The ancients used to say that “it’s better to be infamous than to be unknown.” In large part, those old sages were talking about conquerors, warlords, and revolutionaries – not arrogant chefs with inflated egos. Still, some of the most memorable contestants on Hell’s Kitchen are also some of the craziest, meanest, or dullest.
On the flip side, there are also plenty of talented chefs who made history thanks to their skill and lovable personalities. This one’s dedicated to those memorable Hell’s Kitchen contestants from both the talented and the talentless.
10 Jeff LaPoff
Poor Jeff, this man quit the show back in Season 1! Jeff LaPoff lacked any experience working in any other kitchen beside his own. Contrary to most other HK contestants, Jeff didn’t work as a chef full-time or even part-time. No, LaPoff as a financial manager who dabbled in Culinary Arts from time to time.
Unfortunately, LaPoff’s inexperience made him a burden to his teams – and a target for chef Ramsay’s vicious roasts. When the ultimately got too hot for him, Jeff quite – making history as the first contestant to ever quit Hell’s Kitchen!
9 Heather West
This Season 2 champion earned her victory – both literally and figuratively taking some serious heat during her time on the show. West gained a huge fanbase thanks to her impressive cooking skills and friendly demeanor. As Season 2 progressed, it became clear that most viewers wanted Heather to win.
But what the moment that made her a fan favorite was the “burn incident.” While helping Maribel Miller, Heather got received a second-degree burn – an injury that may have taken out a lesser person. But West ultimately persevered and won Season 2 – earning an executive chef position at the Red Rock Resort Spa and Casino!
8 Vincent Fama
Vincent Fama is far from the worst chef in HK history (we’re not even at the halfway mark for this article yet.) Most contestants become infamous for their toxic personalities or their whack cooking skills. In truth, Vinny wasn’t all that rude to his teammates nor was he a terrible cook.
However, Vinny made the mistake of becoming enemies with Gordon Ramsay himself! Whenever he got the chance, Vinny would backtalk Gordon and act disrespectfully towards his boss in general. We can’t say that Vinny got booted specifically for his feud with Gordon, but we know it didn’t help him in the long-run.
7 Jason Underwood
Trash cooking skills and a misogynist world view – this guy’s a real catch! Unlike Vinny, Jason Underwood had a clear chip on his shoulder towards anyone lacking a Y chromosome. Throughout Season 4, we heard Jason verbally insult women as well as talk about beating female contestants!
Underwood was such a hate-sink, we’re almost certain most of his antics were thought up by the producers. The guy isn’t even cooking anymore – at least, according to his Twitter bio. But if Jason’s antics aren’t fake, we hope that he’s learned some humility by now.
6 David Cordio
Hopping from one sexist to another, we land on David Cordio – a Season 6 chef that didn’t even make it past the first service!
It’s almost impressive to burn out so dramatically, and so suddenly, on a show like Hell’s Kitchen. Think about it like this; in the span of a single episode, Cordio made himself out as one of the most despicable contestants in the show’s history! That’s even faster than Jason’s time, by our record.
5 Dave Levey
Ah, at last – some positive male representation up in this piece! Who could forget David Levey – the “One-Armed Bandit” from Season 6? Levey was a charming, amicable, and talented chef that made history similarly to Heather. Early in Season 6, David fractured his wrist – suffering an injury that would’ve caused most others to justifiably quit the show.
But Dave dug in deep and fought his way through the entire competition – earning Gordon’s respect and a mass of adoring fans. By the end of the Season, David won a Head Chef position at the Araxi Restaurant & Bar!
4 Russell Kook
Credit where cred’ts due – at least Russell Kook made it to the finals in Season 8. It’s just a shame that his disposition started to dip as he rose higher and higher on the show. Initially a personable enough chef, Rus gradually became a jerk with his huge ego and little respect for his peers.
Still, Kook could cook – making him one of those figures that you hate to love. Through a combination of underhanded practices and sheer talent, Rus made it all the way to end of Season 8. To this day, there probably hasn’t been a chef as undeniably despicable yet talented as Kook.
3 Ranjit Brandston
We’re honestly pretty sure this guy bought his cooking license in the Black Market. Or maybe he forged a deal with the Devil to earn his way on the show. In any event, Raj’s skills (or lack thereof) easily made him one of the most hated chefs in the show’s history.
Scratch that – Raj is easily the most despicable contestant in the history of HK! Unlike Jason Underwood or David Cordio, Raj didn’t have a toxic personality. However, he lacked any situational awareness, common sense, or cooking skills. Again, we partially suspect that Raj could’ve been a product of the producers’ making – much like Snooki from Jersey Shore. We just don’t want to believe that a person could be as clueless as Raj!
2 Rochelle Bergman
Rochelle is hands down the most popular chef from season 12 – and arguably the most beloved cook in the show’s entire history.
That’s why so many fans of the series were heartbroken when she didn’t win her respective Season. Hell, even Gordon Ramsay loved her passion and impressive cooking skills! As it stands, Rochelle’s returned to his previous profession, working as a Catering Chef in California.
1 Barbie Marshall
Barbie Marshall is probably the only contestant who’s arguably more memorable and loved than Rochelle. You’ve always got to root for the underdogs, especially when you see them try their hardest to beat impossible odds.
Initially, Barbie placed 4th in Season 10 despite giving a very strong performance. However, she came back in Season 17 and kicked butt before placing 9th. Now Barbie works as a private chef and restaurant consultant – proving that her skills and personality weren’t just for show.
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