Exclusive Interview: Bobby of 'Hell's Kitchen'
Exclusive Interview: Bobby of 'Hell's Kitchen'
Many chefs walk into Hell's Kitchen thinking they're going to blow away the competition, but few arrived with more self-promotion than Bobby.  The self-proclaimed "black Gordon Ramsay" and "four star General" started bragging about his skills in the first episode of the season, but unlike a lot of the other chefs he nearly lived up to his own hype.  Bobby was a consistent challenger in the kitchen, and was only put up for elimination once prior to his ouster in last night's episode.  Most impressively, he also managed to keep a positive attitude while the rest of the men's team succumbed to bickering and backstabbing.

Today we had a chance to sit down with Bobby to discuss his elimination, whether he really considers himself equal to Ramsay, and his plans for the future.

Hi, this is Don from BuddyTV, and today I'm talking to Bobby from Hell's Kitchen.  I'm wondering what experience you had prior to going on the show, and what made you decide to try out?

Prior to that, I started in this business in 1986.  I started as a dishwasher and worked my way up to executive chef.  The last ten years I was in a role of executive chef or better, so I definitely had experience in the cooking field.  The psychology field, I wish I would have talked to a couple psychologists before I went on the show.  I was a little lacking in that field.

Would you say that was the hardest part?  Was it living with the other contestants, or was it just Ramsay's screaming all the time?

It wasn't Ramsay, because you'll notice if you watch the show that Ramsay didn't scream at me.  He didn't belittle me, he didn't throw things at me.  I think it was living with the other contestants.  I didn't realize what that was going to have to entail.  Just imagine waking up with a migraine every day at the very maximum level, and being on a roller coaster ride in your stomach every day before you even start your day.  I didn't prepare for that.

During the final dinner service it looked like you had a lot of trouble on the meat station.  What exactly went wrong there?

I didn't really have a lot of trouble.  It was my time to get shown, you know?  There were a few things, but it's nothing major that any normal restaurant wouldn't have.  It's how you correct those problems, that's what makes a great restaurant.  There was no crucial mistakes where he had to come to my station, kick me off my station, or even come over there and belittle me or yell at me.  It wasn't crucial like that.  The way they showed it is the way they showed it.

Do you think it was fair that you went home over Jen?  She didn't seem like as much of a team player as you did.

Yeah, it wasn't even about being a team player, because Jen's not going to be a team player.  I don't think it was fair.  That was my first time up for elimination in a long, long time, he even said it.  I had a slightly bad night.  I'm not blaming anyone for it, but that's nothing to fire someone over or even write someone up.  Yeah, I feel like it was unfair.

What was the atmosphere like on the men's team after Matt left and Jen joined the team?

At that point, at that particular point, we didn't care who was going to come on that team, because we had to cook.  We all had to work together as a team.  Jen came over and brought the team spirit to an individual type of spirit.  We kind of let her run wild and do her own thing, and let her put the rope around her own neck.

It seemed like there was a lot of conflict this season, especially on the men's team, but you always seemed to stay pretty positive and out of it.  What do you think the problem was on that team?

The problem on the men's team was that everybody was out for themselves.  Me and Petrozza, we can work anywhere in the world together, because he's not out to backstab me, I'm not out to backstab him.  But you had a lot of people who were shooting for this prize, and you've gotta realize this is an amazing prize that they're shooting for.  I was shooting for the same prize they were shooting for, but I still kept my dignity.  I still kept who I am, I didn't change who I was.  That's one of the reasons I got picked for that show, that I stay who I am.

The very first day when you got off the bus and discovered that Ramsay was on there with you, what was your reaction to that after everything you had said?

People ask me that, like, "What do you say about living up to being the black Gordon Ramsay or the four star General?"  Yeah, I said I was the black Gordon Ramsay.  Halfway through the show you didn't hear me say that, because I found my own style.  I took a little bit of Ramsay, took a little bit of myself, and made a better package.  I didn't regret saying what I said, and I lived up to it.  I walked in there a General and I left a General.

Out of all of the challenges on the show, which did you think was the toughest and which did you do the best at?

Out of all the challenges, I really liked the pizza challenge.  The only reason we didn't nominate my pizza is because we thought Ben's pizza, which would have won but he didn't wash the mushrooms, was slightly better than mine.  But I did this Kobe beef surf and turf pizza, it was very unique.  I tried it at a few places and people have received it very nicely.  And the chicken wing challenge, the stuffed chicken wing for the 16-year-old's birthday party, we won that challenge and that was one of my creations.  I liked those two challenges.

Out of the other contestants is there anyone in particular you'd like to see make it to the finals?

Yeah, I'd like to see Petrozza make it, if he can make it to the finals.  I got a question asked today, "How do you feel about helping the guy that was gonna lose and was gonna get kicked off, and now he's still there and you're out?"  Like I said, I wouldn't change anything.  I'm a true gentleman, and Petrozza's a gentleman. I'd like to see Petrozza make it far.

Now that you're done with the show, what are your plans for the future?

I'm open.  You guys, you tell me.  Where do you guys want to see me?  I hear people want to see me back on TV, people want to see me on the Food Network, you want to see me do some more cooking segments. I'm all for it.  I've got this nice concept where we can go and cook for the average Joe.  That's what people need.  I'm like an average Joe person, so we need a network that can cook for the average Joe.

That'd be great.  You could get your own Food Network show.

Yeah.  Low budget cooking, like we take ramen noodles and upgrade that.  Real low budget cooking, that's what America needs now with the gas prices.

- Interview conducted by Don Williams
(Image courtesy of FOX)