Hell’s Kitchen’s season 18 was the Rookies versus Veterans season that with a single ejection, featured two contestants leaving and a final that saw veteran Ariel Contreras-Fox win.
Season 18 of Hell’s Kitchen marked the continuation of producing a themed season of the series that has been airing since 2005.
Season 18 was themed Rookies versus Veterans, as the teams consisted of eight new contestants and the other team consisted of eight veterans from previous seasons.
Moreover, the season was filled with unexpected exits from the season before they were formally eliminated by Gordon Ramsay and his team of judges.
This is as there were a total of two contestants that left the series by choice and one ejection early in the season.
What is Hell’s Kitchen?
Hell’s Kitchen first aired on FOX Network in 2005, becoming one of the channel’s flagship shows.
The premise of the series is, “World renowned chef Gordon Ramsay puts aspiring young chefs through rigorous cooking challenges and dinner services at his restaurant in Hollywood, Hell's Kitchen.”
The winner stands a chance to work as the executive chef at one of Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants.
The series is arguably credited with launching the television career of Ramsay in the US, as he would go on to front MasterChef US when the American spin-off premiered in 2010.
Hell’s Kitchen season 18: Where are they now?
Hell’s Kitchen season 18 would see two teams of eight contestants compete to win the title of Hell’s Kitchen season 18 winner and become the executive chef at a Hell's Kitchen restaurant at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Gordon Ramsay was the resident judge, Christina Wilson was the sous chef for the red team, James Jocky Petrie was the sous chef for the blue team, and Marino Monferrato was the maître d'.
Ariel Contreras-Fox would win the title and redeem herself from her second runner-up position during season six. However, she did not take up her position with Ramsay’s restaurant, opting to become Dos Caminos’ executive chef.
Most recently, she was also named as the vice president of culinary at Del Frisco's Double Eagle, Del Frisco's Grille, and Dos Caminos.
Runner up, Mia Castro, was a rookie who after the competition became a private chef and a food photographer.
Chris Motto earned the respect of Gordon Ramsay after taking the decision to leave the series ahead of the finals to use the knowledge he learnt on Hell’s Kitchen to give back to his hometown.
He got to keep his shirt and go back to his role as executive chef at Mansurs On The Boulevard in Baton Rouge, and created initiatives to raise money through cookery events to fund a number of local charities.
Bret Hauser was a season 14 returning veteran, who was eliminated before the finals of season 18.
Thereafter, he went on to become a private chef, facing a scandal in 2018 when he was arrested for trafficking of synthetic products, possession of marijuana, and possession of drug equipment.
Heather Williams had a lot to prove as season 16’s runner up, but after her episode 13 elimination, she went on to hold the position of executive chef at Lehigh Valley IronPigs.
Kanae Houston’s exit was disappointing as it was not for her cooking, instead, the rookie was eliminated for her stint.
Nonetheless, she went on to create her own company Always Homemade, which offers cooking and sip experiences and also offers cooking classes.
Season 17 bottom 10 contestants: Where are they now?
Trevor “Trev” McGrath was a season eight veteran, who after his elimination went onto own a restaurant, YooNeke, and later opened Skinny Chef meals delivery service in May 2020.
Jose DeJesus was a rookie contestant that leveraged his time on the show to grow his business, Breaking Bread Kitchen, and diversified it to include underground dining experiences.
Scotely Inni, a rookie, initially returned to his position as executive chef at 5Church, before becoming a fully-fledged private chef in 2019.
Roe DiLeo was the veteran from season 13, who has since been appointed executive chef at City Tavern. Moreover, she returned to television with her 2019 appearance on Chopped.
Gizzy Barton, another rookie contestant, initially returned to her previous position as the sous chef at Ecco, before opting to start her own private catering company, appearing at various cookery events and demonstrations since.
Season 17 first eliminated 5: Where are they now?
Torrece “T” Gregoire was a season 14 returning veteran, who has grown immensely since.
First, she was the director of culinary operations at the Draper Mercantile, then the executive chef at Radford University and in August 2019, she opened her own restaurant Ina + Forbes.
Chris Mendonca, a rookie contestant, left the show when he realised that his mental health was failing him. He first worked as a chef de cuisine at Ward 8, before becoming a chef at The Automatic Food & Drink in February 2019.
Kevin Cottle was a season six veteran who initially returned to his job as the executive chef at Fire at the Ridge at Powder Ridge Ski Resort. Thereafter, he became the corporate executive chef at American Cruise Lines.
Jen Gavin was a season four returning veteran, who was ejected during the dinner service by Gordon after they shared heated words.
Jen would return to her business as the owner of Edible Passport, a private catering company offering cookery classes, catering and private chef services.
Scott Popovic was the first contestant eliminated and the first of the rookie contestants to go home. Following his exit, he became a chef instructor at Polaris Career Centre, where he teaches culinary arts.
Hell’s Kitchen season 18 marked another themed season. Only this time, the season saw a band of new and beloved faces from earlier seasons as the theme was Rookies versus Veterans.
Ironically, for most of the season’s run, either a rookie or a veteran would be eliminated after the other.
Ariel Contreras-Fox, a veteran, would win the season. However, she would make the unconventional choice of not taking up the position in one of Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants. Instead, she followed her own path which has guaranteed her success to date.