'Hell's Kitchen' Insider: Hanging with the Blues Brothers
'Hell's Kitchen' Insider: Hanging with the Blues Brothers
Meghan Carlson
Meghan Carlson
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
If you watch Hell's Kitchen, you already know that Christina Machamer overcame exceptional odds to win of the fourth season of the notorious show, becoming the executive sous chef at at the London West Hollywood Hotel. Check in each week as Christina "dishes up" her insights on Hell's Kitchen's fifth season, her notorious new boss, and life after reality TV stardom.

By Christina Machamer

Another week, and another exciting episode.  It is no surprise that Danny and Paula are pitted against each other in the finals.  It seems to me that they have been paired up together throughout most of the challenges, and both have had nothing short of stellar stints throughout the dinner services.

What was surprising to me is the amount of support Danny's hometown restaurant has shown him.  If you read the FOX blogs, you have already seen the smattering of posts about the grand re-opening of the restaurant Danny works for in the small town of New Smyrna Beach, FL.  It just so happens that I was in central Florida at the time working on a deal to integrate our line of spices and few of the more healthy recipes into a program with one of the nation's leading diet companies.  So, after a long day of marketing ourselves, I was ecstatic to receive an invitation from Danny to his event last Thursday.  

I really had no idea what to expect, and was blown away by the support that was shown not only by his employers and fans, but also by the previous cast mates who were in attendance.  We pulled up to the small Flip Flops Grill, and were affronted by two huge projection screens set up in the parking lot, and a crowd of nearly 300 onlookers.  In addition to Danny, Robert, Ben, and Gio had made the trek to Western Florida to show support for their "Blues Brother."  The four were dressed in their chef whites offering autographs and photo ops, and it was incredibly fun for me to hang back and watch others enjoy the thrill that I so recently endured.  

As the show began, Danny whispered to me that this was perhaps not his most shinning performance in the kitchen, and we watched him get torn apart by Paula in the challenge.  But the fans never wavered, and never seemed to doubt that Danny would pull through.  After Andrea was dismissed, there was a champagne toast, and then the evening really got interesting.

One should know that all of the contestants who have ever been on Hell's Kitchen are bonded.  Win, lose, it doesn't really matter.  There is no way anyone could survive an experience like that and not form a friendship.  So, even though this was the first time I had met my predecessors, it felt more like an old fraternity gathering.  We all had similar experiences, and though our outcomes vary, we had a great time catching up on "the good old times."  

Earlier in the season, Robert missed out on a reward where the contestants got to ride segways.  He instead was forced to tool behind on a bicycle.  Not tonight, however, as Danny had arranged for a local segway dealer to provide transportation to the bars after the party.  So, helmets on, the four rode off from the event in true HK style.  It was later that night, in the more subdued setting, that we were able to catch up further, and all of the secrets came out.  Since the airing of the show, Robert has been cooking in the NY Yankees locker room, and is opening a restaurant next month with their backing.  Gio, who lives in Destin, FL, said he was happy to leave.  "I just got out of Jersey," he explained.  "I live in Florida right along the beach, so I'm not too keen on the idea of going back north."  

Ben was the most surprising to meet.  As my previous blogs detail, I was no fan of Ben, and like many others, I thought he was an angry, loud-mouthed jerk.  Well, in truth, Ben does have a lot to say, but it was his charisma that shocked me.  He is not entirely the same person he was portrayed to be, and had for me, quite possibly the most interesting tidbit of the night.  Some time ago, Ben, who hails from Chicago, went on a date with a girl who started asking him about Hell's Kitchen.  This was before the cast of season 5 had been announced, and there is a strict confidentiality agreement that prevents us from admitting that we were on the show, let alone the outcome.  So, Ben's on this date, being probed about the show.  He starts to panic, thinking that he has been set up by FOX. Turns out this girl was talking about Season Four, and her childhood friend that was in the cast. This friend was me, and Ben happened to be on a date with my neighbor whom I've known for nearly 15 years.  I guess it really is a small world.

The night ended in the wee hours of the morning with us five former contestants and a few close friends at a small breakfast joint.  I think we scared our waitress half to death as she looked up and exclaimed, "OH MY WORD!  Weren't you all on that show?" Yes, we replied, but at that moment we were just five old friends hungry for some over-easy eggs and bacon.

So when will I see my newest old friends again?  Sooner than you might think.  Next week, we'll watch Danny and Paula transform Hell's Kitchen into their own dream restaurants.  Following that, it is off to Atlantic City for a finale party sponsored by the Borgata. All of my season's contestants, as well as the chefs from Season Five, have been extended invitations.  It should be extraordinary, as you never know what will happen when we all get together.  Just think of the possibilities: Matty, Jen, Lacey, and Seth all in the same city?  Maybe there will be a surprise visit from Gordon, you never know.  So, till next week.... eat well and be well.

After graduating at the top of her class from The Culinary Institute of America and putting in decades of work in some of the country's top kitchens, Christina Machamer's hard work has been rewarded with a Hell's Kitchen triumph. Now settled into her new West Hollywood digs, she and her partner Cory Lemieux venture into the artisan spice trade with their online company bcbcblends.com. Look for Christina, as she travels the country, seeking out food shows, farmer's markets, and a possible location for her next culinary adventure.

Read more by Christina:
Hell's Kitchen Insider: Consistency
Hell's Kitchen Insider: Teamwork and Leadership the Keys to Winning
Hell's Kitchen Insider: The King of All Challenges
Hell's Kitchen Insider: Good Riddance to the Anti-Cooks
Hell's Kitchen Insider: Final Four Predictions
Hell's Kitchen Insider: A Bar Mitzvah To Remember
Hell's Kitchen Insider: V-C-I-T-O-R-Y?
Hell's Kitchen Insider: The Pressure Cooker
Hell's Kitchen Insider: Another One Gigabytes the Dust!
Hell's Kitchen Insider: Chef Ramsay Loves a Fighter
Hell's Kitchen Insider: First Impression