Looking for the best seasons of hell’s kitchen?
Hell’s Kitchen is one of the most beloved reality shows ever produced. Who could’ve thought that a cooking show would become so popular? However, there are multiple reasons for that popularity. Mainly, Gordon Ramsay’s volatile temper and his crude remarks.
Hell’s Kitchen currently has 20 seasons, full of entertainment, cooking, and Ramsey’s breakdowns. However, with this many seasons, it can be difficult to choose which is the best season of Hell’s Kitchen.
But if you’re facing that problem then look no further. We have made a ranking of many seasons of this beloved cooking/reality show. This ranking list also includes our choice for the best seasons of Hell’s Kitchen.
Best Seasons of Hell’s Kitchen
Every season of Hell’s Kitchen introduces aspects of intriguing food and dramatic style to the small screen. While all seasons have been fun thus far, certain seasons stand out beyond the rest.
We’ve picked and ranked 15 such seasons of this show to decide which is the best season of Hell’s Kitchen. So, let’s jump right into it.
15. Hell’s Kitchen – Season 15
Coming on the 15th spot on this list is coincidentally season 15. This season of Hell’s Kitchen aired in January of 2016. It comprises 15 episodes in total. This season’s grand prize was a position as head chef at BLT Steak in Bally’s Las Vegas.
In this season of Hell’s Kitchen, there are many memorable moments. However, it isn’t as exciting as some of the other entries on this list apart from a few special moments. That is why it barely made the list. Fun fact, this season featured an appearance by Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven from Stranger Things).
The first important moment in this season was the guest appearance of Kris Jenner in the 4th episode. The second most memorable moment from this season is when Joe Ricci almost burns down the kitchen. Fortunately, things do not escalate further.
Furthermore, this is the first season in which every contender has won at least one task and/or gone on a reward. This season’s severe punishments included consuming duck feet sandwiches, churning butter the traditional way, and making durian-based desserts.
This season’s winner was Ariel Malone. Overall, it is definitely not one of the best seasons of Hell’s Kitchen but quite good.
14. Season 16
The next season on our list is season 16 which aired in September 2016. This season also consists of 16 episodes in total. This season’s reward was a position as head chef at Yardbird Southern Table & Bar at The Venetian Las Vegas.
A little fun fact, Season 16 was the last season to feature the iconic long-sleeved chef jacket. Moreover, this season featured many interesting punishments which include drinking fisheye milkshakes, mopping up ostrich eggs, and cleaning the LA River.
This season was the third year in a row and third overall season to have an all-female Final Three, in addition to Seasons 14 and 15. The best moment in this season comes from Jessica in the third episode, who nominated herself for elimination. She is the third contestant to do so.
Apart from that, some of the more memorable moments came from Matt Hearm, who was quite hot-headed and had a fight with Aaron Smock.
In season 16, Kimberly-Ann Ryan managed to secure the top place. She was from Michigan.
13. Season 9
As we are gradually leading to the best season of Hell’s Kitchen, we have stumbled upon our 13th entry. On this spot, we have mentioned season 9 of Hell’s Kitchen.
Season 9 premiered in 2011 and as usual, contains 16 episodes. This season was the first one to introduce the Private Charity Night dinner service, however, this was the last season to feature a double dinner service.
Furthermore, it aired episodes in multiple time slots and days for the first time in its history, which may have contributed to a reduction in viewership from previous seasons. That is probably the main reason this season isn’t higher up on the list.
While it may not be one of the best seasons of Hell’s Kitchen, this season does have to offer a lot of entertainment. In terms of punishments, this season was not as intimidating as the punishments include cleaning the kitchen, picking up cow carcasses, and prepping chickens.
Paul Niedermann was the winner of this season and got the head chef appointment at BLT Steak in New York City.
12. Season 7
Season 7 of Hell’s Kitchen began in June 2010. Unlike previous seasons on this list, this one actually consisted of 15 episodes.
In this season, the blue team actually dominated the show which means that this was the only season where the red team didn’t win a single service. Moreover, with seven wins this season, the blue team set a new record for most dinner service wins in a season.
This is the first season in which two chefs were unexpectedly eliminated on the same night. It is quite memorable since Andrew, one of the chefs, had a spat with Ramsay and eventually got kicked out of the kitchen. The contestant quit because he couldn’t handle the pressure.
Another reason this season was memorable was due to the fact that the winner, Holli Ugalde couldn’t get the promised position as a head chef due to some visa issues. She instead took an undisclosed sum of money and kept the title of “Season 7 winner.”
This season’s punishment included serving fellow contestants breakfast in bed, preparing tuna, and cleaning the Los Angeles River.
11. Season 4
Next on our list of best seasons of Hell’s Kitchen is season 4. This season began in April 2008. It featured many unique punishments like picking up trash with bare hands, decorating the dining hall, and crushing ice by hand.
