Exclusive Interview: Vanessa of 'Hell's Kitchen'
Exclusive Interview: Vanessa of 'Hell's Kitchen'
It has to be tough to throw your heart completely into a competition, only to be forced to go home due to an accident beyond your control.  That was the situation Vanessa found herself in when she packed her bags and left Hell's Kitchen in the middle of last night's episode.  The chef wanted to continue, but after seriously burning her hand with some hot oil during last week's dinner service, she decided that it would be best for her to take herself out of the running.  Gordon Ramsay was sympathetic to Vanessa's issue, and was feeling so generous that he chose not to eliminate anyone else last night.

Today we had a chance to speak with Vanessa and see how her hand has healed, what the atmosphere was like in the kitchen, and who she thinks has what it takes to make it to the finals.  Read on for the mp3 and complete transcript of the interview.

Hi, this is Don from BuddyTV, and today I'm talking to Vanessa from Hell's Kitchen.  First of all, how is your hand doing?

It's good.  There's a little bit of scarring and some sensitivity, but it's fine.

Did you have to get any surgery on it or anything like that?

No, no, I was lucky.  I think because I let it heal I didn't need any kind of surgery.

So what experience did you have prior to the show, and what made you want to try out for Hell's Kitchen?

I had 15 years in the industry as a line cook before I auditioned, and I had been watching the show pretty religiously for the past three seasons.  I had always said, "Oh, I can do that, I can do that," not realizing all that there is to it and how difficult it actually was.  My fiancé found out where the casting call was, and kind of snuck around and got my chefs to give me the time off and stuff like that.  Then he told me, "You're going whether you like it or not."  Otherwise, I might not have gone on my own.

How does the atmosphere in Hell's Kitchen differ from your normal day job?

Oh, it was entirely different actually.  You're walking into a situation where you're dealing with recipes you've never seen before.  All of the recipes are in metric, which culinary school students can probably convert, but I'm not so familiar with that.  You're with a bunch of people you've never worked with before, you have no idea how they work, and for me it was a totally different call system than any restaurant I've ever worked in. So it was pretty much completely unfamiliar territory.

What's the toughest part in the kitchen?  Is it Ramsay screaming?  Is it the recipes, or the team working together?

I think the toughest part for me is having Ramsay scream constantly.  I'm not accustomed to that.  We're all loud and stuff like that, and we do get screamed at occasionally, but that perpetual hounding can kind of get to you after a while.

What was your reaction in the first episode when Ramsay tried your signature dish and said that it was one of the best he had tasted that day?

I was pretty excited, because when I first walked up there I was ready to puke.  I was so nervous that he was going to do the same thing to my food that he did to everybody else's.  It was really exciting, and it's been exciting too because that dish went on our menu at the restaurant, and people are actually coming into the restaurant asking for the dish that was on Hell's Kitchen.

On the episode a couple of weeks ago, you were put up for elimination after having trouble on the meat station.  What went wrong there?

Basically, I wasn't familiar with the procedures.  Usually when I cook steak it's on a grill, and cooking something like that in a pan is completely foreign to me.  It just kind of domino effected from there, from that first dish.  Then him sending something back, and saying, "It's raw," and having everybody poke it, and then he sends it back to me.  I figured I had to start a new one, but he didn't necessarily want me to start a new one, and I'm like well, everybody's fingers were in it, so I started a new one.  It just kind of went downhill from there.

Did you think it was fair that you were in the bottom two that night?

Yeah I did.  When I talked to Christina very briefly, I told her that I understood why she had to put me up, and I wasn't going to be angry at her.  It was okay, I could cope with that.

Was there anything in the editing of the show that bothered you, or anything that you thought should have been in there that was cut out?

I don't know about too much.  I was a little bummed that the one night I got complimented at the end of the night for service, they didn't show that.

So what ultimately led to your decision to quit the competition?  Was it just the hand, or was there stress involved or other factors?

It actually was my hand.  I just decided it was more important that it heal, and that I not end up in surgery for that or having some serious problems because I didn't let it heal.

Which challenge on the show did you think was the toughest that Ramsay put you through?

Probably the pasta making, just because I figured the guys having so much upper body strength, I figured they would win.  That was a real workout, plus the pasta machines were not bolted to the tables correctly. We had to go back and forth holding the machines still and stuff like that.  That was a pretty difficult challenge for us.

Out of the other contestants you worked with, who do you think has what it takes to make it to the finals?

I think Jen has what it takes to make it to the finals.

Now that you're done with the show, what's in the future for you?

I'm gonna keep working at the restaurant that I'm at, because I love it and it's a great place to work.  I'm gonna finish my college education and become a criminal psychologist.

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