterway East as executive chef. Niedermann would then move to Racks Restaurant Management Group, retaining his position as executive chef. 

Today, Niedermann has returned to his home base of Florida where he is the executive chef at SALT7, a modern American restaurant in Delray Beach, and The Jupiter Grill, a coastal grill and dining experience in Jupiter, FL.

Christina Wilson — Season 10

Considered by many to be the best chef to come out of the Hell’s Kitchen universe, and basically Gordan Ramsay’s right-hand woman, Wilson was a very polarizing character in season 10. Her victory was just the start of an incredible career that all started with being the head chef at Ramsay’s Steak at the Paris Las Vegas and a $250,000 salary. Wilson has since been promoted on multiple occasions, and is now the vice president of culinary for Gordon Ramsay North America where she oversees chefs in 13 different restaurants around the country.  

Wilson returned as sous chef for the red team on Season 15, and has since returned for the same position each season, since Season 17. Most recently, Wilson celebrated the 10-year anniversary of launching her career with Hell’s Kitchen. She shared a selfie post with Ramsay by her side to her Instagram and expressed the meaning of being in her home state, opening the first East Coast Hell’s Kitchen at Caesars Atlantic City

Ja’Nel Witt — Season 11

Ja’Nel Witt competed in the first Hell’s Kitchen season to start with 20 contestants, rather than 18. In a season that saw a handful of front-runners, Ja’Nels talent and skill set helped secure her the win along with the respect of Gordon Ramsay. Ja’Nel did happen to flub her eligibility to take on the role of head chef at Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill in Caesars Palace; she failed a drug test and ultimately the offer was rescinded.

Still, with her $250,000 prize money in hand, Witt was no longer head chef but she was free to move on to work as a chef for Sonoma, a restaurant and wine bar in Houston, Texas. The season 11 winner also started a business as a private chef, acquiring a big list of clients during the height of the pandemic in 2020. One peek at her personal Instagram and it is obvious that Ja’Nel still has a strong passion for food, as shown by the dozens of photos of delicious-looking dishes, and living her life to the fullest. She now works as an executive chef and consultant, helping budding restaurateurs with menu development, training, and kitchen design. 

Scott Commings — Season 12

Season 12 saw Scott Commings facing elimination on multiple occasions, but the Illinois native’s motivation and leadership qualities helped save him every time. Ramsay even complimented Commings’ palate and plating skills, along with his passion for the craft.

After winning the competition and completing his role as the head chef of Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill at Caesars Palace, Commings worked as an executive chef for Freedom Beat at the Downtown Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. Commings has since served as the culinary director at the Hospitality Alliance, where he was involved in a number of culinary projects. His LinkedIn has him listed as the executive chef for Freedom Beat and Lake Las Vegas, but his Instagram shows him as being involved with The Daily Bread Las Vegas and Vino Las Vegas.

La Tasha McCutchen — Season 13

In a season that saw producers attempting to do some necessary revamping of the show, La Tasha McCutchen showed through her strong leadership skills, adaptability, and determination that she had what it took to win the title. The Salt Lake City native rightfully assumed her role as head chef at Gordon Ramsay’s Pub & Grill in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and still shares her food adventures to her personal Instagram to this day. 

After leaving Gordon Ramsay’s Pub & Grill, McCutchen became an executive chef and owner of her own private catering company, Entertaining with Chef Tasha Mac. Through her company, McCutchen produces pop-up dining events and cooking demonstrations for a wide range of clientele. 

Meghan Gill — Season 14

Another fan-favorite season, season 14 saw a full cast of some pretty iconic chefs, with Meghan Gill going home with the ultimate bragging rights. Gill has since admitted that she felt stretched far and was pushed to “adapt and overcome so many fears, from pulling crabs out of the ocean to jumping off a roof to just being in the kitchen with Gordon.” Gill’s appreciation and gratitude showed through her work and she credited Hell’s Kitchen for giving her the opportunity to work with the Gordon Group at Caesars in Atlantic City, citing the incredibly life-changing learning opportunities and exposure.

These days, Gill is the executive chef of a nationwide network of private golf clubhouses known as the Dormie Network. The company operates as a way to steer the culture of golf clubhouses, including clubhouse food where Gill implements classic techniques with a modern flair. Her new role allows her to use the network of chefs she has built through her experiences post-Hell’s Kitchen to do what she does best: create innovative dishes. 

Ariel Malone — Season 15

Season 15 saw Ariel Malone rise to the occasion and take home the victory, with the reward and a $250,000 a year salary in hand. Malone took on the position of head chef at BLT Steak at Bally’s Las Vegas, if only briefly, before leaving unexpectedly due to a so-called “offer that couldn’t be refused.” 

