'Hell's Kitchen' Season 8: We Have a Winner!
'Hell's Kitchen' Season 8: We Have a Winner!
Tonight was the end of the longest season in Hell's Kitchen history. It felt like that, didn't it? Luckily the producers decided to spare us with any more suspense by delivering a one-hour finale that kept moving at a decent clip.

Speaking of clips, that's how it all began, with a quick look back at the highlights of the season, which actually matched many of those we featured here yesterday. The fights. Raj. The raw food. Raj and more Raj and then it was on menu planning and a final meet-up with Chef Ramsay.

Russell was pensive and anxious to get on with it, but Nona couldn't contain her joy, especially when she realized they were going for a ride in a helicopter. Ramsay said it was a tour of the city that one of them would soon call home, but it was actually a lift to the site of their next challenge -- a head-to-head duel judged by some of the biggest names in the biz.

The helicopter dropped Ramsay and the two chefs at the heliport on top of the J.W. Marriott. With a crowd screaming for them below, Ramsay said it was time for one more surprise, then he handed them both parachutes. Don't you know, Nona had her pack on and was heading for the edge so fast, Ramsay barely had time to stop her. It was a joke but seriously, that girl was ready to take the plunge if it meant being a step closer to that quarter of a million dollar prize.

Here's Nona and Russell meeting their adoring public!

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Once on solid ground, Nona and Russell had to rustle up a five course meal in under an hour. Nona went with Southern comfort food while Russell had more of a modern, simple menu. They each won over the judges with two dishes and so it was the meat course that broke the tie. The win went to Russell, giving him an all-important advantage in the finale.

Taking Sides

As they always do on these shows, past contestants returned to man the kitchens and Russell's win allowed him first pick of the litter. He went with Jillian, a wise choice, then Nona countered with Gail. For the second round, Russell debated between Vinny and Rob. Vinny was the better chef but he clearly wanted nothing to do with the man whom he felt caused him to go home early. Russell went with his gut and chose Vinny anyway, Nona went with Melissa and Trev. Russell got Sabrina and Rob leaving Boris on Nona's team.

Here Nona talks about her choice of teammates.


When the doors opened to Hell's Kitchen it was do or die for the final two. They both got off to strong starts. Then Vinny began to lag on the fish station but he swore it wasn't because of his ill will toward his new boss. On Nona's side, it was Boris who slowed everything down with plate after plate of raw halibut. That's when the real test began.

Russell impressed Ramsay when he easily moved Sabrina off the meat station after she had problems, replacing her with Vinny who came through in the end. Nona, on the other hand, chose to keep counseling Boris until he got it right. This annoyed Trev, who felt it was his responsibility to keep the kitchen running smoothly and that was the beginning of a fight. Nona tried to calm her team but it took a slap-down from Ramsay to get them all back in line.

Here's Russell on his problems with Vinny.



Over on other side, Russell decided to get ahead by firing two tables at the same time. It backfired on him and Ramsay wasn't pleased. Russell's final fatal move was getting into a shoving match with Rob. Russell saw it as showing his employee who's boss, but putting your hands on anybody is out of line and it showed how really out of control he was.

In the end, both teams finished service with less drama than normal, then it was back to the dorm to await their fate. Russell continued down the dark and moody road while Nona alternated between giggling hysterically and holding back the urge to be sick.

In the final moments, they each took their place behind a door in Gordon Ramsay's office while friends and family waited below. One door would open. One door would not and that's how the world would know who won this round of Hell's Kitchen.

Three, two, one ... it was Nona, the underdog, who took home the prize. It was an unexpected turn and Russell took it badly, blaming his team for the loss. His final on-camera voice-over was all about how he intended to get each of them blacklisted from every restaurant in the country. Hearing that, it's clear that Gordon Ramsay made the right decision.

Come back to tomorrow when we'll take a final look at this season's big winner.

Do you think the right person won Hell's Kitchen?

Nona's Season in Review


Take a look back at season 8!

(Image courtesy of FOX)

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