Cooking skills vs. people skills. That is essentially what it came down to during the “Hell’s Kitchen” finale on February 8, 2019, when Ariel Fox, a veteran who came in third on Season 6, won the 18th season of FOX’s reality cooking show staple. She regularly earned high scores for her dishes in reward challenges. But, more importantly, she was the one chef who was never considered for elimination among the 16. Her lone major sin? When Ariel accidentally served raw fish to Tilly, Gordon Ramsay‘s daughter, during her Sweet 16 celebration on episode 8, causing her team to be kicked out of the kitchen.
But her friendly rival, Mia Castro — aka the “Challenge Queen” — won all but two of the rewards challenges all season. She also wanted to establish early on that just because she is pretty, has a great smile and is petite, she is not to be messed with. That caused her to sometimes clash with veterans Heather Williams, a runner-up in Season 16, and Bret Hauser, whose attitude towards women isn’t exactly evolved. But Mia often lacked focus during dinner services, especially when it came to keeping track of orders and communication with her team.
Ultimately, it came down to who Ramsay thought was most deserving to be the executive chef at his new Hell’s Kitchen flagship restaurant at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas — which comes with a $250,000 salary. And he picked Ariel. His reasoning? “Since the first time she was here, Ariel has grown 10-fold as a chef. She is fiercely talented, extremely determined and a commanding leader.” So there you have it.
However, was I the only one to think it strange that Ramsay had not one negative to say about Mia’s dinner service dishes. But then he tasted all of Ariel’s food and had a criticism about each and every one of them. Even odder, he told her exactly how to elevate them and encouraged her to serve mackerel again.
Well, what is done is done — and in the case of some of the food served this season, overdone. But here is your chance to spout off if you think that the best chef did or didn’t win Season 18. Take this poll and also leave whatever other thoughts you have in the comment section.