Gordon Ramsay knows all about separating the best from the offal.
Rising above the very uneven fray, Nona Sivley and Russell Kook, both 29, were the last cheftestants standing coming into the eighth-season finale of Hell's Kitchen.
Just a few weeks ago, it was hard to imagine trusting either one to pour a bowl of cereal, let alone run a whole kitchen.
But Ramsay was compelled to name a winner, and he chose...
Nona, who managed to rise above the scrum that is the usual dinner service at the Hell's Kitchen restaurant, thereby winning $250,000, a gig as spokeswoman for Rosemount Winery and—the pièce de résistance—the head chef's position at L.A. Market.
"My door opened! It opened!" exulted the former sous chef from Atlanta, referring to Ramsay's last bit of trickery, which is to let the winning chef's door open while the loser's remains locked.
"I fought and I fought and I fought, and this is so amazing," Nona continued. "I am so thankful. This was a huge sacrifice, missing my son's first birthday, missing his first steps. But it was absolutely worth it to make his life better."
Ramsay called her palate "amazing" and praised her "real passion for cooking."
First off, Russell and Nona were tasked with preparing a five-course meal for a series of VIP judges—a relative breeze after endless days and nights in the kitchen spent sparring with their fellow wannabes and serving as Ramsay's verbal punching bags.
Though Russell took the first round, 3-2, both proved to be perfectly capable cooks.
Unfortunately, they had to rely on previously eliminated contestants—including the volatile Rob, lackadaisical Vinny and mouthy Sabrina—to help them during their final do-or-die dinner service.
And that's exactly where Russell decided the blame should go for his loss—on Vinny, Rob, Jillian and Sabrina.
"I'm pissed," the sous chef from Madison, Wis., said bluntly. "I'm not happy at all. I chose the team that I wanted and I thought they would help me win. In fact, they helped me lose. Thanks a lot, guys. You would never get a job in any city I work. I would definitely blackball you...because you guys f--ked me so royally tonight."
Sounds like somebody's got a little indigestion from all that heavy cooking.