Gordon Ramsay may have achieved meme status for his “Hell’s Kitchen” meltdowns, with quips like “idiot sandwich” plastered across the internet in white Impact font. But no matter what you see on television, Johnathan Benvenuti says, the real Ramsay is completely different. “Working with Gordon Ramsay has changed my life. He teaches you so much about professionalism and being a young chef,” he says. “When you get to spend some time with him, you progress a little bit as a person and as a chef … By no means is he this mean, angry chef people think he is.” His mentorship, says Benvenuti, is one reason why he’d repeat the entire filming experience if he could.
There are many lessons Benvenuti picked up from Ramsay, though it’s the little ones that come to mind first. At a point when only eight contestants were remaining, the show’s host shared some quick kitchen wisdom with the “Hell’s Kitchen” hopeful. “He came over and showed me how to sear some steaks and go back and forth with the pans, and that was a special moment,” says the chef. Of course, there was much more to absorb than culinary technique alone. Ramsay’s sense of professionalism was infectious among several contestants, including Benvenuti. “He tells you to stand up straight and how to carry yourself in front of his judges, and those are things that you can’t put a price tag on.”