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Hell’s Kitchen: If You Can’t Stand The Heat, Get Out Of The Kitchen

Gordon Ramsay has an ear-to-ear Cheshire cat grin.

He’s working the room, greeting guests with handshakes and hugs, telling stories and taking selfies. The diners here tonight are not all VIPs, but fans of his food and fame—just lucky enough to have booked a reservation on opening weekend.

HELL’S KITCHEN soft-opened two weeks earlier, but this is the evening it gets real for the chefs donning the show’s signature uniforms—those red or blue jackets with coordinating bandanas.

Tonight, Ramsay is in the room. But this isn’t the fiery guy seen on television. This is the real man behind the multimillion dollar media and restaurant empire he created. And he just opened the crown jewel of his kingdom in the Entertainment Capital of the World.

“This is not competition. This is the real deal,” he says.

WELCOME TO HELL’S KITCHEN

Once inside, past the talking, life-sized Ramsay video wall, diners will feel as if they’ve stepped foot on the very stage of the show, where all the Hell’s Kitchen winners gained their fame.

Paying tribute to Ramsay’s Fox Network Hell’s Kitchen television show, the 8,000-square-foot restaurant sports a showcase kitchen and some retail space. But even the overhead lighting carries the HK insignia, with brass rods resembling pitchforks.

In terms of food, this is classic Ramsay. The menu consists of
Hell’s Kitchen favorites such as pan-seared scallops, lobster risotto, beef Wellington, brick-pressed chicken and crispy-skin salmon.

His signature cocktails arrive with humorous “notes from Gordon,” observations and witty comments from the chef that are printed on a rolled British flag scroll.

“HELL’S KITCHEN is the perfect setting in one of the coolest cities in the world.”
—Gordon Ramsay

BUILDING AN EMPIRE

HELL’S KITCHEN is Ramsay’s fifth restaurant in Las Vegas. His first, Gordon Ramsay Steak, opened at Paris Las Vegas in 2012. Two others followed later that year, and then in the fall of 2016, he introduced Gordon Ramsay Fish & Chips at The LINQ Promenade.

“Steak was an important entry [into Las Vegas]. We brought a bit of cool Britannia to Vegas,” Ramsay recalls. “That was a great indicator for the demand. Then with each restaurant we raised the bar, learning from our mistakes.”

Now Ramsay runs kitchens in Las Vegas that specialize in burgers, steaks, fish and chips, and British pub fare—all within steps of each other. He admits he sees Las Vegas as one of the world’s great food cities.

“I travel a lot, and this is one of the most competitive food cities in the world,” he says. “All the big boys are here. It can compete with Paris, New York and London. I love that jeopardy. That challenge. This is the arena I strive to be in.”

Nobody has ever said Ramsay wasn’t competitive.

Gordon Ramsay and his Hell's Kitchen team

Gordon Ramsay and his Hell’s Kitchen team. Photo by Erik Kabik.

RAMSAY’S TELEVISION FUTURE

HELL’S KITCHEN is ideal for filming, and Ramsay says he has plans to shoot some of the show’s episodes in the shiny, new space, including next season’s finale. “There is no greater city that lends itself to a live venue for the finale. Hell’s Kitchen is restaurant-theater. Perfect for Las Vegas. It’s just high-octane, high-energized service,” he says.

In addition, Ramsay reveals, “I’ll be holding several competitions here too. I’ll be inviting chefs to come and go head-to-head, sort of like Iron Chef.” Could that mean we see the heavyweight battle we’ve been waiting for? Is Ramsay vs. Flay on the horizon? When posed that question, Ramsay gives an animated answer.

“I’m dying to get Bobby Flay in that kitchen. Giada can do the judging. Blind taste or whatever,” he spouts. “I would love to put him on the blue team. I’ll go on the red team. Bring a couple sous chefs and we’ll have a cook-off. It would be a pleasure to see him in that kitchen in competition this year. Get your apron on Bobby—let’s go!”

Gordon Ramsay.

Gordon Ramsay. Photo by Erik Kabik.

JUDGE AND MENTOR

Ramsay says, in the end, he just wants to share what he’s learned over the years with the generation to follow, whether they’re kids with big dreams or hardened chefs looking for their big break. When asked if it’s hard to switch hats and go from filming MasterChef Junior to Hell’s Kitchen, he points out the vast differences in the goals of the shows.

The winners of Hell’s Kitchen are funneled into head-chef positions, he quickly reminds us. This essentially makes the show an audition.

So naturally, he has to be strong on the contestants of Hell’s Kitchen. “These winners are dropped into one of the biggest and toughest arenas in the culinary scene. I gotta be tough,” he says. “It’s a competition. I’m about to hand a check to [the winner of Hell’s Kitchen] for $250,000, and put them in a restaurant in Las Vegas with an amazing profile, where they’re going to be dissected every time they turn the gas on. So yes, there is a different jacket. But I do it because I want them to feel the heat and be able to succeed.”

On MasterChef Junior, he’s a bit more forgiving— even though nearly every episode seems to end in tears. “I’m a Dad. I have four kids. Only thing I ask is for them to show me their passion. Find that passion and I’ll back it,” he says. “On MasterChef Junior, [the contestants] cook with no fear. I want that raw talent. I want to feed that hunger.”

He pauses, rubs his chin and continues, “I’m like a fútbol coach to those kids,” Ramsay, a former soccer star with dreams of playing professionally, explains. “I tell them, ‘We’re going to go to hell and back.

You’re going to love me. You’re going to hate me. But in the end, you’re going to leave this competition with so much more confidence than you ever had before.’”

A statement that rings true for his Hell’s Kitchen competitors as well.

BUILDING AN EMPIRE

The Gordon Ramsay Group operates a total of 30 restaurants globally. His partnership with Caesars Entertainment includes eight restaurants nationwide—five right here in Las Vegas.

May 2012
Gordon Ramsay Steak
PARIS LAS VEGAS

December 2012
Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill
CAESARS PALACE

December 2012
Gordon Ramsay Burger
PLANET HOLLYWOOD RESORT & CASINO

February 2015
Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill
CAESARS ATLANTIC CITY

October 2016
Gordon Ramsay Fish & Chips
THE LINQ PROMENADE

November 2017
Gordon Ramsay Steak
HORSESHOE CASINO BALTIMORE

January 2018
Gordon Ramsay HELL’S KITCHEN
CAESARS PALACE

Summer 2018
Gordon Ramsay Steak
HARRAH’S RESORT ATLANTIC CITY

About The Author

Ryan Slattery grew up in Boston. It wasn’t until he moved to Las Vegas in 2003 that the city’s sports teams started winning championships—eight since he left. Now, he’s only allowed back to visit. Ryan is the managing editor of Vegas Player magazine and also writes about travel, entertainment and dining for a number of national publications.

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