Malone is a Teaneck, NJ, native and has no training besides her 10 years of working in country club kitchens prior to joining the contestants on season 15. While at BLT Steak, Malone was in charge of the blackboard specials where her creativity and attention to detail had a real chance to shine. As of recently, Ariel Malone works as a private chef and lives a happy life as a mother of three, including twin girls. She runs a bespoke culinary experience called Three Little Birds Kitchen and documents her dishes and live cooking demonstrations online.

Kimberly-Ann Ryan — Season 16

Known for making the most of the opportunity given to her, Kimberly-Ann Ryan surprised viewers when she claimed the victory in season 16. But her unwillingness to give up and her sharp culinary mind brought her to ultimate glory. Originally from Traverse City, Michigan, Ryan worked as an event chef before joining Hell’s Kitchen while raising children as a single mother who worked hard to become good enough to compete on the show. 

Ryan worked as head chef at Yardbird Southern Table & Bar at The Venetian in Las Vegas, all the while sharing her cooking and life experiences through regular updates for her fans. Most recently it has been rumored that Ryan worked at The Cook’s House in Traverse City, a locally famous restaurant that exclusively uses locally grown and foraged foods. Guests can enjoy a 26-seat dining room complete with white linen-covered tables and fine crystal dishware paired with a very casual dress code. 

Michelle Tribble — Season 17

After winning her season of Hell’s Kitchen, Michelle Tribble spent 2 1/2 years as head chef at the famous Hell’s Kitchen restaurant at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas. Tribble proved to be consistent with her talent, and upon winning the competition Gordon Ramsay noted that her winning at such a young age was a testament to her natural talent. 

During the height of COVID-19, Tribble left her position with Hell’s Kitchen at Caesars Palace after being furloughed during the pandemic. Tribble now lives in Dallas, TX, and works as the director of culinary development for Gordon Ramsay North America while also sustaining her unending love for the culinary arts. She has also served as a guest chef at the Memphis Food & Wine Festival.

Ariel Contreras-Fox — Season 18

Ariel Contreras-Fox had a leg up on the competition in season 18 due to her previous appearance as a contestant in season 6. As a Hell’s Kitchen veteran, Contreras-Fox already knew the recipe for success and ultimately relied on her skill set and experience honing her craft in New York City to do all of the work for her. After famously turning down the prize of working as the executive chef at Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen Restaurant at Caesars Palace, the chef decided to work closer to home, returning to Brooklyn, NY, and her gig at the popular Mexican restaurant Dos Caminos

In 2020, Contreras-Fox announced that she would be assuming the role of vice president of Del Frisco’s Double Eagle, Del Frisco’s Grille, and Dos Caminos. She steadily maintained relevance through reality television, with appearances on shows like Hell’s Kitchen and Food Network’s Beat Bobby Flay. Contreras-Fox also authored a children’s book that acted partially as a self memoir-cookbook hybrid, called Freckle-Faced Foodie: Journey of a Young Chef. Now she seems to be enjoying time with her family, as seen through her regular posts to Instagram dedicated to teaching her children the craft she so adamantly loves. 

Kori Sutton — Season 19

Season 19 of Hell’s Kitchen took place in none other than Las Vegas. Albeit taking place during the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic, the season was still packed with a stellar cast of masters of the craft and exquisite food. After taking her victory lap upon winning the season, Kori Sutton accepted her position as head chef at Gordon Ramsay Hell’s Kitchen Lake Tahoe

Besides taking advantage of an opportunity of a lifetime, Sutton splits her time operating her own salsa brand, Mama Kori Salsa, making handcrafted and small-batch salsas inspired by the Jalisco-style recipes of her family. Only time will tell what is to come next for Kori Sutton, but based on her work so far, the talented chef has a bright future ahead.  

Trenton Garvey — Season 20

This season of Hell’s Kitchen featured all chefs under the age of 24 — and Trenton Garvey took home all of the glory. Trenton cashed in his $250,000 by accepting the role as head chef at Gordon Ramsay Steak in the Paris Las Vegas resort.

Garvey’s background as an executive chef at The Blue Duck in Maplewood, Missouri, amassed him the tools needed to catapult his career forward. And after finishing his time at Gordon Ramsay Steak, he has since landed himself a job at The Bedford by Martha Stewart in the Paris Las Vegas resort. Most recently, Garvey teased on his Instagram that he is working on opening Guy Fieri’s new restaurant.

Alex Belew — Season 21

Alex Belew entered Hell’s Kitchen already as a former restaurant owner at the age of 40, in a season that pitted 40-somethings against 20-somethings in a “battle of the ages.” The already-accomplished chef officially won Ramsay over and took home the title in 2022. Since winning, Belew has been getting creative with podcasts and online recipes in an attempt to find his niche in this new world of opportunity. 

Belew officially accepted the cash prize and head chef position at Gordon Ramsay’s newest Hell’s Kitchen at Caesars Atlantic City upon winning season 21. He’s already garnered himself some fresh new partnerships, so only time will tell what comes next for the current reigning Hell’s Kitchen champ.