Hell's Kitchen (U.S. season 1)

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Hell's Kitchen (U.S. season 1)
Country of origin United States
No. of episodes 11
Original network Fox
Original release May 30 (2005-05-30) – August 1, 2005 (2005-08-01)
Season chronology
List of Hell's Kitchen episodes

This article contains contestant information and episode summaries from Season 1 of the American competitive reality television series Hell's Kitchen. Season 1 aired starting on May 30, 2005 and concluded on August 1, 2005. Michael Wray from Fort Collins, Colorado, won the first season of Hell's Kitchen, thus winning his own restaurant in Los Angeles named Tatou (he was offered to go to London to work under Gordon Ramsay, but later declined due to family reasons).

The show was taped in Los Angeles at KCOP, in a converted former television broadcast facility that previously hosted shows such as The Joker's Wild and Tic-Tac-Dough in the late 1970s to mid 1980s.

Sous chefs and Maître d'hôtel[edit]


The 12 contestants were initially divided into the Blue team and the Red team, but not based on gender as in all the following seasons. The contestants were:

Contestant Age Occupation Hometown
Andrew Bonito 24 Office Assistant Livingston, New Jersey
Jessica Cabo 26 Headhunter Huntington, New York
James "Jimmy" Casey 25 Purchasing Supervisor Williston Park, New York
Mary Ellen Daniels 27 Bartender Belmont, Massachusetts
Jeffrey "Dewberry" Dewberry 33 Pastry Chef Stockbridge, Georgia
Jeffrey "Jeff" LaPoff 28 Finance Manager Orange, New Jersey
Wendy Liu 32 Account Manager Millburn, New Jersey
Christopher "Chris" North 35 Executive Chef Yorktown Heights, New York
Ralph Pagano 36 Professional Chef Livingston, New Jersey
Elsie Ramos 40 Mother of Six Maywood, New Jersey
Carolann Valentino 33 Server's Assistant Dallas, Texas
Michael Wray 27 Professional Chef Fort Collins, Colorado

Contestant progress[edit]

Each week, the best member from the losing team during the latest service period ("least bad" as determined by Ramsay) is asked to nominate two of their teammates for elimination; one of these two is sent home by Gordon Ramsay.

Original teams Switched teams Individual Finals
No. Chef 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110/11
11 Dewberry NOM OUT
12 Carolann OUT
  1. ^ a b c Chef was nominated by Ramsay


Each episode consisted of a challenge with a reward, a service, and an elimination.

No. in
Title Original air date
1 1 "12 Chefs Compete" May 30, 2005

Signature dishes: The first task for the chefs was to make Ramsay their signature dish. Carolann's chicken parmesan received praise, while Elsie's turkey tacos were deemed "not bad", but the remaining dishes were poorly received. Ramsay spit out Andrew's pasta dish and found Mary Ellen's endive dish boring, Wendy's fried rice unimpressive, Jimmy's stuffed chicken dry, and hated Ralph's tuna. Dewberry's spaghetti was overcooked, Chris's salmon was raw, Jeff's steak was overcooked despite having a good sauce, Jessica's shelled crabs were too hot and Ramsay found Michael's scallops "disgusting".

After the challenge, the chefs were divided into two teams; the red team (Carolann, Chris, Dewberry, Elsie, Jeff and Jimmy) and the blue team (Andrew, Jessica, Mary Ellen, Michael, Ralph and Wendy).

Service: Ramsay assigned Jeff and Ralph as waiters for service. In the red kitchen, Elsie overcooked risotto, but recovered, Chris overcooked salmon, Jimmy served poor lamb and burnt his hand, Carolann stood at the dessert station instead of helping, Jeff struggled as a waiter, and Dewberry did little. In the blue team, Ramsay scolded Andrew for asking questions instead of serving his dessert and Wendy ran out of potatoes. Ramsay shut both kitchens down after customers began walking out. Ramsay named the blue team winners for having a more positive rating from customers; Elsie was named best of the worst and told to nominate two chefs for elimination.

Elimination: Elsie nominated Carolann and Dewberry, despite promising the latter they would be safe. Ramsay hinted that other members should have been nominated, though honoured Elsie's wishes, eliminating Carolann for her lack of participation during service and lack of experience.

