Among all of the reality cooking shows on television, many viewers love to watch Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen.
In the show, chefs who are looking to work for Ramsay are pit against one another in a series of culinary challenges.
They’re placed in two different groups with each group trying to outdo the other.
With frequent tiebreakers and heated moments on television, some viewers may wonder if the show uses a script or if it’s entirely organic.
Here’s what you need to know about whether Hell’s Kitchen is staged or not.
Is Hell’s Kitchen Staged?
According to the producers, Hell’s Kitchen is not staged.
Instead, they follow a careful casting process which allows them to film organic feuds and tempers as they happen.
Hell’s Kitchen does use a script for Ramsay when he explains or delivers a challenge.
However, when he’s reacting to a dish or speaking to chefs, he does not use a script.
That’s entirely his own dialogue.
That said, since Hell’s Kitchen is a reality TV show looking to keep its viewers, Ramsay is likely encouraged by his producers to react more emotionally than is strictly necessary from time to time.
If a script or staging exists anywhere else in the show, then it likely occurs with the judges.
At the end of every episode, several guest judges will sample and critique each chef’s dish.
In many cases, the points always end up being close to one another.
This might make some viewers believe that the guests receive a script, or they receive encouragement to shift their decision in such a way as to increase the drama.
Producers haven’t given a firm answer in regard to their judges or the judging process.
As such, it’s entirely possible that the judging portion of Hell’s Kitchen does undergo some doctoring and staging to increase the drama.
How Does Hell’s Kitchen Choose Its Cast?
According to Kenny Rosen, who runs the show alongside Gordon Ramsay, the crew carefully chooses the cast of every season.
There is a healthy mix of talent and personality.
Some chefs are chosen because they showcase a real talent that interests Ramsay.
Others have a particular type of personality that intrigues them.
These personalities tend to have quick tempers, egos, a willingness or boldness to speak their minds, or hotheadedness.
In this way, the cast members include both those who can carry each team forward through the challenges and those who inspire drama.
Because they’re mindful of who they choose for their cast, the show is able to film fights and arguments that occur naturally.
The cast often finds themselves at odds with one another.
As a result, especially with those who have short tempers, tempers flare.
They don’t need to feed their cast a script since these fights happen naturally under a lot of stress.
Because of this, most of the arguments that occur on the show are not scripted.
They’re a result of clever casting.
How Does Hell’s Kitchen Set Up The Drama?
One of the aspects of Hell’s Kitchen that viewers can always expect is drama.
Ramsay, on his own, is very dramatic.
However, most of the drama tends to come from the cast members.
Some of this is by design.
The crew hires some people with short tempers in the hope that they’ll explode while they’re filming.
However, they will also do other things to help drive up tempers.
For one, the cast is only given a few short moments to relax and rest.
Without giving them the time to relax, they’re unable to recover from the previous stressful event they just filmed.
As the challenge wears on, they’re all exhausted by the end of it.
That means those with short tempers are ready to blow up at any moment.
Even those who are in control of their tempers can start to feel the stress after receiving little rest.
Another way that the show helps drive the drama is by setting up some tough challenges.
Some of the chefs have great skills, but the challenges are difficult even for them.
These challenges are designed to be difficult to ramp up the stress levels within the cast.
Whether it’s a time limit or a huge order, if the challenge is difficult, then everyone is going to be feeling the pressure.
When something happens that ruins a dish or forces a chef to go back to square one, then they might start to panic.
Panicking leads to further mistakes which also makes tempers flare.
Mix this with short tempers and short rests, and you have a situation ripe for drama.
Finally, the working conditions can also impact the drama.
Kitchens are hot and enclosed.
When you’re under a lot of pressure or stressed, then you already feel hot.
Your body is using a lot of energy to deal with that stress.
Because you’re surrounded by hot stoves and people, it raises your body temperature even more.
As a result, you feel crankier and are more prone to snapping at someone.
The fact that you are surrounded by a lot of people and energy only makes the problem worse.
You don’t have a moment or place where you can separate yourself and ground yourself.
Instead, you’re feeding on the panicked energy of everyone else.
If you find someone annoying, then that feeling may become even worse by the situation you find yourself in.
Due to the working conditions of a kitchen, it can encourage someone to lose their temper and cause drama.
Both by the design of the show and the environment in which it’s filmed, Hell’s Kitchen creates the perfect atmosphere for chefs to bicker and fight amongst themselves.
How Does Hell’s Kitchen Raise The Stakes To Cause Drama?
Maintaining a certain amount of stress is key to causing the drama that viewers witness in Hell’s Kitchen.
The way in which the show raises the stakes play a role in driving up stress levels and thus causing drama.
For example, the very basis of the show can cause drama by raising the stakes.
The winner of the show not only takes home a great cash prize, but they are also invited to work for Ramsay.
Since Ramsay is a world-famous chef, this type of employment can completely change a young chef’s life.
For one, they get to work for a celebrity chef.
That would look great on a resume if they should ever decide to leave or start their own restaurant.
Since Ramsay has restaurants in several different countries, there’s also a chance that they can move to a new country.
For some chefs, it’s their dream to cook in France or Italy.
Finally, they can probably expect a great wage.
They may be able to meet their financial goals.
Even if they don’t want to work with Ramsay, the cash prize is often enough to encourage them and drive them to win.
Since it’s a competition, there is a lot of stress over performing well at every single challenge.
If things start to go wrong, then they start to feel the pressure of possibly losing and missing out on a great opportunity.
Since Hell’s Kitchen is a competition, its very design encourages its competitors to work against one another.
