Turns out getting on Gordon Ramsay's shouty television show Hell's Kitchen might be easier than showing up for a casting call. A tipster writes in to let us know that a casting agent has been wandering around Manhattan, going to restaurants that "seem hot," and asking if any of the cooks want to join the show. Apparently this a strategy to "weed out all the weirdos" that show up at casting calls.
All of the cooks at this particular restaurant demurred (if you can demur with "audible laughter"), but hey! There's still that $250,000 prize on the line! All you have to do is demonstrate your "varied culinary experience" amongst the "lame, the halt and the delusional" and risk get yelled at for overcooking a Beef Wellington. Here's the email:
I work as the host of a busy, sort of hip downtown Manhattan restaurant. This past weekend, after brunch service and before dinner service — around 5PM — a young guy walked in, I asked him if he wanted a table, he said that he was here for another reason than to dine, actually: he wanted to know if anyone in the kitchen wanted to star in season 9 of Gordon Ramsay's Hell's Kitchen. The show was taping in a few weeks, they'd get flown to LA, compensated for four weeks of work and be the star of a top-rated national TV show.
I told him to have a seat while I went downstairs to the kitchen to ask. I told the chef, who was working in the office, what was going on — he couldn't believe it. What a lark. "Sure go ask the boys in the kitchen" he said. Walked to the line where a bunch of cooks were prepping for service, and said "Hey, any of you guys want to be on Hell's Kitchen with Gordon Ramsay? There's a guy upstairs that wants to talk to you." Their response was audible laughter, and a few wise cracks about what a hack Gordon Ramsay is.
So, went back upstairs and told the guy, who was now seated at the bar, that, sorry, all of our chefs were fully committed right now. He said "Oh well, of course they're working right now. But if they were interested, we'd work with them, help them find time off, compensate them," etc. I told him, no, thanks for asking, but nobody was interested.
I then proceeded to ask him a few questions about the nature of the casting call. Turns out he just goes around Manhattan to different busy restaurants, comes in and asks managers and hosts point blank if anyone wants to be on the show, then ideally spends a few minutes of face time with the chefs on the spot, and tells them to send in their videos and to let him know when they do so. Meeting them before they apply helps weed out all the weirdos and expedites the casting process.
When I asked him how he decided to come to our restaurant, he said that he'd never actually dined there before, but he just went around to places that seemed hot — earlier that day he'd hit up all the eateries on the infamous "Restaurant Row" of 46th St., and now he was making his way downtown.
So, there you go. Getting on a big TV cooking competition show is probably a lot easier than you think.
Would you go on the show if a casting agent pulled you aside?