Ramsay's comment: "Some can handle it, some can't. I'm not interested in the ones that can't."
2 2 "11 Chefs Compete" June 6, 2005

Team challenge: To clean and prep squid to Ramsay's standards. Since the blue team had an extra member, Michael was forced to sit out. For the red team, Jeff, Jimmy, Elsie and Chris scored one and Dewberry scored two. For the blue team, Ralph and Mary Ellen scored two, and Jessica scored one, but Wendy and Andrew scored zero, giving the red team a 6–5 win.

Reward/punishment: The red team received dinner with Ramsay. The blue team prepped the remaining squid for service and were forced to go through service without air conditioning.

Service: In the red kitchen, Jeff struggled on garnish, and while Chris had a strong performance, helping Elsie on fish, Dewberry almost walked out after struggling on meat. In the blue kitchen, Wendy needed Ralph's help to get starters out and Andrew and Mary Ellen bickered over control of the meat station until sous chef Scott stepped in. When the red team's entrees started to stall, one of the red tables order a pizza delivered at their location. Jean-Phillipe told them that's against the rules, but gets to an argument with one of the customers, with him getting shoved. Having seen his maitre-di physically assaulted, and customers leaving, Ramsay had enough and shut down both kitchens for the second time in a row. Ramsay named the blue team winners for serving more entrees; Chris was named best of the worst.

Elimination: Chris nominated Dewberry and Jeff. Ramsay eliminated Dewberry for two poor performances and almost abandoning his team.

Ramsay's comment: "I'm looking for someone who can weather the storm, inspire individuals, stand as a great leader. That, clearly, is not Dewberry."
3 3 "10 Chefs Compete" June 13, 2005

Team change: Prior to the challenge, Ramsay transferred Michael to the red team. Ramsay notes the red team will benefit well from this, and suggest to Michael that this is a good opportunity to step up as a leader.

Team challenge: Both teams had to cook a five-course meal using $100 and 10 minutes of shopping time at a local supermarket. Both teams had three dishes liked by Ramsay, but Ramsay deemed the red team's dishes went together better, giving them the win.

Reward/punishment: The red team had dinner with Ramsay at a local pub while the blue team had to clean the dorms.

Service: Two food critics attended service, sampling both teams. In the red kitchen, Jeff struggled plating lobster, which forced Michael to take over, and argued with Sous Chef Maryann, but the red team's starters impressed the critics. After Jeff's abrupt departure, Michael took over the meat section, and received praise for the lamb from the critics. In the blue kitchen, Wendy filled pasta with cold water and Andrew's and Wendy's starters were negatively received, but Ralph put in a strong performance on entrees, though the lamb entree received mixed reviews. Despite the critics getting their entrees, most of the diners didn't and start to leave, causing Ramsay to shut both kitchens down for the third time in a row, Ramsay named the red team winners for having more positive comments from the critics.

Jeff's exit: Jeff struggled on meat and argued with Ramsay, calling him an "asshole" under his breath. Maryann however heard him, and after being confronted, Jeff angrily threw off his jacket and walked out of Hell's Kitchen.

Elimination: Ralph was named best of the worst and nominated Wendy and Andrew for elimination. Ramsay eliminated Wendy for struggling in all three services.

Ramsay's comment: "The third night of Hell's Kitchen was shocking, really bad. I'm hoping we step up a gear, we raise our game and we start coming together as a proper restaurant. Jeff, well, I had to laugh at the end when he called me an arsehole. I've been called far worse than that. Wendy, well you know, it's about time I put you out of your misery."
4 4 "8 Chefs Compete" June 20, 2005

Team challenge: The teams had to set up a dining table to Ramsay's standards. The red ream made four mistakes, while the blue team made only one, giving the blue team their first reward victory.

Reward/punishment: The blue team received massages while the red team had to clean silverware and set all 100 tables in the dining room before service.

Service: Having enough of the premature shut downs, Ramsay announced that the first team that served all their tables would win service. In the blue kitchen, Andrew struggled on garnish, and though Jessica put in a strong performance on meat, Mary Ellen had risottos returned. In the red kitchen, though Jimmy initially struggled on garnish, Elsie put in a strong performance on meat, helping the red team serve all their tables first and giving them the win, while Ramsay shut down the blue kitchen despite being five tables behind.

