Where are the Hell's Kitchen winners now? From Michael Wray to Ariel Contreras

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Like everyone who makes it out of the reality show sausage factory, Hell's Kitchen winners have left the evil designs of Chef Ramsay and TV producers far behind.

In its heyday, Hell's Kitchen was probably the most notorious cooking competition on television. Raw seabass and misplaced lamb sauce made for compelling viewing when they were accompanied by an angry, blonde chef.

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However, despite the stresses and strains, there were contestants who managed to master the pressure of both a high-stakes competition and a high-end restaurant.

Gordon Ramsay Hell's Kitchen (Credit: Fox) Gordon Ramsay puts the chefs through their paces on Hell's Kitchen (Credit: Fox)

Where are the Hell's Kitchen winners now?

All Hell's Kitchen winners now know that the show is perhaps the best example we have of a literal real-life pressure cooker. Between angry customers and an angrier Scotsman, there was never any room for error.

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It's unsurprising, then, that winners have needed the perfect blend between composure and talent - essential in any kitchen, televised or otherwise.

But, as anyone who keeps up with show-biz knows, winning is only half the battle. What comes after the cameras have stopped rolling can be just as daunting.

Here is where you can find the Hell's Kitchen winners now.

Season 1: Michael Wray

The inaugural champion, punk rocker Michael Wray surpassed expectations and took the win. After his victory, he then took a job working with Ramsay in London.

He later turned down an offer to be head chef at the glamorous Standard hotel in Los Angeles. He now runs Skull and Cleavers, a knife company, in Arizona - where he also teaches cookery.

Michael Wray Hell's Kitchen winner (Credit: Fox) Michael Wray was the first winner of Hell's Kitchen (Credit: Fox)

Season 2: Heather West

New Yorker Heather West saw off the competition to win season two of Hell’s Kitchen in 2006. Following fine dining’s curious excursion into the desert, she chose to be the senior chef at the Terra Rossa restaurant in Las Vegas’ Red Rock Casino.

At 25, she had withstood the heat of Hell’s Kitchen, but it now seems the heat of the Nevada sun may have been too much as she lives back on Long Island.

Heather West Hell's Kitchen (Credit: Fox) Heather West was the champion in 2006 (Credit: Fox)

Season 3: Rock Harper

Spotsylvania Courthouse, Virginia, resident Rock Harper was 30 years old when he won Hell’s Kitchen. Following in the footsteps of Heather West, he opted to work at Terra Verde restaurant in the Green Valley Ranch Casino in Henderson, Nevada.

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He has since been executive chef at Ben’s Next Door in Washington D.C, taught a course at Stanford and written a bestseller entitled 44 Things Parents Should Know about Healthy Cooking for Kids.

Rock Harper Hell's Kitchen winner Rock Harper has been hugely successful since winning Hell's Kitchen winner (Credit: Fox)

Season 4: Christina Machamer

This 25-year-old was still a student when she won Hell’s Kitchen, becoming the first-ever winner to have her prize downgraded from executive chef to senior chef in the process.

However, she went on to work in West Hollywood’s The London and also at Bouchon Bistro in Yountville. She is now a sommelier and manages a vineyard in California’s Napa County.

Christina Machamer Hell's Kitchen winner Christina Machamer was the first winner to have her prize downgraded (Credit: Fox)

Season 5: Danny Veltri

Just 23 when he won, Danny Veltri also had his prize downgraded and took up the position of sous chef at the Borgata Hotel Casino’s the Fornelletto in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

However, the Florida boy was soon to return to his home state where he worked at the presumably unpretentious Gnarly Surf Bar & Grill. After a slight run-in with the law for driving under the influence, he now runs a company called Back From Hell Catering.

Danny Veltri was just 23 when he won Hell's Kitchen Danny Veltri was just 23 when he won Hell's Kitchen (Credit: Fox)

Season 6: Dave Levey

San Diego resident Dave Levey was something of an elder statesman when he won season six of Hell’s Kitchen at the age of 32 in 2009.

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Bucking the trend, he headed for the snowstorms and icicles of Whistler, British Columbia. Here he worked for Araxi Restaurant before returning to his home state of New Jersey where he has worked at a number of restaurants.

 Dave Levey Hell's Kitchen (Credit: Fox) Dave Levey was a Hell's Kitchen favourite (Credit: Fox)

Season 7: Holli Ugalde

California girl Holli Ugalde was 24 when she won season seven amid a fanfare of tears and congratulations.

Turning down the Savoy in London, she opted to become the executive chef at B Ocean’s in Florida. She now runs the SENS Wellness lifestyle programme which helps people achieve personal wellbeing.

Holli Ugalde Hells' Kitchen winner (Credit: Fox) Holli Ugalde won Hell's Kitchen series seven (Credit: Fox)

Season 8: Nona Sivley

When Nona Sivley won the eighth season of Hell’s Kitchen in December 2010, it was like Christmas come early. The 29-year-old went on to work as the head chef in Los Angeles’ LA Market for three years.

