Heather West ’03, Winner of Hell’s Kitchen
The confetti started to fly, people were cheering wildly, millions of viewers all over the world were on the edge of their seats. So what was going through the mind of Heather West, one of two finalists on the second season of FOX’s hit reality show “Hell’s Kitchen,” as she stood behind a closed door waiting for the winner to be announced?
“I thought I lost,” says the former sous chef from Port Jefferson, NY. “There was a shadow in front of my door. I guess it was a cameraman, but I thought Virginia (Dalbeck, the other finalist) won and then my door opened, surprisingly. I couldn’t believe it.”
Heather won, all right, and made believers out of a whole lot of people. She originally wanted to be on the reality show to prove that women can succeed under Chef Gordon Ramsey’s watchful eye, and to prove to her friends and family how strong and independent she is in the kitchen. She succeeded on both counts.
“Heather won ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ due to her determination,” Chef Ramsey explained to the cameras after the big announcement. “She stuck to what she knew best and she controlled her kitchen from start to finish. Heather clearly has great leadership qualities and this, for a 25-year-old cook, is a phenomenon. This woman is going to be a big success.”
Heather took the reins as senior chef at Terra Rossa, the Italian restaurant at the Red Rock Casino Resort and Spa in Las Vegas, NV—her reward for standing out among the show’s 12 competitors. In 2013, Heather returned to her east coast roots as executive chef at Ciao Baby restaurants in Commack and Massapequa Park on Long Island. “I’m so happy; I get to live my dream,” she says. “My life has just changed drastically.” The future looks bright indeed for one “hell” of a chef.