Christina Wilson (WINNER of Hell’s Kitchen Season 10 & Executive Chef at Gordon Ramsey Steak) Dishes About HK, her Girl, & What She’ll Miss Most About Philly

Philly’s own Christina Wilson has had a whirlwind week since the finale of Hell’s Kitchen aired on FOX last week: press interview after press interview, rubbing elbows with celebrities in LA, and she’s already donning her chef whites and beginning training for her new position as Executive Chef at Gordon Ramsey Steak.

Christina took some time out of her hectic schedule to chat with us about her Hell’s Kitchen experience, including her favorite and least favorite parts, being “out” on national television and the first meal she ever cooked her girlfriend, and what she’ll miss most about Philadelphia.

Q: What has been the most important thing you’ve learned throughout your Hell’s Kitchen experience?
CW:
On a personal level, I learned what my grandmother meant when she said to have grace under pressure. I learned that even when pushed, I more times than not have the patience of Job.  And that nearly every interaction we have with someone else in this life, there’s something we can give and something we can take.  Be sure to do both.

On a  professional level, I’ve learned to cook with more confidence and to raise my standard and always maintain it.  It’s so important to keep food consistent if you want to truly respect your craft.  If you want to make money, turn and burn through every Friday and Saturday, then cut all the corners you want.  If you want to keep cooking an actual culinary art, treat it as such.

Gordon Ramsey Steak

Chef Christina Wilson, Executive Chef at Gordon Ramsey Steak

Q: What was your favorite part of the experience? Your least favorite part?
CW:
My favorite part of the experience was the amount I learned in the weeks I spent with my castmates, Chef Ramsay and Chef Andi.  It was an incredible training ground, and I learned more in those six weeks than I did in a combined four plus years at my last two restaurants.

My least favorite part was the time spent watching my female castmates get downright vile with each other.  I grew up with boys, so I was never exposed to that kind of fighting.  The things that were said on TV and the things that were edited out should never be said, especially one woman to another.  I can appreciate that most of it was based on circumstance, but it was really hard for me.  I think it also took away incredibly from what integrity is left of the show.  While some were fighting with each other, there was a handful of us with our heads down just cooking.  It’s unfortunate that being dedicated to your profession pulls in less ratings than verbal attacks.

Q: You’ve been very out with your sexuality on the show, often times referring to your girl, and having your girlfriend & mom fly out twice to be with you. Did you ever have any reservations about being open on national television about the fact that you’re dating a woman?
CW:
Absolutely not.  I never hide or deny who I am. I don’t think that I’m doing anything wrong, so there’s nothing to be reserved about. There are times I’m conscious of who’s around me and I can be respectful of different views, but at the end of the day, I was putting MYSELF out there on national TV. It certainly wasn’t the time for me to be something I’m not. And I didn’t feel like I brought it up to just say, ‘hey, I’m gay.’ It didn’t come out until the David Beckham episode and wasn’t revisited until there were four of us left and the audience got to see me interact with my girlfriend. I also don’t identify as a lesbian first.  It’s probably about the 5th or 6th thing I’d identify with, behind woman, daughter, sister, aunt, chef, Capricorn…not sure if that makes sense to people, but it’s not something I bring up just to bring up.  It’s just me. 

Christina and Sara share an emotional embrace during the finale of Hell’s Kitchen.

Q: Piggybacking off of that last question – we saw a news piece that described Sara as “surprisingly cute” – the implied logic being they either didn’t think you’d be with an attractive woman, or that lesbians in general are unattractive. Do you think the majority of people out there still have misconceptions about lesbian/queer women?
CW:
<laughs> That comment really stood out to me too! I asked Sara, “Do I have the face of a pug and nobody’s ever told me?”  Seriously, what’s so surprising that I can rope in an attractive, intelligent, successful female?  I do think that there is a good part of our population that still bases their opinions about lesbians on some type of gym teacher, with short hair stereotype.

I personally think that sexuality is in a constant state of revolution. And as females get stronger individually and together, many of the gender roles based on what is a historically patriarchal society are being pushed. I’m not suggesting that all strong females are gay or even enjoy the romantic company of woman or that it is exclusive of men; I think that as gender roles continue to evolve, we as people are more willing to do what feels right rather than what is expected.

Q: Do you remember the first meal you ever cooked for Sara? Why that particular meal?
CW:
Coincidentally enough, it was risotto!  <laughs>  Sara is a vegetarian, I love cooking risotto and she never really had any that she particularly liked.  I made brussel sprouts braised with balsamic brown sugar, thyme and garlic and finished with sea salt as a side. That one I was worried about. She loves brussels, and I knew she was going to be a little more critical of those.

Q: Has being on Hell’s Kitchen changed the way that people treat you?
CW:
My actual tight circle of friends and family, no, not really at all. They’re beyond proud of me and super supportive, but they’re still my people as I’m still their girl.  Strangers and that kind of second tier of family and friends, yes.  I’ve been joking that nobody wanted to visit me in Philly to have my cooking before!!  <laughs> Now I’m on TV and my boss is kind of a stud and I’m already on a wait list for who’s coming to Vegas!  It’s truly great though.  I love it!! And for the most part, I’m so happy to be reconnected with people on a positive note rather than a negative one.  Life happens, people lose touch. I’m really happy that this is what has brought me back together with so many amazing people.  And best friend or loose acquaintance, I would love to have as many visitors as possible in Vegas.

