Cali Szczawinski never applied to be on Hotel Hell, but she has now become one of the most memorable owners ever featured on the show.
Hotel Hell certainly showcased a variety of out-of-the-box personalities during its three-season run on television, but few of the show’s shocking, unexpected and downright wacky moments compare to the moment where the usually straight-faced Gordon Ramsay burst out laughing at Cali Szczawinski’s live rendition of ‘If I Could Turn Back Time’ by Cher.
How Cali Szczawinski and the Meson de Mesilla was cast on the show
However, it turns out that though Cali may now always be known as ‘that’ owner from Hotel Hell’s Meson de Mesilla, she actually did not apply to be on the show herself.
Cali shared with the team at Las Cruces Sun-News more than ten years ago that she actually had no idea how the Hotel Hell producers found her struggling hotel.
According to Cali, she received a call from a Hotel Hell producer asking her if she knew about Ramsay’s other show, Hell’s Kitchen, before asking her if she would be interested in being featured on his new show, Hotel Hell. Of course, the rest of the story is now history.
And even though Cali ultimately ended up selling Meson de Mesilla to new owners in 2017, the added notoriety from her brief stint as a reality television-star may have just helped to set her singing career back on track.
How long did it take Cali to get on Hotel Hell?
Cali may not have been entirely sure exactly how she and her hotel were chosen to be profiled in the premiere episode of Hotel Hell second season, but it seems like the entire process must have been quite the whirlwind.
All in all, there was just over a year from the moment that Cali agreed to be on the series, to the moment that the “Meson de Mesilla” episode first premiered, as follows:
|Cali gets the call from the Hotel Hell producer and the process starts
|Gordon Ramsay and the Hotel Hell crew arrive in Las Cruces, New Mexico, to start filming for the episode
|July 21, 2014
|The “Meson de Mesilla” episode premieres
Meson de Mesilla’s issues started long before it appeared on Hotel Hell
While it may be quite shocking to hear that Meson de Mesilla has now been sold to new owners, this change is not all that shocking when you know Cali’s complete history with the hotel.
It turns out that when Cali originally purchased the property, she renovated and opened it as a jazz-club, which would also explain the mage stage areas.
Then, a few years later the jazz club’s chef offered to purchase the business and Cali accepted. But when this chef withdrew from the deal last minute, Cali was left with a business that she had written off, and no employees, which is why she decided to lease it instead.
However, her tenants then also walked out on their lease a few years later and she was forced to keep Meson de Mesilla operational in order to cover her expenses.
It seems as though Cali never really grew to love Meson de Mesilla’s makeover
Cali’s signing was not the only thing that made the “Meson de Mesilla” Hotel Hell episode so memorable, and you may remember that Ramsay actually offered to undo his entire makeover when she was not happy at the end of the episode.
And while you may have thought that Ramsay’s décor would have grown on Cali as time went on, this does not seem to be the case.
When Cali announced that she would be bringing in a silent partner in 2016, she claimed that Ramsay “didn't do anything [she] could keep”.
So in the end, it seems like Cali ended up getting rid of Ramsay’s new décor after the episode aired, anyway.
Cali is still singing – though you may not recognize her right away
If you are a longtime Hotel Hell fan, then you may know that many of the show’s featured owners tend to drop off the map after their episodes air, due to the public scrutiny, financial issues and a whole host of other reasons.
So it is quite difficult to find any kind of social media pages for Cali Szczawinski online, but the trick is to look into her stage name.
Cali, whose stage name is Cali McCord, actually has her very own website. And though her last public performance was more than three years ago, this website does detail a few different impressions and over 100 songs that Cali enjoys to perform.