When the steam dissipated on the “Hell’s Kitchen” Season 18 finale, Ariel Fox stood alone as the winner of the first-ever Rookies vs. Veterans installment. But how does Ariel stack up against all of the other champions who’ve come before? Click through our updated photo gallery above that ranks all 18 “Hell’s Kitchen” winners from worst to best. While Ariel isn’t my #1 choice of all time, she’s thisclose to topping my rankings.
Veteran Ariel prevailed during the February 8, 2019 episode against Rookie Mia Castro. People who only watched the finale were no doubt shocked by the end result, as the episode was edited to make Ariel look like the underdog. Chef Gordon Ramsay gave Ariel countless tweaks on her final dishes, while he praised all of Mia’s plates. Ariel’s team was then shown to be struggling in finishing dinner service as Bret Hauser undercooked the chicken, while Mia’s team practically went off without a hitch.
However, fans of the entire “Hells Kitchen” season knew that Ariel was the overwhelming favorite to claim victory. After previously coming in third place back in Season 6, she returned and became the only chef to never appear in the bottom two. Ariel also seemed to be Ramsay’s teacher’s pet from day one, being the first person to receive a black jacket and the first he named as a member of the final three.
Speaking about Ariel’s victory, Ramsay raved, “Since the first time she was here, Ariel has grown tenfold as a chef. She is fiercely talented, extremely determined and a commanding leader. I could not be more pleased to have her as my executive chef of Hell’s Kitchen in Las Vegas.” She also earns a cool salary of $250,000.
Some of the other winning chefs who make up our top picks of all time include Michael Wray (Season 1), Rahman “Rock” Harper (Season 3), Dave Levey (Season 6), Christina Wilson (Season 10) and Kimberly-Ann “Ryan” Ryan (Season 16). See our full rankings from worst to best in our photo gallery and then be sure to give us your thoughts down in the comments section.