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
Next →
Season 2
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). This was the only season to date in which the teams were not separated by gender at the start.

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 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110/111
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 "Day 1" May 30, 2005 (2005-05-30)

The twelve aspiring chefs arrive at Hell's Kitchen, and get to know each other. Maitre-Di Jean-Phillipe introduces himself, and introduces them to Gordon Ramsay's Sous Chefs; Mary-Ann and Scott. They tell the chefs that their first challenge begins now.

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 said Andrew's "Absolute Penne" was "absolute dogshit" 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). The chefs are then informed that Hell's Kitchen is opening tonight, and they spend their time learning recipes and prepping their respective kitchens.

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 very did little. In the blue team, Ramsay scolded Andrew for asking questions instead of serving his dessert, Wendy ran out of potatoes, and Ralph struggled to keep one of his tables happy. 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, specifically Jimmy and Jeff, though honored Elsie's wishes. He then eliminated 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 "Day 2" June 6, 2005 (2005-06-06)

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.

The night before service, Jeff goes through pain in his kidneys but is ignored by his teammates and the blue team.

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, Michael was chewed out by Ramsay for complaining about the heat, 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 orders a pizza delivered at their location. Jean-Phillipe told them that's against the rules, but gets into 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, a decision Ramsay said he "110%" agreed with. Ramsay eliminated Dewberry for his second poor performance 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 "Day 3" June 13, 2005 (2005-06-13)

After the elimination service, Jeff passes a kidney stone, and shows it to everyone to prove he was in pain.

Team change: Prior to the challenge, Ramsay transferred Michael to the red team to balance the teams up. 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. Elsie scored over Jessica in the cold starters, but both Jeff and Ralph scored on the hot appetizers. Wendy was able to score over Chris on the fish entree, but Michael scored over Andrew on the meat entree. Lastly, Mary-Ellen scored over Jimmy on desserts. 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.

While prepping for service, Jeff left a hot sheet uncovered, and an unaware Elsie burned herself when trying to pick it up. This angers the red team, coming to the conclusion that they're better off without Jeff.

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, making it not just the worst service in Hell's Kitchen, but also the worst in Ramsay's cooking career (this would later be beaten by the opening night in Season 12, where not a single dish was served from either kitchen), 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. This marked the first time someone left Hell's Kitchen without being eliminated, and the first time someone quit mid-service.

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 "Day 4" June 20, 2005 (2005-06-20)

While the red team is relieved that Jeff is gone, Ralph warns Andrew that his smart mouth behavior won't last him for long.

Team challenge: The teams had to set up a dining table to Ramsay's standards. The red team 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. While Jessica hoped that Andrew would be going home, 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 "Day 5" June 27, 2005 (2005-06-27)

Jessica was shocked that Mary Ellen was eliminated over Andrew, while Andrew starts to realize his behavior has to stop after being nominated twice now.

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 was 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 lasagna 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: Despite promising Chris that they would make it to the end together, Michael nominated him and Elsie. Ramsay allowed these nominations, though told Jimmy he was a "bullet dodger". 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 "Day 6" July 11, 2005 (2005-07-11)

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 decided to create their menu as a group, while Ralph imputed most of the dishes for the blue teams menu and ignored his teammate's suggestions, much to Andrews frustration. Before service, Andrew tried to cheat out of the blue teams punishment by taping the door so they didn't have to use the code everytime. Sous Chef Scott, however, caught him and made their punishment worse by saying they now have to get only one item at a time. 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 six times for being overcooked. Ramsay shut down the kitchens after orders were getting backed up. While the blue team had more orders, the red team were named winners for serving more tables and receiving more positive reviews, with Ramsay giving praise to Michael. 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 "Day 7" July 11, 2005 (2005-07-11)

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: Impressed about the menu service, Ramsay decided to combine the two menus together for service tonight. For winning the challenge, Jimmy chose Elsie to serve tableside caesar salad. Ramsay chose Ralph to assist him at the hotplate, and gave his sous chef the night off. Jessica struggled on meat, and didn't have enough steaks until Michael came back with more of the meat and Jimmy accidentally threw away a complete lobster dish, struggled on risotto and argued with Ramsay. Ramsay shut down the kitchen after seeing Jimmy and Jessica struggle too much. Ralph was named best of the worst.

Elimination: Ralph nominated Jimmy and Jessica. Ramsay eliminated Jimmy for being the weakest chef out of the five, but commended him on his performance. Jimmy's exit had a retrospective montage of his time at Hell's Kitchen added on in his elimination speech, which becomes the norm for most black jacket chefs.

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 "Day 8" July 18, 2005 (2005-07-18)

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 for her poor performance tonight, 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 "Day 9" July 25, 2005 (2005-07-25)

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

Reward: Ralph received the 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 (Michael's wife and in-laws, Jessica's girlfriend, sister and mother, and Ralph's fiance and his mother and uncle) 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.

After Jessica's elimination, Ramsay allowed Michael and Ralph time with their loved ones.

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."
"Day 10" August 1, 2005 (2005-08-01)

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, and having a turn at the pass. Both of them showed strengths and weaknesses during this service. Michael showed great attention to detail to the food up at the pass, but wasn't vocal enough the first few times he read the orders out, though surprised the crew when he yelled out "You cook like old people fuck". Ralph had the opposite problem; he was very vocal giving out orders but didn't pay attention when Michael deliberately sent a risotto without any crab, causing the risotto to be brought back from the dining room. He also didn't have high standards when it came to sending food up to the dining room. After service, Ramsay told the two to learn from what happened tonight, and fix it for tomorrow. Michael practiced being more assertive by re-enacting lines Ramsay said this season, much to Ralph's amusement.

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

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 the 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 each 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.