‘Hell’s Kitchen’ interview: Jessica Lewis talks elimination

Hell's KitchenSometimes on “Hell’s Kitchen,” it pays to have allies and make friends. If there is one thing that we took from our interview with Jessica Lewis this week about her elimination from the cooking contest, it is that she feels that her strategy inside of the game was much of the reason for her downfall. While she did make it past the first several weeks of the competition, a difficult dinner service involving the fish station caused her team to vote against her, and Gordon Ramsay then made the move to send her packing.

So is Jessica upset about her exit, and does she hold it against the Red Team that they put her in jeopardy at the end of the episode? Read on to find out, and if you want to check out some more recent “Hell’s Kitchen” interviews, you can do so at the link here.

Cartermatt.com – So how have the past 12 or so hours been for you? (Note that this interview was done early Wednesday morning.)

Jessica Lewis – I’ve only slept an hour and a half. I had a late bus last night from New York into Pennsylvania this morning. I did a local news cooking segment here in Allentown, where my hometown is.

Is that the sort of thing that is fun for you, and what you were hoping to do after ‘Hell’s Kitchen’?

Yes! I do. I’m hoping that it opens those doors up for me when it comes to cooking live on-air, showing my recipes, and my passion, which Chef Ramsay thought I lacked, with other people. It’s something that I’m hoping to do, and hoping to get from the show.

It was tough to see what Ramsay said, and there’s no questioning that this is one of the harder cooking shows out there. So why did you pick this one?

Because of Chef Ramsay. He is the cream of the crop. He is the best of the best. Just being able to work in his kitchen, see how he runs his kitchen, the level of perfection. It’s something that I wanted to see first-hand and wanted to experience. I had a great time, you know? It was a lot of fun … [He can be tough], but in a good way. He’s a mentor, he’s a coach, and he’s taught so many individuals how to cook, I’m sure. Just being there and learning from him was a great experience. The show did give me that perspective of what perfection looks like, and that’s what I want to get myself to.

You obviously knew what you were getting yourself into with Ramsay, but how did you handle the other part of this show in dealing with all of the people on your team?

Oh my gosh. There were lots of big personalities on the show, and I found it very difficult to deal with a lot of them. My strategy was to keep my head down, do those recipes, trust no one, because you don’t know who is going to backstab you or create an alliance. I went in there being myself: I was a complete team player and I helped everyone out, but I kept to myself a little too much. I didn’t make any close alliances or good friends on the show; I wanted my cooking to prove it on a show where so many things can go wrong so quickly, and that might have been maybe the wrong strategy. (Laughs.)

Do you think it would have helped you had you went out and tried to be a bigger personality to stay on the show?

I think it definitely would have helped me. I mean, watching these episodes every week, I was very serious. You never know how you’re going to look on national television. I do wish I showed more of my character and my personality, because that’s what got me on the show and that’s what my friends and my family know me for. I’m also a true competitor, and when I’m in that competition mode, I stay in it. I was very focused during the show, and that’s what you see on TV.

Let’s talk about what were some of the better moments for you. What was like winning those string of challenges with the red team where you got to travel to Vegas or to wine country?

I never expected to be flying on a private jet, meeting Celine Dion, or playing beach volleyball in Malibu and paddle-boarding.  They were amazing. Somehow, our women’s team just got the job done; we pushed each other, and we didn’t argue, especially compared to the men’s team. When we did go on the rewards they were amazing, but always in the back of my mind was ‘I really want to get back to Hell’s Kitchen’ and I’m being focused, because if you get like ‘I’m having such a great time’ on these rewards, the next minute you’re being screamed at by Chef Ramsay.

On the other hand, you’ve been on the losing end of a challenge, as well. What’s that feeling like?

It’s a terrible, terrible feeling, especially when you’re so close to winning. The men’s team, they win by a hair, and losing a challenge and having to eat those eggs was disgusting. I’ve heard it’s a delicacy in some country, definitely not where I’m from. I am a sore loser, I hate losing, so obviously when I left the show and now it’s bittersweet, because I feel like there’s a lot of chefs still on the show that I think I’m better than, but obviously it didn’t fall in my favor this time.

Did you get a sense during dinner service that you could be in trouble?

I did, mostly because the team bases our elimination on a couple of things. It’s the current dinner service along with your past history of dinner services. I didn’t have a bad [service] this week, but as far as being on the fish station, I chose to be the lead on that station with Jacqueline, so no matter what happened what came out of the fish station [was my responsibility] … If I chose to be the assist for that station, I would have been out of the spotlight and probably would have been saved. But I stuck my neck out there and said that I wanted to take on this station, and that night I had one raw halibut. Susan has sent up four raw lambs over the show so far; it’s a hard call to make. To me I don’t think it was difficult, but it was hard working with Susan because our communication was off on that challenge.

So one last question: are you rooting for the Red Team even though they put you up to go home?

I have no hard feelings. Everyone has to go eventually. I’m rooting for the other women. I hope they go really far, and I hope that all the black jackets are the women’s team. I do have my favorites, and I’ll be rooting for them to win.

Will you miss Jessica on the rest of “Hell’s Kitchen”? Be sure to sound off below!

Photo: Fox

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