In Season 14 of Hell’s Kitchen, executive chef Meghan Gill (follow her on Twitter @chefmeghan14) outlasted and outcooked 17 other contestants to walk away with the coveted job of head chef at Gordon Ramsay‘s Pub & Grill in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Gill beat Torrece “T” Gregoire in what Ramsay called a “close competition.” But what happened to Meghan Gill once the cameras were turned off?
When I was in Atlantic City a few months ago, this Hell’s Kitchen fan had the chance to find out when I chatted with Gill at Ramsay’s restaurant. “I didn’t do Hell’s Kitchen for the fame,” she says. “I had been a chef for 13 years and I knew I was okay, but I wondered if Gordon Ramsay would think I was good, too.”
On the show, Gill was portrayed as a hard-working entrée with a side order of bitchiness. Gordon Ramsay even sprinkled on the word “intense.” “I thought, ‘that’s the pot calling the kettle black,’” laughs Gill.
Like most reality shows, you can blame Gill’s portrayal on selective editing. She’s sociable and chatty, but admits to being “very shy.”
Meghan Gill On What She Called Competitors
The season was also chock-filled with moments that we, as the home audience, never saw. “I had gummy bear fights with the contestants and I may or may not have said, ‘Let’s make love to the meat,’ to Gordon Ramsay,” laughs Gill.
Gill says that she also got heat from fans for calling fellow competitor Michelle Tribble, “little one.” “She reminded me of me, so it was a term of endearment and she knew that,” says Gill. “I gave the others respect when it was due.”
While it may look like Gill’s toughness separated her from the other competitors, she’s still good friends with several of them, including T and Josh Trovato. “You form bonds when you go through something like this.”
Gordon Ramsay: A Peach Compared To Her Former Bosses
Gordon Ramsay is tough on all of his competitors, but Gill says that, believe it or not, he was nothing compared to some of her previous bosses. “I worked for a restaurant in the DC metro area, and there were two chefs I worked for,” she says. “Gordon Ramsay had nothing on them. They threw things.”
She realized that Ramsay’s tough exterior was there to weed out those who were indecisive. “It’s a test of character,” she says. “Even I wanted the weakest people to go. I want the best working with me.”
Although Gill was never nominated for elimination, she made a daring move during the competition that could have backfired. “My worst moment was in the dry stock room when I said I would nominate myself,” she says. “Chef Ramsay talked to me and encouraged me to keep going and not take any crap.”
In the finale, Gill says that she was thrilled to compete against T. “Having T share the spotlight with me was fantastic,” she says. “A chef wants to push another chef to a higher level.”
Meghan Gill on Those Hell’s Kitchen Doors Opening
When Gill had the opportunity to talk to Ramsay prior to the big reveal, she remembers saying one thing to the famous chef. “I told him, ‘Thank you for this opportunity, and if my door opens, I know that this is the direction I need to go.”
Her door did open, and once the winner had the validation she wanted, she had to impatiently wait for more than a year to start her new position. “It was hard to keep the secret and to wait, because as a chef I wanted to get there and progress, but I couldn’t do that,” she says. “I had to wait a year for a new beginning.”
She was finally able to relocate to Atlantic City to start work in the summer of 2015, a transition she said wasn’t that difficult, although it was hard to leave friends and family behind. “But when I got here, I knew I had worked hard for what I have and that it would pay off,” she says. “So I celebrated and moved.”
She arrived in Atlantic City at a time when the once glamorous and popular gambling and beach mecca is struggling financially, but trying hard to return to its glory days. In the meantime, Gill says she has met so many amazing people in her new hometown, and she’s thoroughly impressed with her staff.
“The pub was already built before I got here, and the staff does 1200 covers on a Saturday, so how do you get better?” she asked. “You nail it.”
What’s next for Gill? “I’ve always wanted to do a cookbook,” she says.
Her advice to future chefs who are trying out for the intense competition? “Have a thick skin,” she says. “Don’t get involved with drama. Do what you know and keep your head down. Keep the mentality that failure is not an option. And, most importantly, just say ‘Yes, chef.’”
In case you’re wondering, I ate a Scotch egg – a hard-boiled egg wrapped in sausage meat, coated in bread crumbs and baked or deep-fried – for the first time at the restaurant. It was delicious.
And yes, I ordered the famous Hell’s Kitchen Beef Wellington, and it was, indeed, the best meal I’ve ever had, without the side order of yelling.