This season featured a lot of shows firsts. For instance, the red team has won the opening night service for the first time this season. As a result, this is the first season in which the blue team has failed to win the opening night service.
Furthermore, with 15 candidates, this is the only season to date, to begin with an odd number of contestants. It is the first season in which both teams won dinner service. This season also featured the memorable scene when Vanessa Gunnell quit the show after burning her hand.
The winner of this season was Christina Machamer, from St. Louis, Missouri. With a $250,000 salary, she was appointed as Senior Sous Chef at Gordon Ramsay’s London West Hollywood in Los Angeles. Overall, this season was quite important as it featured some elements that would become normal in future seasons.
10. Season 2
We have reached the top 10 entries leading up to the best season of Hell’s Kitchen. Coming in next, Season 2 of Hell’s Kitchen provided a lot of boost to the show’s viewership. This season started airing in June 2006. During this season, 12 candidates participated.
It was the last season to be aired in standard definition (4:3), after this, the show transitioned to HD. This is the first season in which the black jackets nominate someone to be eliminated prior to the finale.
Moreover, this season was memorable because one of the chefs, Larry Silk, took an exit due to his health issues. In addition, Garrett Telle accidentally flipped off Ramsay. It was quite an intense moment.
In this season, hand-washing clothing, fumigating the kitchen, and polishing silverware are just a few of the notable punishments.
Sous chef Heather West emerged victoriously and became Executive Chef at the Terra Rossa restaurant inside the Red Rock Resort Spa and Casino in Las Vegas. In conclusion, this season established the show properly and proved that this show will go a long way.
9. Season 5
This season of Hell’s Kitchen started airing in January 2009. During this season, 16 participants competed. Male participants competed in the blue team, while female contestants competed in the red team.
Interestingly, this season is mainly memorable due to all the unique eliminations. It was the first and only season in which two participants were eliminated during service. This is the first season in which a contender has willingly withdrawn from the competition during the elimination process.
This season’s punishment included prepping a raw bar, butchering beef, and folding origami. Danny Veltri, a Florida native, won the season and went on to work as a sous chef at the Italian restaurant Fornelletto.
Danny is the youngest winner of the show in its history. He was 23 when he won the show.
8. Season 3
The 3rd season of Hell’s Kitchen premiered in June 2007 and contains 11 episodes. In this season Rock Harper became the winner. He became the head chef at Terra Verde restaurant in the Green Valley Ranch resort and spa in Henderson, Nevada, near Las Vegas.
This season was the last one to feature 12 contestants. This is the first season in which the show has been shown in high definition. Moreover, Ramsay overruled the formal nominations for the first time this season.
This is also the first and only season in which Ramsay made his own nominations after having already eliminated someone in a previous season. Furthermore, this is the first season in which a chef is fired in the middle of a service.
This is the first season in which two participants, rather than one, are eliminated in a single episode. Some punishments in this season were prepping food for service, eating cow’s tongue, and organizing trash.
7. Season 1
More often than not, the very first season of any show is considered the best. However, in the case of the best season of Hell’s Kitchen, that’s not applicable. The show keeps improving with each season.
Hell’s Kitchen’s first season started airing in May 2005. It has 11 episodes in total. This season is the first time the cooking competition has been shown to an American audience.
It also holds a lot of nostalgic value to long-term fans of the show. There are a lot of memorable moments throughout this season. For instance, Elsie Ramos asked to be sent back home, however, she won the next challenge.
Michael Wray of Fort Collins, Colorado, was the first winner of Hell’s Kitchen. He earned his own restaurant, Tatou, in Los Angeles, and was offered the opportunity to train with Ramsay in London, but he declined due to family concerns.
Moreover, this season was the only one (until Season 18) where the teams were not split by gender at the start. Season 1 of Hell’s Kitchen gave the show a good start and who knew that it’ll become the go-to cooking show for people.
6. Season 12
This season started airing in March 2014. Season 12 was the second season in which 20 contestants participated, tying Season 11 for the most contestants. Consequently, it ran for 20 episodes.
It was one of the few seasons in which neither team was pronounced the winner on opening night, and it was also the only season in which both teams lost the first three dinner services, much to Chef Ramsay’s disappointment.
This season’s grand prize was a position as head chef at Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Executive Chef Scott Commings won this position. In fact, he is the oldest contestant to win this show at the age of 36.
Season 12 is the second-longest season of Hell’s Kitchen, sharing this achievement with Season 10. This is also the first season in which every contender has been subjected to at least one punishment.
Finally, The Cook For Your Life Challenge debuted this season, and it was the first time a chef was ejected during a challenge.
5. Season 17
The 17th season of Hell’s Kitchen was titled “All-Stars.” It premiered on Fox in September 2017. It had 16 episodes in total.
