Hell’s Kitchen depicts the intense and high-pressure stakes of working in an executive kitchen under chef Gordan Ramsay.
With a prize of $250,000 on the line as well as a position as an executive chef at one of Ramsay’s restaurants, a lot is riding on a contestant’s shoulders.
Hell’s Kitchen has a strong following on Fox and brings in about $150 million every year it airs.
With such success, you may wonder if the contestants receive any of that pay.
Here’s what you need to know about whether Hell’s Kitchen’s contestants earn money on the show or not.
Do Hell’s Kitchen Contestants Get Paid?
Yes, Hell’s Kitchen contestants do receive a weekly paycheck for their time on the show.
Part of the reason they receive compensation is that the show requires them to have specific skills.
They’re essentially paying the contestants to display their skills on the show.
The show is also aware that the contestants have to take time off from work to tape the episodes.
Since many of these chefs tend to work in the restaurant industry already, they could be receiving a substantial pay cut to tape the episodes.
That said, those beginning their chef careers may end up making more than they already do.
Fox pays the show’s contestants anywhere from $750 to $1,000 per week.
The exact number is unknown since Fox doesn’t report it.
However, based on other shows, the average that a contestant on a show receives is $750.
The contestants on Hell’s Kitchen tend to earn more because they have a specific set of skills that the show requires.
To encourage them to use their skills and try out for the show, it needs to offer them a good financial incentive.
Do Hell’s Kitchen Contestants Need To Pay For Their Living Quarters?
Like most other competitive shows, the contestants don’t go home after an episode finishes filming.
They have to remain in the area to continue filming episodes.
It’s also far more expensive for the show to keep flying them back and forth from their homes to the set.
To offset this cost, the show pays for their hotel expenses.
In this way, Hell’s Kitchen contestants don’t have to pay for their lodging.
That said, some likely wish they could.
That’s because the living quarters that the show sets up are far from luxurious.
Unlike other competitive shows which often put their contestants in fancy hotels or mansions, Hell’s Kitchen uses extremely small rooms.
One might even be able to describe them as barracks.
Each room fits at least five contestants, which means privacy isn’t going to happen.
The idea behind filling these rooms with a lot of people is to increase the stress that they’re feeling.
The show doesn’t want to give its contestants a chance to relax or unwind.
Instead, they want to keep adding to the pressure.
This encourages tempers to flare in the kitchen which makes for great TV.
It also helps Ramsay determine who has what it takes to survive working in one of his kitchens.
After all, as its name might suggest, the entire experience is hellish.
While contestants won’t have to pay for their hotel rooms, the added pressure and stress to their lives are heavy costs all the same.
What Happens When Gordon Ramsay Shuts Down A Kitchen In Hell’s Kitchen?
Viewers know that Gordon Ramsay is at his wit’s end when he shuts down a kitchen.
If he believes that the teams aren’t producing the quality of food that he’d serve in his restaurant, then he’ll shut them down and send them home.
You may wonder if the contestants still receive their pay despite not filming the entire episode.
The contestants will still receive pay even if they only end up working a few hours.
Fox may subtract from their pay, but because they filmed some time, they’ll still receive compensation for their time and effort.
You may also wonder what happens to the food that’s left.
Once the team leaves, another crew will come in and finish cooking the food.
They’ll salvage what they can to make food to serve to the patrons.
Because the diners are guests, Ramsay wants to ensure that they’re fed.
Because of this, even though the contestants leave the episode early, the patrons usually remain until the food has finished cooking.
How Long Do Hell’s Kitchen Contestants Work For?
Another aspect that might impact their pay is how much they work.
Contestants never know what’s going to happen on the show.
Hell’s Kitchen is one of the few unscripted shows on television.
As such, the contestants often find themselves facing quite a few surprises.
The producers try to keep them in the dark about certain challenges as well.
One example is when the contestants went to a steakhouse in fine evening clothes.
They believed that they were going to be the diners.
In reality, they ended up having to work in their evening clothes.
Producers also regularly change the wake-up times.
Sometimes the contestants will need to wake up earlier than they did the previous day.
Other times, they may get a few extra hours of sleep.
Because they don’t know, this can make it difficult for them to get regular sleep.
It also means that they may work longer on some days than others.
The complexity of the challenge can also affect how long it takes for them to complete a dish.
With few breaks between filming and challenges, the contestants are on their feet for several hours.
The longer they’re filming, the more they end up earning for that day.
Does Hell’s Kitchen Hire Real Chefs As Contestants?
One question that many viewers have when watching the show is whether the contestants are actual chefs or not.
In some cases, it may seem like a particular contestant has more personality than actual skill.
Some may even wonder if they’re all actors.
Hell’s Kitchen emphasizes hiring real chefs.
That’s because Ramsay wants serious chefs to work in his restaurant.
He has a personal stake in the show since he’s going to be hiring the winner to work in one of his restaurants.
If the quality of that chef isn’t up to his standards, then he won’t want to accept them.
Because of that, the show has a lengthy and involved interview process for new contestants.
Not only do the contestants need to show that they have experience working as a chef, but they also need to demonstrate some basic to advanced skills from the get-go.
That said, Fox does like to hire chefs with personalities from time to time.
