Exclusive Interview: Paula Dasilva, Runner-Up of 'Hell's Kitchen' 5
Exclusive Interview: Paula Dasilva, Runner-Up of 'Hell's Kitchen' 5
Meghan Carlson
Meghan Carlson
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
This morning I had the pleasure of talking to Paula Dasilva, the runner-up on Season 5 of Hell's Kitchen, and by Chef Ramsay's own repeated admission, one of the best chefs to ever grace his cooking competition show.

Paula was many viewers' favorite (and I have to admit, my pick to win) going into the Hell's Kitchen finale against the ultimate winner Danny Veltri (whom I also interviewed today), and it's not hard to see why. She excelled all season, stalwart and consistent under Ramsay's trademark stressors, and left with her head held high, though she admitted to me she was just excited to finally get out of there! Well, who can blame her?

Read on for the full mp3 audio and transcript of the interview.

This is Meghan with BuddyTV and I'm on the line with Paula, the runner-up from Hell's Kitchen. How are you doing?

I'm doing great!

Well, congratulations! Can you start me off telling me how you ended up applying to be on the show?

You know, it was just one of those things. They were doing a casting call in Fort Lauderdale, and my cooks actually thought it would be kind of funny for me to make it on the show and watch me get yelled at by Chef Ramsay, so I said, you know what, what the heck? It's not that far away and what do I have to lose if I go and try out for it?

You didn't seem to get yelled at that much! Were they disappointed?

Yeah, they were very disappointed they didn't get to watch me get screamed at so... sorry!

What did you learn in Hell's Kitchen that you didn't learn in culinary school?

Oh, goodness. Well, culinary school was a long time ago, but you know what? You don't go to Hell's Kitchen to learn how to cook. It's not culinary school. It's more like boot camp. So what I learned is really how much crap I can take, how much stress I can be put under, how much pressure I can be put under. So that's what you really learn. That's what I learned, anyway.

Right. So you did seem to handle the stress really well. How much stress were you feeling going into that final dinner service?

Oh my God, it was just insane. I can't even describe how much stress and pressure I was under. It was just not even measurable. Probably the most stressed and the most pressure that I have definitely ever experienced in my culinary career.

Were you worried that Lacey might ruin your chances to win?

You know what, I wasn't worried that Lacey would ruin my chances to win. I was just worried that she was going to get whiney and start complaining and give up.

Was she really as lazy and annoying in real life as she was on the show?

You know, I don't know really how Lacey was in real life. I don't know her outside of the show. The only thing that I know about her is from the show, and unfortunately she just didn't display a very good, positive aura and energy about her.

Right. Well, no more Lacey questions, I promise! So, in the kitchen, did you prefer heading up the pass or taking a station?

In the kitchen? For the finale?

Under Ramsay, when you guys had that opportunity to head up the pass, is that a role that you like having?

Oh yeah. I mean, running the pass... I do that every single day in my kitchen. But it's different when you're there. His system is different, and he still wants you to do it his way, which is fine. It's his kitchen and what not. But I'm comfortable anywhere. And some chefs are like, "Well, you know, I'm a chef and I don't go on a line. I don't cook." But for me, it's like, if I have to jump behind the line and cook and help one of my cooks out of the weeds, it's not a problem for me. I love cooking. I love actually being on the line. Every once in a while I'll switch with my sous chef, and I'll go on the line and cook so he can expedite. So I think it keeps me sharp, and it keeps my skills honed, and it's exciting. I love that adrenaline rush, you know. Sometimes it's more fun to be on the line than to be on the other side just shouting out orders and stuff. So I'm cool with either one.

I loved your final restaurant design, Sunergy. I thought it was beautiful. Can you tell me more about what inspired the look and the menu of your restaurant?

For me, my style is very simple and elegant and clean, and kind of sophisticated. When I go out to eat, I don't really like to go to these white-gloved and five-star services where I sit down and I feel like if I'm going to touch anything I'm going to get in trouble. You've got to act a certain way and be a certain way. So I wanted the restaurant to be comfortable for my guests, and I also wanted it to look good. And I picked colors that I kind of like, and so that's kind of what inspired it. The same can be said for my menu, for my food. So very seasonal, very simple and elegant, and food that people want to eat, that's going to be great and tasty at the same time.

Ramsay said over and over how hard it was to put Danny or you above the other. What do you think gave Danny the final edge?

Oh, I don't know what gave Danny the final edge. I think I had just as much of an edge. But I think the opportunity for Danny winning this would be much more beneficial, I think, than for me. To be quite honest, I don't know that it would be really a smart career move for me compared to what I have now. And I think Danny, like Ramsay said, he grew the most in the time that we were in Hell's Kitchen out of everybody else. And most certainly he was the youngest, so of course he's going to have more room to grow. And he also kind of had the least amount of experience than some of the other people, so naturally he's got more room for growth. So I don't know. I think Danny did great, and I'm really proud of him and really happy for him.

Well, you also did such a phenomenal job the entire season. What was your favorite moment, looking back?

The day that I got to pack my stuff and go home! [Laughs] The moment I saw my cellphone, after six weeks! You know what, I don't know! I don't know that I can pick just one moment that was exciting for me. There were really just too many. I mean, it was just a phenomenal experience, and I took away so much from there. You know, I don't know. There was just too much. Every day there was a different, interesting day.

One of my users wanted me to ask you about Robert, and why he wasn't one of the selected cast for the final brigades. Was that a health issue, do you know?

Yeah, that's a good question. I really don't know, but that would be my guess, that he probably couldn't come back because of his health issues.

So what are you up to now?

I am up to... actually, I am going to be back at my restaurant very soon, 3030 Ocean! Well, actually not very soon, not today. I'm taking the day off. I've been off a lot lately, I've been traveling quite a bit, so I'm just happy to get back to my kitchen and back to my crew, and I'm just happy to put my focus back there now that everything is done. I've got a lot of stuff coming up this summer, so I'm going to be busy doing some things. I'm looking forward to all that stuff.

If you could do it again, would you?

Absolutely not. [Laughs]

A little stressful! Well, congratulations again, it was a pleasure talking to you.

Thank you very much.

More Hell's Kitchen 5:
Hell's Kitchen Season 5 Finale Part One Recap
Hell's Kitchen Season 5 Finale Part Two Live Thoughts: The Winner Is Announced!
Ramsay Sounds Off on Hell's Kitchen Finalists: Paula vs. Danny
Hell's Kitchen Insider: Paula Vs. Danny

-Meghan Carlson, BuddyTV Staff Writer
Image courtesy of FOX