Q: What’s your personal favorite meal, and why?
CW: Caprese salad in mid-June; Grilled ribeye with butter, mac and cheese, grilled asparagus.  I blame it on my grandfather. He used to always say, “Stop being so g-damn simple.” Guess I never outgrew it.

Q: Philly is definitely a foodie city. What are some of your favorite spots to dine out?
CW:
Oh boy…that’s a fun one.  Osteria, Stateside, Cafe Estelle, Parc, Tampopo, Circles, The Farmer’s Cabinet, Fork, Amada, Dahlak, Fond, Marly’s (Phoenixville), The Farmer and the Fisherman, to name just a few.

Q: What went through your head on the finale of Hell’s Kitchen when you turned the door and it opened?
CW:
As I stood in front of my door, I asked myself if I did the very best that I could have. Despite my missteps throughout the competition, did I give it my all tonight? Was I the best I could have been under the circumstances, was I the best leader for my team, did I live up to Chef Ramsay’s standard and expectation and did I give Justin all the fight I had left inside of me? As cheesy as it sounds, I truly asked myself these questions, answered yes to all of them, took a deep breath and waited for Chef to finish counting to 3.

When my handle turned all the way down and my door opened, I was truly surprised. Not surprised that I had won. Quite honestly, editing worked in Justin’s favor and my squad slaughtered his by about 6 tickets and finishing nearly 40 minutes before they did.  (If you notice us saying thank you to our team, Dana isn’t in my kitchen because she had already been pulled for confessional) I was surprised that it was over. I was surprised that in that moment, it was solidified for me that dreams really can come true if you fight hard enough to make them happen. I was once told not to follow my dreams, but to lead them.  It worked.  And I stood there with my face buried in my hands, reveling in the fact that I had just made it happen; that I had just gotten a group of four to cook their hearts out for me.

Christina reacts as she wins Hell’s Kitchen Season 10

Q: We know this was taped months ago, but what was it like watching it again on TV? Did you feel like you were reliving the moment?
CW:
Even though this episode was taped about 16 months ago, I most definitely felt like I was reliving the moment. One, because I had to push it out of my head as we were bound by contract not to talk about it. Two, because it was the first time I was seeing the episode post edit. And mostly because I was once again filled with an immense sense of pride.

My team did such a great job. They prepped a new and very intensive menu for hours before service. They cooked with everything inside of them after a grueling six weeks of filming. We were all hanging on by a thread that night, but they dug deep, found that place that’s so familiar to chefs, athletes and other likewise professionals. They put all ego and differences aside and gave me a chance to fight for my dream job. Also, to see my mom and Sara filled with anticipation, near tears and barely able to look at the doors; that was my first time seeing the course of their emotions. And it was just brilliant. Two of the most supportive women in my life, just waiting on that door to open.

Q: How soon after the finale aired did you relocate to Vegas?
CW:
After the finale aired, I spent that next Tuesday in LA doing press. Wednesday I caught an early morning flight to Vegas, and was in my chef whites by noon and on the schedule for the rest of the week.  While I wasn’t actually able to cook because there were some certifications and orientations I had to complete as per Vegas regulations, I was being taught the flow of the line, the role of head chef and the standard of which the food must meet before hitting the customer’s table.  In between my time under Chef Kevin Hee in the kitchen, I was studying my manual – which has to weigh at least 8 pounds – so that I am as prepared as possible when my intensive 6 week training begins on September 27.

Until then, I am shaking hands, kissing babies and learning what it means to work at one of Gordon Ramsay’s most successful restaurants to date. (Gordon Ramsey Steak brought in $1.5 million in revenue in the first month, are booked through Christmas on weekends, and on a three-day wait for weekday reservations outside of 530 and 930 tables).

Q: What are you going to miss most about Philadelphia?
CW:
Obviously, I will miss the greatest group of friends I am truly blessed to have surrounding me. I’ll miss gay day in October, Henry’s attitude at Venture Inn, the Giants v. Eagles rivalry, honey crisp apple season, dive bars, the Broad Street Line, riding my bike, Capogiro coffee, the tightknit restaurant scene, trips to Cape May, Byron (who was my right hand man at my last restaurant), fig trees in South Philly back yards, the puppy window on 12th street, Tara Murtha’s articles in Philly Weekly, sitting at the park at 13th and Reed, Ali’s Mediterranean on Temple’s campus, watching the leaves change, the hop skip and jump it takes to get to NYC. Mostly I’ll miss the change of seasons and the comfortable, blue collar grittiness that was always so charming to me about Philly.

Like Christina’s Facebook page to stay up-to-date on her Vegas life: https://www.facebook.com/chefchristinawilson

Leave a Comment

Powered by WordPress | Warrington Web Design & SEO by The Creative Cachet