Elimination: Ramsay named Jessica best of the worst and she nominated Andrew and Mary Ellen. Ramsay eliminated Mary Ellen for her inconsistency.

Ramsay's comment: "Mary Ellen has left Hell's Kitchen because of her inconsistency. What the rest of the team should understand, is that it is very crucial to get better and more consistent. That didn't happen with Mary Ellen."
5 5 "7 Chefs Compete" June 27, 2005

Team challenge: Ramsay created a new menu featuring pasta dishes for service. The teams had 20 minutes to turn raw dough into pasta by Ramsay's standards. Since the red team had an extra member, Chris was forced to sit out. The blue team had 2.41 pounds of pasta accepted, but the red team won with 2.45 pounds.

Reward/punishment: The red team were treated to wine and cheese on a gondola ride. The blue team prepped the remaining pasta for the service.

Service: The service had two servings; the teams took turns cooking and working in the dining room. Since the red team won the challenge, they chose to cook first, but Elsie and Chris struggled on entrees and Jimmy, despite serving good starters, served them on dirty plates. After they switched and the second service began, Michael urged the customers to order lasanga to slow down the blue team. The dishes the blue team served were satisfactory, but they were slow, so Ramsay closed service. Ramsay named the blue team winners for having a higher quality of food overall; Michael was named the best of the worst.

Elimination: Michael nominated Elsie and Chris. Ramsay eliminated Chris for failing to live up to his executive chef position.

Ramsay's comment: "When you come into the kitchen and announce that you are an executive chef, you expect a little bit more than what I got from Chris. If he's been telling the world that he has that amount of knowledge then he should have been 10 times better."
6 6 "6 Chefs Compete" July 11, 2005

Team challenge: The chefs were blindfolded and asked to identify various foods on taste alone. Each participant had to identify 4 different food items. The red team won 4–1.

Reward/punishment: The red team went wine tasting at LA's finest restaurants with Ramsay. The blue team had to clean the restaurant's pots and pans and had to enter a code to enter their storeroom during service.

Service: Ramsay again threw the menu out and asked each team to create their own, with diners being able to choose between them. The red team had a strong performance, their only problems being Jimmy undercooking and then overcooking scallops. In the blue kitchen, Andrew served salads on cold plates, and Ralph's halibut course was returned for being overcooked. The red team were named winners for serving more tables and receiving more positive reviews. Jessica was named best of the worst and asked to nominate either Andrew or Ralph for elimination.

Elimination: Jessica nominated Andrew, but Ramsay also nominated Ralph. However, he eliminated Andrew for his confrontational attitude and inconsistent performances.

Ramsay's comment: "It's only down to the final five. These are the best of the best and the cream is slowly rising to the top. I think really now have to start emerging as individual talent. Andrew's gone tonight because he's out of his depth. I discovered a fake. He can't cook."
7 7 "5 Chefs Compete" July 11, 2005

Ramsay merged the remaining five chefs into one team wearing black jackets, where each chef would compete as an individual.

Challenge: The chefs had to recreate tableside fruit flambe to Ramsay's standards. Jimmy won, narrowly beating out Elsie.

Reward/punishment: Jimmy received a helicopter trip over L.A., and chose Michael to go with him. The others were forced to clean the dining room.

Service: For winning the challenge, Jimmy chose Elsie to serve tableside caesar salad. Ramsay chose Ralph to assist him at the hotplate. Jessica struggled on meat and Jimmy accidentally threw away a complete lobster dish, struggled on risotto and argued with Ramsay. Ralph was named best of the worst.

Elimination: Ralph nominated Jimmy and Jessica. Ramsay eliminated Jimmy, but commended him on his performance.

Ramsay's comment: "Each and one of these contestants now have to start emerging as individual talent. This is when we really start to find out who can handle the heat and who can't. Clearly tonight, Jimmy couldn't."
8 8 "4 Chefs Compete" July 18, 2005

Challenge: Ramsay gave the chefs fifteen minutes to create an original dish from a tray of fifteen leftovers from the previous service. Jessica made beef stew and a raspberry dessert, Michael made a pasta dish and a chicken dish, Ralph made a side chicken dish and Elsie made a chicken soup. Elsie won.

Reward: Elsie accompanied Ramsay to a taping of Good Day Live, where they demonstrated how to make risotto.

