Joanna Dunn, the 22-year-old Chef’s Assistant from Detroit, Michigan, was eliminated from Hell’s Kitchen last night which ended her chances of becoming the Head Chef of a new fine Italian restaurant at the Green Valley Ranch Resort and Spa in Las Vegas. Joanna was kind enough to talk with us at BuddyTV yesterday about her experience on the show, the challenges she faced, and what she hopes to make of her culinary career in the very near future.
Read the full interview transcript and listen to the mp3 audio below.
This is Royce from BuddyTV and I’m here with Joanna Dunn from Hell’s Kitchen. How’s it going, Joanna?
It’s fine, how are you?
I’m doing good, thank you for taking the time to talk to us.
Sure, of course.
Joanna, maybe you could start by telling us a little bit about your culinary background and how you found yourself in Hell’s Kitchen?
Well basically I’ve been a food chef working as a chef assistant at Viking which was in Atlanta, I worked there before I actually went out to do the show and so working for them they wanted to be as range as corporations in the US they do shows for TV, the food network, and they’re probably on the cutting edge of appliances and the culinary industry and so there I got to teach cooking classes and work side by side with tons of celebrity chefs and gain a lot of experience in all different types of cuisines from around the world. I think I had some good experience under my beslt before going to Hell’s Kitchen.
So what did you think about the experience over all once you got in the show? Was it anything like you expected?
Well, actually even though they had previous seasons of all girl and all guy teams I thought that because of our skill levels that they would mix it up a little bit this season which they didn’t. They went ahead and kept in the same format and usually if I can work with the team that’s kinda mixed with guys and girls, I kinda click in the guys a little more because I’m a little more logical and organized about getting things done, but when you have a whole bunch of catty girls and their egos and personalities together, I found it is a little difficult to work with.
So you definitely felt like that would have made a difference for you if the teams were mixed up?
Yes, I think that would’ve made an absolute difference. That way that would’ve worked.
Speaking of your teammates; what did you think of them and how difficult was it to work together as a team?
Well my teammates, you know, I think Melissa came from a background of good experience, she’s worked in a lot of different restaurants, which I don’t know how much that fits on the positive…but she does have experience with the different ingredients and had her own restaurant previously and then working with Bonnie just brought spirit to the team, Julia also brought a lot of experience in terms of working with high volume, working very quickly, and I think Jen brought her own…a little bit of sunshine to the team as well in terms of being a good motivator. So I really enjoyed working with everybody. Tiffany was one of my favorites as well, I think if she would’ve stayed to the end, she could have probably bound the team together more and offered a lot of spirit as well so I enjoyed working with everybody. I learned a lot from their backgrounds, from their experiences, especially from the guys.
Last night, what did you think about Jen’s move to put herself on the chopping block with you? Do you think it should have been Jen up there with you or do you think it should have been Julia?
No, I definitely think it should have been Jen, I think that her move was not really noble, it was more or less to save herself and to save her name because I felt like nobody wants to be known as the person who did something and snuck and got away with it because nobody found out. And so I think after she knew that people were conscious of what she did, and that Julia wasn’t gonna play stupid and then keep it a secret or try to form an alliance or anything like that. She had no choice but to bring herself up because any other way it would’ve went she would bury herself, or just trying to hide what she did.
So what were you feeling or what were your thoughts when you were up on the chopping block? One of your reasons for why you felt you deserved to stay on was because you said you would never serve trash. Do you wish you said more? What were your thoughts around that?
Well I was at that point like if it would’ve came down to eliminating people if I would have said Julia, you know I wanna put Julia up and Jen up and Julia ended up going up with me then I probably would’ve felt a little bad if she got voted off just because of her knowledge of the ingredients but it’s a little but in playing the game but it’s not really a game to me like real life is real life and I’m really passionate about it and I came here to get a fair evaluation from one of the best chefs in the world and stand next to other people and see how they work and the things I can do to improve myself and make my restaurant as good as Chef Ramsey’s and make my empire as good as his so I think I’ve got the opportunity to—I wasn’t there to form alliances, or stab anybody in the back, and I think people really felt like that about me.
What’s Ramsey really like? Is he as bad as he seems on TV?
No he’s not really that bad. It’s just that he wants to kinda of control things to make sure they come out and they speak well of him he doesn’t want his products to be crappy, or anybody say that he’s putting out bad products so he’s really hard on us and he really checks the quality of his ingredients of his products so he’s really hard on us and he really checks the quality of his ingredients like I said in one of my previous interviews, he tastes every single piece of food that goes out. Like every plate he’s dipping in, making sure that it’s right, and so that’s why I think people don’t realize it takes a long process to get everything out is because he’s checking quality as he goes.
Do you feel that you had a good opportunity to showcase your talents in the show? Were there things you wished they showed on TV about you that maybe they didn’t?
I think I wish they showed things about how we got along and May activities that we could interact like outside our kitchen, with just like the cameras and us with Chef Ramsey because in my heart you can tell I’m passionate about it and even the first elimination when Tiffany stood up and said you know “This girl really deserves to be here more than I do because she’s really passionate about it.” I think if people could see that, they would really get a different idea about who people are. You know, not just what we do, and also I think that if there was more individual type things, kinda like a Top Chef competition, a little bit of how that format is, where you can showcase your individual strength, instead of just being in the kitchen, I think that would help a lot, too but the ultimate prize kinda matches up with it cause this is not like a Top Chef where you’re getting your own restaurant or being able to make improvements. We still are all working for somebody so you have to give that person what they’re looking for in a chef. Not just en entrepreneur or the next TV food star, whatever.
Who do you think has a good shot at winning this competition? Is there anyone in particular that you’re rooting for?
No I think everybody has an equally good chance in the competition. Everybody has their strength and everybody is real professionals and not to you know, come down on the past seasons but there’s no like deli workers or fast food workers or anything like that. Everybody really had experience and we’re equally set here, you know. In the past seasons, people say “Oh it’s unfair because they had a chef mixed in with fast food people and people who were inexperienced.” But I think everybody equally earned their own this season. And he did a very good job of selecting the people to work in Hell’s Kitchen this year.
So what are your plans now, Joanna? What’s in store for you career-wise?
Career-wise I definitely plan on having a television show very soon. I think I wanna do the food thing, the restaurant thing because I think learning is a lifelong process especially with food, you’ll never know everything there is to know but with me having a show, it will give me an opportunity to travel to the regions, and what I have learned is that you can only learn so much working in the same kitchen all the time. You need to be traveling and I’ve been to Italy and I’ve been to Amsterdam and you know going in, been to the pastures, and seeing how cheese is made, and beers and wines and everything and I think the more important part of being able to control quality in my restaurant is knowing how everything is made and knowing you’re getting the best quality and I think by having a food TV show, I have the opportunity to do that. So that you’ll see a successful TV and food restaurant empire in the near future.
Well any final words for your fans out there?
I just want to thank everybody for watching. You guys, I’m on MySpace, so you can check me out there as well and chat with me. I always return my messages and get stuff like that so just look our for me and hopefully I’ll also have my website up in the beginning of July. Dunn2Perfection, which is the name of my company, they usually look for me being very involved in politics, coming up in this next year with regional seasonal harvesting the food and at ethanol research and you should also look for me to you know, have my own Podcast soon and all that good stuff. So you’ll definitely see a lot more of me.
Excellent, well thanks again, Joanna for your time and from all of us at BuddyTV, we just want to wish you the best of luck!
Alright well thank you. Thank you so much for speaking with me today.
(Interview conducted by Royce Yuen)