Last week, my husband Guy and I got the rare opportunity to experience eating at Gordon Ramsey’s Hell’s Kitchen! My husband and I have been fans of Fox’s Hell’s Kitchen for years, so actually dining at Gordon Ramsey’s infamous restaurant with would-be chefs in the making was a dream come true!
Here’s the inside scoop on our dining experience with details about what it’s like to dine under the cameras and amidst the chaos of Hell’s Kitchen!
GETTING ON THE SHOW
People always want to know how to get tickets to Hell’s Kitchen and for good reason.
It’s NOT easy.
My husband and I both work in the entertainment industry and we have several friends who work on the show. That’s the short and sweet version of how we made it there, but even then, we missed the initial calls trying to confirm our reservation and at the very last-minute, they squeezed us in!
It was incredibly kind of the good people in casting to do so for us because we don’t get a fun date night out very often and we had our babysitter all lined up in anticipation. There are waivers to sign too-that’s the norm when you appear on camera for any show! It’s also super important that none of the guests dining in the restaurant have any food allergies.
You have to eat what they serve you! If you get any food at all…….
THE ARRIVAL and WHAT TO WEAR
Hell’s Kitchen is a fine dining restaurant, so the dress code is upscale casual. I chose black slacks, a color-block blouse with black and white on the bottom and turquoise at the neck, a yellow clutch, and gold stilettos! My husband Guy wore a nice suit minus the tie!
Our taping was set for a Monday night. Hell’s Kitchen films in Van Nuys, CA these days so it wasn’t a long drive for us at all which is good because you need to arrive well before the typical dinner hours. They suggest you have a snack before the show in case one of the two teams gets kicked out of the kitchen and you go home hungry!
We were greeted by friendly security and then drove to the entrance of the restaurant where a gorgeous red carpet awaited and valet staff took our car for us. Casting staff met us on the red carpet and took us to a beautiful spacious room draped in black curtains where about 30 people were already ahead of us. The tables were set with appetizers like cheese plates and fruit, as well as choices of wine, beer, or soft drinks. White comfy couches, lounge tables, and a coat check made the ambience complete! The staff came across as genuine, kind, attentive, and happy. They took our picture and made us feel like valued guests! Casting went out of their way to tell us that they knew we were on date night and wanted to be sure and squeeze us in. So kind!! A great start to a fantastic evening!
A waiter eventually greeted us and offered a leather-bound menu so that we could pre-select both our appetizer and our entrees of which there were two choices. We both chose the same appetizer but different entrees. More on that soon!
One of our friends came down from her office to say hello so we passed the time chatting with her and catching up. WE LOVE HER, and not just because she helped us get in to the show. J
There are no bathrooms in the actual restaurant so if you have to take care of business, there are wagons set up with porta-potties but it’s not what you think. These babies are glamorous!
It’s almost like stepping into a “real” bathroom-nice dark wood paneling, beautiful sinks with large mirrors, several doors to choose from, and places to set your belongings down while you do your thing. Think the Taj Mahal of outhouses!
Eventually, we were taken in small groups to the red carpet, lined up, and told our table number. I love booths so I was hoping we would get one of the few available. Sure enough, they gave us a booth! I took Guy’s arm and then much like waiting to walk down the aisle for a wedding ceremony, we made our way a few seconds behind the couple in front of us and walked down the hallway leading into Hell’s Kitchen. Portraits of past Hell’s Kitchen winners graced the walls.
We walked up a couple of steps past a chic bar area, strolled past TV cameras that zoomed in for close-ups, and were taken straight to our booth to one side of the restaurant.
Hell’s Kitchen did not seem like a set-it was stunning!
The decor was absolutely beautiful. Modern chandeliers hung from the ceiling, the tables were draped in fine linens, and the soft gray suede of our high-backed booth allowed us to dine in comfort. Our waitress was friendly and quick to smile. We spent time chatting with her and trying to understand exactly what the process would be for the evening. She brought us our beverages-wine, soda, sparkling water, and beer as well as a bread basket filled with no less than 5 varieties of breads and butter. We dug in!
The ambience was perfection. Elegant. Shades of white, silver, gold, and turquoise graced the walls, tables, chairs, and overall decor. The restaurant itself was quieter than I anticipated, and MUCH HOTTER. They don’t call it Hell’s Kitchen for nothing, people. We were sweating-but that was the only discomfort. The restaurant was truly beautiful!
Across the dining room, Gordon Ramsey stood sweating with a pencil behind his ear and a serious look on his face. The kitchen was HUMMING and there was DRAMA, although I can’t tell you of what nature since the show has not yet aired. Chef Ramsey clearly takes his role as a mentor and master chef seriously and I was thankful that he was there to inspect the food we would soon (hopefully!) be eating. He wasn’t at all distracted by the cameras or dozens of diners in the room. It was exciting to watch and definitely surreal to see the master at work!
Not everyone in the restaurant had the same experience we did, but you will have to watch the episodes to find out!
We prayed that our food would actually arrive at our tables. There have been plenty of diners who didn’t get further than a beverage on this show. It’s rare to make it all the way through the service and Guy and I were prepared to hit an In-N-Out Burger afterwards if necessary.
The maitre de passed our table and Guy asked him where he was from in Italy. They compared birth origins and bonded over their Italian heritage. With a final, “Prego” he resumed his duties.
And then course 1 arrived-our appetizers. We both chose a butternut squash soup instead of a red beet salad.
YUM. It was absolutely delicious. The presentation was delectable too-the warm orange shade of the soup was offset by a light green oil swirled throughout the soup and a nest of toasted nuts in the center. We ate every last bite.
Our amazing waitress never let our glasses get half empty. The service was excellent but they also need to keep glasses full for aesthetics for the cameras!
Camera men stealthily moved about from table to table as food came out to the guests so they could capture reactions.
And then our entrees arrived!
I had a filet with mashed potatoes and asparagus and Guy had sea bass with a bacon and navy bean broth with asparagus. Filet Mignon is my absolute favorite meal so this was truly a blessing! Mine was cooked to perfection with savory gravy in an artful display on the plate. Guy’s sea bass was underwhelming-a bit overcooked and lacking in flavor. He comforted himself with bites of my filet. Ha!
We were pretty full at this point, but hoping dessert would come.
And wouldn’t you know it? Another of my favorites.
Molten chocolate cake with vanilla bean ice cream, macadamia nuts, and blueberries.
It. Was. So. Good.
With the first bite, the liquid chocolate spilled out like lava and the rest was history. I simply couldn’t finish the one last morsel lingering on my plate and I watched sadly as the waitress removed it from our table.
Then, a special surprise.
A nicely dressed man came to our table and told us that he heard we were on date night and that they wanted to offer us champagne! He assured us that they would be happy to take care of our car and call a taxi cab on them if we needed it. We wouldn’t need it-everything in moderation-but it was generous of them to offer!
Guy and I wanted coffee but we were stuffed to the gills at this point. Shortly after we finished our dessert and champagne, our wonderful waitress thanked us and let us know it was time to go.
We shimmied out of the elegant booth and made our way past the cameras and down the luxurious red carpet once again. We gave our ticket to the valet and shortly thereafter we drove away from Hell’s Kitchen, deeply satisfied and pampered. If you ever get the chance to be a part of the show, take it! It was a highlight for us and one of the best date nights we have ever had. It may be called Hell’s Kitchen, but for us, it was heavenly.
Be sure to watch Hell’s Kitchen on Fox each week!!
YOUR TURN! Do you watch Hell’s Kitchen? Have you always wanted to dine under Gordon Ramsey’s protégés too? What surprised you about our experience? Have you ever been to a TV taping before?