Service: For winning the challenge, Elsie assigned the chefs to their stations, though Ramsay reassigned the team twice due to inadequate communication. Jessica struggled on starters and had issues on lobster and Elsie struggled on fish as the others refused to help her. After two tables walked out, Ramsay shut the kitchen down.

Elimination: Ramsay nominated Jessica and Elsie. He eliminated Elsie, but noted warmly that he was proud of her, as she beat out people with far more restaurant experience than her.

Ramsay's comment: "Now that were down to the final three, what I am looking for personally is flair, creativity, great imagination and more importantly individuality cause its now when they really have to start excelling."
9 9 "3 Chefs Compete" July 25, 2005

Challenge: The three finalists were tasked to create a soufflé. Ralph won, with Michael second.

Reward: Ralph received first choice in selecting a dish to make for service: beef, chicken or tuna. Ralph chose beef and Michael chose tuna, so Jessica was left with chicken.

Service: Unbeknownst to the chefs, their families attended service, having the chance to select their favorite without knowing who made it. Despite Jessica struggling with desserts, service was completed and every customer was served. Michael's tuna received five votes from the family members, compared to three for Ralph's filet mignon and one for Jessica's chicken.

Elimination: With only one vote for her dish, Ramsay eliminated Jessica, but praised her for determination and talent.

Ramsay's comment: "Now we're down to the final two. This is it. The fascinating thing about these two guys is they're both equally as good as one another. And this is where they have to now separate, put everything they've learned from Hell's Kitchen and show me what they're made of. That's what I'm looking for."
10/11 10/11 "2 Chefs Compete/Finale" August 1, 2005

Hell's Kitchen was then into two for the final service, with Michael and Ralph decorating their own restaurant, choosing the service uniforms and creating the menu.

Challenge: The two finalists cooked their signature dishes and put them on the street for public opinion. Michael won with a 12–6 score.

Practice service: The two finalists were given practice before the dinner service by cooking for the workers.

Restaurant Designing: Michael created a LA-modern style theme named Lola Pop, while Ralph created a New York style Steakhouse named Frank & Lulu's.

Reward: Michael was granted first pick in drafting a team using the six chefs eliminated from the competition prior to the final.[note 1] Michael picked Jessica, Jimmy and Elsie, while Ralph picked Andrew and Wendy, and was left with Dewberry.

Service: Before service, Andrew cut his finger and was rushed to hospital, but quickly returned after receiving stitches. Michael started off quiet while Ralph started strong, though he often left his position at the pass to help his team. Jessica, unhappy about not being on Ralph's team, refused to accept Michael's authority, leading to an argument with Elsie. Elsie's starter had plastic in it and Jimmy's steak was slightly undercooked. For Ralph's team, Dewberry became overheated and nearly fainted, but was convinced to keep going. Both teams finished service. Ramsay praised both Michael and Ralph, saying the customers loved the food and atmosphere, but one thing would help him make his decision: the number of customers who would return.

Winner: Michael and Ralph stood in front of a closed door; Michael's door opened, making him the first winner of Hell's Kitchen. 94% of Michael's customers said they would return, compared to 90% for Ralph. Ramsay then made Michael an offer to accept the original prize of his own restaurant, or an invitation to join Ramsay in London to work alongside him at one of his restaurants. Michael accepted the offer to work in London.

Ramsay's comment: "Ralph was great tonight but Michael deserved to win because his creativity and standards are simply on a higher level, and I accomplish my goal of turning an unknown into a master chef and that has to be the perfect way to close Hell's Kitchen tonight. And I'm fucking out of here!"


  1. ^ Chris and Mary Ellen did not return; Wendy, as the last chef eliminated prior to the top eight, took Chris's place, but Jeff did not return, so Dewberry, as the last chef eliminated prior to the top ten, took Mary Ellen's place.


Michael was the Executive Head Chef at The Standard in Los Angeles, California. His original plan was to go to the UK to learn under Ramsay, but as a newlywed wanting to start a family, he decided it was the wrong time to move. He made an appearance in the third season finale where he, along with other cooks, judged Rock's and Bonnie's dishes.

Ralph had a protege, Royce Wagner, competing in Season 10 of Hell's Kitchen. Chef Ramsay called Ralph to get Royce motivated which generated his best performance after the phone call. Ultimately, Royce did not come close to meeting the success of his mentor and came in at 10th place.