Many reality programs depend on the allure of the top prize to create the stakes for which the contestants are willing to endure the difficulty of the competition and the potential for nationally-televised humiliation. Without the possibility of the big win – a million dollars, a top modeling contract, a prestigious job as executive chef – the audience might not be as invested in the struggles of the contestants.

However, undermining the best efforts of the producers to instill a sense of excitement and awe at the life-changing potential of the top prizes are the reports of the less-than-rosy realities of winning reality shows that continue to surface. When winners like Adrienne Curry from America’s Next Top Model or Jay McCarroll and Jeffrey Sebelia from Project Runway speak frankly about the limitations of landing the top spot from the program, savvy viewers might find themselves slightly less engaged in following the next season’s progress.

Now, a new show is having to deal with the same kind of negative buzz: Hell’s Kitchen.

The New York Post recently ran a piece regarding Michael Wray and Heather West, winners of Hell’s Kitchen’s Seasons One and Two respectively.  They were promised that their win would give them the chance to bypass the hard climb up the kitchen food chain. Their prize would be an opportunity to fast-track to the top. 

In Wray’s case, he turned down the chance to helm Hell’s Kitchen itself, opting instead to go to London to study under Ramsay himself. However, he returned after a short period of time, deciding instead to open his own knife business.

Heather West’s prize was to be executive chef at T-Bones Chophouse, a steak house in the Las Vegas Red Rock Casino Spa. However, in actuality, she has a lesser title: senior chef at the slightly less luxurious Italian restaurant, Terra Rosa.

A representative from the casino says that she was given the other position because the open layout of the kitchen gives her greater visibility to the patrons, who occasionally want autographs from the Hell’s Kitchen star. While she must surely enjoy the opportunity to continue practicing the craft she loves, one wonders if being the demi-celebrity attraction at the second-tier restaurant at the resort is quite what she had in mind. It’s said she is being given the chance to “beef up her credentials” but it’s clear that once again, the real reality is very different from the reality television promise.

– Leslie Seaton, BuddyTV Staff Columnist

Source: NY Post

(Image courtesy of Fox News)


Staff Columnist, BuddyTV