They need to defeat the other team and perform the best that they can to impress Ramsay and the judges.
That complexity can weigh heavily on a person which may make them more prone to lash out under a lot of stress.
Because of the nature of the show, Hell’s Kitchen creates a lot of unscripted drama.
Does Gordon Ramsay Incite Drama On Hell’s Kitchen?
One of the reasons some people may think Hell’s Kitchen is fake or staged is because of Gordon Ramsay.
Ramsay has a reputation for speaking his mind or being a bit hotheaded.
Some viewers, thus, may think that he intentionally yells at or loses his temper with the chefs to cause further drama.
There may be some truth to that, but one must also consider Ramsay’s talent as a chef.
When a chef asks a question or does something that even a basic chef wouldn’t ask or do, then it’s understandable why Chef Ramsay has very little patience for them.
One classic example from the show is when a chef asks Ramsay if a vegetarian dish should include tuna or not.
That said, it wouldn’t be unlikely if the producers encouraged Ramsay to play it up a little here and there.
He may receive soundbites that the producers can use to advertise the episode, for example.
If a particular episode seems to not have enough drama, then they may encourage him to rile up the chefs a little.
Most of Ramsay’s antics, however, are likely to be genuine.
Does Hell’s Kitchen Issue Soundbites?
Soundbites are specific pieces of dialogue that producers use to advertise a show.
Every reality show advertises an upcoming episode with a few scenes of what viewers can expect to see.
It usually entails a challenge or conflict and then some reactions.
Part of those reactions is verbal dialogue called soundbites.
Some small pieces of dialogue may receive some editing to encourage viewership.
The goal is to make the episode extremely interesting.
They want to encourage the viewer to tune in to the next episode.
That said, it may make some viewers wonder if producers give their cast members certain words or phrases to say during the filming to make soundbites for the trailer.
The answer is that it’s likely.
Every chef gets to sit down with a camera to comment on the competition and their experience with it.
If they answer the question in a certain way, then the producers might ask them to rephrase it.
It’s still the same organic answer that they would have used anyway, but it’s re-worded to the producer’s liking and to generate a soundbite that they can use in the trailer.
How often do the producers of Hell’s Kitchen ask their cast members to rephrase something they said?
Only the producers, crew, and cast know the answer to that question.
How Much Editing Does Hell’s Kitchen Use?
Editing is a large part of every reality TV show.
The way in which the crew edits the episode can make it seem as though the drama is constantly occurring.
The reality is that this isn’t the case.
In truth, there’s likely a lot of tame and boring cooking happening.
However, because Hell’s Kitchen is about explosive chefs making complex dishes in a competitive environment, that is not what their viewers want to see.
As a result, the show edits the filming of the episodes to take out most of the boring stuff.
Instead, it edits the episode in such a way to make it seem as though the tension is constantly increasing until a blowout inevitably happens.
The commentary of the cast is then used to help create a sense of linear storytelling.
They may have 12 hours of film for each episode, but since every episode is an hour long, it’s condensed.
They only choose the juicy parts to show in the episode.
That said, there are also several parts of the show that are not edited.
For example, you can’t fake cooking since it’s happening live in front of a camera.
Those dishes are also sent to judges who try them.
While it’s possible that some chefs may choose to sabotage one another, the crew, themselves, don’t tamper with the food and it isn’t staged to ruin the food either.
Real accidents happen because real accidents occur to chefs every day.
Mistakes happen to everyone, even chefs who have a lot of training and experience.
In the rush and pressure of the challenge, it’s not uncommon for dishes to fall because someone hurried to set them down.
When it comes to the actual cooking part, very little editing occurs.
It’s only the overall episode that gets edited to showcase as much drama as possible.
Are The Chefs Also Actors on Hell’s Kitchen?
One way that you can determine if a show is fake or staged or not is to look at the cast.
Reality TV will hire unknown actors to form its cast to generate drama.
These actors receive pay to increase the drama and react in ways that people may not typically react.
Actors are not used in Hell’s Kitchen.
They hire only real chefs for their cast.
Even those they hire primarily based on their personalities are still chefs.
Because they don’t use actors, Hell’s Kitchen places an emphasis on real drama and real cooking.
Are Hell’s Kitchen’s Customers Real?
Another area where some viewers may wonder if the show is staged or not is their diners.
Every episode ends with the competitors feeding their dishes to a selection of diners in the restaurant.
Those diners then give feedback on the meals along with guest judges.
The diners in Hell’s Kitchen are real.
They’re often invited from the street to come inside and eat the day’s food.
The set of Hell’s Kitchen actually transforms into a real restaurant when they’re filming the show.
A part of the set even converts into a type of dorm for the competitors.
The front that viewers see is also real.
Diners have their cars taken by a valet, then they’re shown into the restaurant.
Because they’re not able to request to see how the chefs make their food, they don’t have to pay money for it.
In fact, the show pays every diner $50 to sit and try the food.
They are not given a script or told to say something specific about the food that they eat.
Instead, they’re encouraged to give an honest reaction to the food.
That’s when the cameras start rolling.
Some diners can hear Ramsay shouting at the chefs from their seats, but not all of them do.
When it comes to their diners, Hell’s Kitchen isn’t staged.
Like any reality show, Hell’s Kitchen is often suspected to be fake, scripted, or staged.
While the producers do hire some cast members based on their personalities, the drama that viewers see is real and organic.
They do, however, do what they can to make their cast feel stressed or under pressure.
That creates a powder keg just waiting to explode and make for some great television.