Kori Sutton Wins ‘Hell’s Kitchen,’ Seventh Consecutive Female Winner
For the seventh consecutive season a female has won Gordon Ramsay’s long-running show Hell’s Kitchen. Winners are notoriously awarded a head chef position, and a quarter of a million dollar salary, at one of Ramsay’s upscale restaurants.
Kori Sutton Wins ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ Season 19
Kori Sutton is the winner of Hell’s Kitchen Season 19. This is the first season filmed in Las Vegas. The prize is a head chef position at the Hell’s Kitchen Restaurant in Lake Tahoe with a salary of a quarter of a million dollars.
“The winner of Hell’s Kitchen and the next head chef of Hell’s Kitchen Lake Tahoe…is…a woman!” announced Ramsay after the final dinner service.
The low-key jokester broke into laughs along with the rest of the chefs before returning to his office to make his decision. When it came time for the iconic big reveal, it was Sutton who walked through the door.
This season, 18 highly competitive chefs began the competition with two contestants eliminated in the very first episode. The season was filled with notable guest chef judges such as Aaron Sanchez and Wolfgang Puck.
Although Sutton started the competition as a quiet competitor, she showed leadership and team unity throughout the season. After earning a black jacket, Kori really began to emerge as a contender thanks to her creativity and cultural dishes.
Sutton competed against Chef de Cuisine Mary Lou Davis during the notorious final dinner service. Everyone’s favorite purple-haired Texan gave it her all, but her lack of experience proved her downfall. Sutton won the night due to her leadership skills and powerful voice in the kitchen.
The 37 year old Los Angeles head chef has a teenage son, Koa, who she regularly mentions throughout the competition. She reminded herself in various on-camera moments that she’s competing in order to make his life better.
Why Do Female Chefs Keep Winning ‘Hell’s Kitchen’?
In this season’s semi-final competition where the top three competed for a spot in the finale, All Star’s winner Michelle Tribble, acted as sue chef for Chef Declan. While the two prepared Declan’s menu she remarked that he had a chance to be the first male winner in seven seasons.
Considering the majority of the show is meant to be based on teamwork, it seems the female chefs just work better together. The women seem more capable of putting their egos to the side. Time and again we see the red team put the team’s needs above individual goals, leading to victories.
In fact, only six out of the 19 winners of Hell’s Kitchen have been men. As a super fan of the show who rewatched every episode throughout my COVID-19 quarantine, I have some thoughts on why:
1. The male chefs let their egos get in the way
So often, the blue team, which has always started out as “the men’s team,” is filled with chefs who are used to being in control. They’re power-hungry chefs setting out to prove their skill to the renowned Ramsay. Unfortunately, with this much testosterone in one small kitchen, egos get bruised and drama unfolds.
More often on the blue team, chefs get put up for elimination just to stop issues between contestants who think they are “leaders,” but may really just be bumping heads with fellow competitors. Fans have seen dozens of promising and skilled chefs get eliminated because they couldn’t get along with teammates.
2. They tend to be more hotheaded and quick to anger
This season’s lovable Irishman Declan is a perfect example of this. Before making it to the final three, Declan was put up for elimination multiple times because of his temper. While he was actually more mild than some male chefs we’ve seen in the past (anyone remember season 6’s Joseph Tinnelly?), what he called “passion” was interpreted as anger by his teammates who tried to eliminate him.
3. They don’t think they need to try as hard
Another classic mistake by Hell’s Kitchen blue team members is not feeling as though they need to pull out all their skills. Over the years, head chefs of Michelin starred restaurants have been eliminated early on as they seem to lack fire and creativity.
Some of these chefs who are used to being the boss in their own kitchens decide to rest on their heels leading to early eliminations. This season’s Adam Pawlak, the executive chef and owner of Egg & Flour in Milwaukee is a prime example. Despite being a frontrunner, Adam was eliminated in episode nine, the same episode in which he said he planned to coast his way through to the end. Oops.
‘Hell’s Kitchen’ Provides Much-Needed Exposure for Female Chefs
Hell’s Kitchen isn’t entirely unproblematic: hello, still breaking the teams into Men Versus Women? Chefs are forced to choose one binary gender with which to identify in order to even compete on the show.
Not to mention the male versus female dynamic sets the season up to be riddled with sexist comments. Members of the men’s teams throughout the series frequently refers to the opposing red team as “the girls.” Inevitably, anytime there is an ounce of drama, the red team is compared to “a bunch of high school girls” or “a bunch of chickens.” Most concerning was the epically dramatic Season 3 in which Ramsay himself begins referring to the red team as “Hell’s Bitches.” No thank you.
Nevertheless, the show, and Ramsay, has made huge progress in the way women are portrayed in the food industry. Season 10 winner, Christina Wilson, is still featured on the show. Now, as sous chef to the red team.
Wilson has spoken openly about how the mentorship with Ramsay changed her life and opened doors to opportunities she never would have expected. Both the men’s blue teams and women’s red teams each season all have the utmost respect for Chef Christina who not only walked in their shoes, but has become a powerful player in the food world herself.
What’s Next for ‘Hell’s Kitchen’?
Don’t think for a moment Ramsay will be giving his voice a rest. He just opened yet another restaurant, Lucky Cat in London. He always seems to be posting TikTok videos with his daughter, Tilly. Despite all of these mega-important commitments, Hell’s Kitchen Season 20 is already set to premiere on May 31 on Fox.
This next season will also be filmed in Las Vegas and will be called Young Guns. Each of the 18 competing chefs will be under the age of 23 by the time the competition starts meaning it’s bound to be even more fast-paced and dramatic than previous seasons.