The season was unique because 16 former candidates who made it to the black jackets in previous seasons competed again this time. Most chefs returned from Season 14 whereas the least number of chefs returned from Seasons 6 and 7 (one chef each).
For the first time in the show’s history, the Black Jacket Challenge has led to the elimination of two candidates. With five female candidates eliminated, this season is tied with Season 9 for the longest streak of female contestants eliminated. Moreover, it is the last season to feature a male runner-up.
Season 17’s winner was Michelle Tribble. Micheal previously came in 3rd place in Season 14. He was appointed as the Head Chef at the brand new Gordon Ramsay Hell’s Kitchen restaurant located at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.
This season includes various memorable punishments, such as washing fire trucks, cleaning the dorms, and getting groceries on a Conference Bike.
Several memorable punishments are featured in this season including grinding peppercorns by hand and eating a sickening fish dish. The last punishment caused Dana, Elise, and Michelle to throw up.
4. Season 10
Season 10 of Hell’s Kitchen started airing in June 2012. This season featured a total of 18 contestants. In this season the chefs compete against previous contestants. Furthermore, this season saw the change of production company behind it as it was produced by ITV America.
This was the only season in which both teams failed so miserably in a challenge that both teams were deemed losers, as well as the only season in which all of the contestants who were removed were officially nominated for elimination.
In addition to that, no candidates have withdrawn from the competition for the first time in the show’s history. The red team won the Signature Dish Challenge for the first time in the show’s history.
The winner of Season 10 was Chef de Cuisine Christina Wilson, from Philadelphia. She was offered a $250,000 salary and was appointed as the Head Chef at Gordon Ramsay Steak at the Paris Las Vegas hotel in Las Vegas.
Overall, it was a very solid season with many strong participants.
3. Season 14
The third best season of Hell’s Kitchen is season 14. It featured 18 fine contestants battling for the first price. It premiered in March 2015.
This season’s blue team set the record for the second most dinner service wins by a blue team in a season with six, including joint victories. Furthermore, Chef Ramsay visited their dorms for the first time in the show’s history.
Season 14 of Hell’s Kitchen was actually the first season to ever feature an all-female finale. However, the winner of that final was Meghan Gill, an executive chef from Roanoke. She was named Head Chef at Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill at Caesars Palace in Atlantic City.
Meghan actually shared this price with Winter Haven, the winner of the previous season.
While this season may not feature too many shock moments it was an overall exciting season. It featured some great contestants, some of whom actually returned in future seasons. It deserves to be one of the best seasons of Hell’s Kitchen.
2. Season 18
Airing in September 2018, the 18th season of Hell’s Kitchen takes the number 2 spot on this list. The second best season of Hell’s Kitchen consisted of 16 episodes. This season was titled “Rookies vs Veterans.”
This season of Hell’s Kitchen was quite fresh and unique as it brought a unique spin on the show’s format. In this season, the red team consisted of eight new participants (named the Rookies), while the blue team consisted of eight returning contestants (called the Veterans).
It was the first time since season 1 that teams weren’t separated based on gender. Up until episode 4. This is the first season in which a chef has resigned before the season finale. It’s also the first season where, despite withdrawing, a chef is brought back for the final dinner service.
The winner of this season was Ariel Contreas-Fox. He actually came in 3rd position in season 6 of Hell’s Kitchen. He was appointed as the Executive Chef at Hell’s Kitchen at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas.
This season was memorable for many reasons. Especially the fresh take on the show’s format. The second best season of Hell’s Kitchen also introduced the “Punishment Pass”.
1. Hell’s Kitchen – Season 6
Finally, we have reached the number one spot on this list. The best season of Hell’s Kitchen is season 6. It started airing in July 2006 and consisted of 16 candidates. However, Robert Hesse, a former contestant, entered the show.
During the post-mortem, Ramsay for the first time eliminated a chef in the kitchen. This is the first season in which the winner and runner-up did not get an elimination nomination. Moreover, this season features the first returning chef in the history of Hell’s Kitchen.
Executive chef Dave Levey, from San Diego was the ultimate winner of this season. He was appointed as the Head Chef at the Araxi Restaurant & Bar in Whistler, British Columbia. It was the first time a position has been given out in Canada.
There are many reasons why this is the best season of Hell’s Kitchen.For instance, this season featured some of the most likable chefs. The season was also quite compelling to watch. In addition, the season was quite entertaining as well.
Overall, it was definitely the best season of Hell’s Kitchen. That, however, wouldn’t have been possible without the amazing cast of this season.
In the end, the best season of Hell’s Kitchen solely depends on what the viewer wants to experience or watch. These picks were my honest opinions on which is the best seasons of Hell’s Kitchen. Since this is a reality show there isn’t quite a fixed benchmark of judging the seasons. It all basically boils down to personal opinion and taste.
We hope you enjoyed our ranking and are satisfied with our list.