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She has since launched a catering company called Sizzling Peach in addition to opening her own restaurant in - yep, you guessed it - Las Vegas.

Nona Sivley won the competition in 2010 (Credit: Fox) Nona Sivley won the competition in 2010 (Credit: Fox)

Season 9: Paul Niedermann

Paul Niedermann was 27 when he won season nine of Hell’s Kitchen. Having worked for BLT Steak in New York, he returned to his home state of Florida, taking up a job at Hudson at Waterway East. He has since moved to SALT7 in Delray Beach.

Paul Niedermann Hell's Kitchen winner (Credit: Fox) Paul Niedermann now works at Delray Beach (Credit: Fox)

Season 10: Christina Wilson

Hailing from Philly, 32-year-old Christina Wilson won season 10 of Hell’s Kitchen. She went on to work in fabulous Las Vegas as the head chef at Paris Casino’s Gordon Ramsay Steak and then as executive chef at Gordon Ramsay Burger in the Planet Hollywood Casino.

Christina Wilson Hell's Kitchen winner (Credit: Fox) Christina Wilson has gone on to work for Gordon Ramsay in Las Vegas (Credit: Fox)

Season 11: Ja'Nel Witt

When 31-year-old Texan Ja'Nel Witt won season 11 of Hell’s Kitchen, it wasn’t possible for her to take up the prize and work at the Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas as she controversially failed a drugs test.

She subsequently returned to the Lone Star State, working as the executive chef at Houston’s Corner Table before moving to Sammy’s Steakhouse in Richmond.

Ja'Nel Witt Hell's Kitchen winner (Credit: Fox) Ja'Nel Witt won season 11 of Hell’s Kitchen (Credit: Fox)

Season 12: Scott Commings

Hailing from Woodstock in Illinois, Scott Commings was 36 when he won season 12 of Hell’s Kitchen. He now works as head chef at the Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas which, by now, must be overrun with ex Hell’s Kitchen contestants.

Scott Commings hell's kitchen (Credit: Fox) Scott Cummings heads up Gordon Ramsay Pub and Grill (Credit: Fox)

Season 13: La Tasha McCutchen

Season 13 continued the trend of older winners and saw 33-year-old La Tasha McCutchen crowned the champion. Originally from Winter Haven, Florida, La Tasha went on to work as head chef at the Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill at Caesars Palace in New Jersey’s Atlantic City.

However, a year later, she left the role and is now a private chef for one presumably very happy family.

La Tasha McCutchen hell's kitchen (Credit: Fox) La Tasha McCutchen now works as a private chef (Credit: Fox)

Season 14: Meghan Gill

Meghan Gill, from Roanoke, Virginia, was 28 when she won Hell’s Kitchen season 14 in June 2015. She became head chef of the Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill at Caesars Palace in New Jersey’s Atlantic City.

Meghan Gill hell's kitchen (Credit: Fox) Meghan Gill hell's kitchen (Credit: Fox)

Season 15: Ariel Malone

This New Jersey resident famously had no training before winning the 15th season of Hell’s Kitchen, aged 26.

She has since worked as head chef at BLT Steak in Bally’s Casino in Las Vegas - until the beginning of last year - and is now pursuing opportunities elsewhere.

Ariel Malone Hell's Kitchen winner (Credit: Fox) Ariel Malone had no formal training before winning Hell's Kitchen (Credit: Fox)

Season 16: Kimberly Ann Ryan

Michigander Kimberly Ann Ryan was 29 when she won the 16th season of Hell’s Kitchen early last year. She now works as head chef at Yardbird Southern Table & Bar in Las Vegas’ The Venetian Casino.

Kimberly Ann Ryan hell's kitchen (Credit: fox) Kimberly Ann Ryan is also a head chef in Las Vegas (Credit: Fox)

Season 17: Michelle Tribble

Michelle Tribble came third in season 14 but managed to beat the competition to win three years later. Her prize was the head chef position at the brand new Hell’s Kitchen restaurant in Ceasars Palace, Las Vegas.

As well as living in America’s biggest party town, she also bagged herself a $250,000-a-year salary.

Michelle Tribble hell's kitchen fox Michelle Tribble netted a $250,000 per year salary (Credit: Fox)

Season 18: Ariel Contreras

Another comeback story, 35-year-old Ariel Contreras had finished third way back in Season 6 before finally taking the title.

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The Brooklyn-born champion did not take up the Executive chef position at Hell's Kitchen Restaurant at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, instead becoming the Executive Chef at Dos Caminos in NYC. Sometimes, winning isn't all about the prize.

Ariel Contreras hell's kitchen (Credit: fox) Ariel Contreras won Hell's Kitchen series 18 (Credit: fox)

With season 19 on the horizon, we'll have to wait and see what the next winner will look like. But, if history tells us anything, it's that Hell's Kitchen winners now seem to enjoy far better career prospects than some of their reality show contemporaries.

If you can turn down a job at Caesars Palace, clearly it could be worse.