They may be willing to overlook a chef’s lackluster skills if that chef can bring some form of personality to the show that can cause some drama.
At the end of the day, however, Ramsay always wants chefs with skill and experience on the show.
Because they have skill and experience, the show pays them more than other competitors on different reality shows.
Are There Bodyguards On Hell’s Kitchen?
Yes, there are bodyguards on the set of Hell’s Kitchen.
In fact, there are a lot of bodyguards on the set.
That’s due to Gordon Ramsay’s penchant for being rather verbally abusive towards the competitors.
He has a reputation for yelling and swearing at competitors when they do something wrong.
Not only does it create great television, but it also expresses Ramsay’s deep frustration with chefs who know better than to make the mistakes that they’re making.
Because he often yells at the competitors, it can create a lot of tension.
The contestants are already under a lot of stress and pressure.
It’s enough to make anyone crack.
If they do crack, there’s an army of bodyguards ready to protect Ramsay just in case of a physical altercation.
Fox may want drama, but they don’t want blood.
The bodyguards also receive pay for their time, but they likely get paid a lot more than $1,000 a week.
Do Hell’s Kitchen’s Contestants Leave Work To Join The Show?
Since the contestants receive weekly pay from being on the show, you may wonder if they end up leaving work.
In many cases, they do leave work to join the show.
That’s because the filming of the show takes place over a few months.
For many chefs who are working for a restaurant, that’s too much time away.
The restaurant usually needs to replace them to keep producing food for their own diners.
While some restaurants may be willing to take the chef back when they’re done competing, this isn’t guaranteed.
The chefs go into the competition with their eyes on the prize.
Since the winner ends up working in one of Ramsay’s kitchens, they won’t need to hold onto their job at home.
Because of that, a lot of contestants will quit their job to force themselves to give the competition their all.
Some of the chefs also own their own restaurants.
These chefs likely leave someone else in charge while they’re gone.
They have something to return to if they don’t win the competition.
Regardless, most of the chefs that compete on the show usually leave their jobs behind.
It makes the stakes even higher for them.
Fox also wants to ensure that they’re paid for their time since they left their life’s work behind.
Does Hell’s Kitchen Contestants Get To Use Their Phones?
One aspect of reality TV shows that seems to be a staple is the separation of the contestant from the outside world.
That means contestants aren’t able to have their phones, laptops, or any other form of technology while they’re on the show.
Hell’s Kitchen is no different.
When a contestant joins the show, they have to leave their electronics behind.
The show doesn’t want them to be able to contact friends or family because this can act as a stress reliever.
It’s also why, if their families ever do show up on the show, the emotional impact is raw and real.
The contestant’s family, on the other hand, receives regular updates about their loved ones on the show.
The show will inform them whether the contestant is okay or not to ensure they’re not kept in the dark or worrying.
Do Diners Have To Pay To Eat On Hell’s Kitchen?
Aside from the contestants, you may also wonder if the diners on the show have to pay to eat on the show.
Diners do not have to pay to eat.
The show has a website where people can sign up to eat at the set without charge.
The show also includes a warning that they may not actually eat anything.
Because diners usually have to wait several hours before they can eat, the show tries to make it easier for them by providing them with free drinks, including alcoholic ones.
A lot of diners make it to the appetizer stage, but then they usually leave because they’re too hungry to wait any longer.
In some cases, the show will also ask people off of the street to come and eat to fill up chairs.
That’s because the show isn’t actually set in a real kitchen.
It’s set on a sound stage that’s designed to look like a kitchen and restaurant.
Not only does this allow the show to fill the place with cameras, but it also allows the producers to control how many diners they have.
They can make the “restaurant” appear as though it’s busy and full at all times.
Although the diners don’t have to pay for their meals, sometimes the meals can be quite awful.
If it’s a bad day in the kitchen, then the diners are the ones to suffer.
Does Hell’s Kitchen Give Their Contestants Psychiatric Examinations?
Because of the high levels of stress on the show, Fox wants to make sure that their contestants are mentally sound if they lose.
Since contestants put their all into winning, it can be devastating to lose.
Because of that, the show gives each contestant a psychiatric evaluation when they exit the show to determine their mental health.
They want to make sure that the contestant doesn’t take their own life or anyone else’s life because of a deep sense of failure.
Once the evaluation is over, the contestant goes to a fancy spa where they can receive anything they want free of charge.
This includes massages, a haircut, and even pedicures and manicures.
The goal is to help them decompress after their stressful experience before entering society again.
The best thing is that the contestant doesn’t have to pay for any of this.
Do Hell’s Kitchen Contestants Ever Get Time Off?
Because of the high stress on the show, the producers don’t want to give their contestants too much time off.
To ensure their stress levels remain high, the contestants only receive one day off.
Even then, they’re not allowed to leave the dormitory.
They’re stuck with the other contestants and are unable to get any time to themselves.
While this does allow them time to rest physically, it doesn’t give them the type of rest they need to fully recover from stress.
Hell’s Kitchen is one of the few reality TV shows that pay their contestants a decent wage.
That’s likely because the contestants come with skills that warrant a high wage.
The high stress and pressure of the show, however, can take an emotional and physical toll on them.