Not one, but *two* plant-based chefs will descend into the fiery pits of the culinary inferno that is “Hell’s Kitchen” season 20. Chefs Emily Hersh and Josie Clemens—a vegetarian and a vegan chef, respectively—will compete on the show against 16 other chefs in the season, titled “Young Guns.” The oldest chef out of 18 competitors is 24-years-old.
In addition to taking home a grand prize of $250,000, the winner will earn the position of executive chef at Gordon Ramsay Steak at Paris Las Vegas, one of the 54-year-old chef’s many restaurants.
Clemens, 24, has been cooking professionally since she was 15. “My culinary background is in French and Italian cuisine,” the vegan chef tells LIVEKINDLY in an email. “But since going vegan, I’ve dabbled with Eastern cuisines. I’ve always been drawn to the culture, even since I was a little girl.”
The Michigan native specializes in making nostalgic childhood favorites, such as mac n’ cheese, jackfruit ribs, and homemade pasta. “Recreating comfort foods is really important to me,” she adds. “I like feeding people’s hearts by connecting them back to simpler times in their lives.”
Hersh hails from Texas and is a graduate of The Natural Gourmet Institute NYC and the University of Texas at Austin. She’s also the first vegetarian chef to compete on Hell’s Kitchen. “I can’t wait for you all to follow along on one of the most rewarding experiences of my life,” she wrote on Instagram.
“It feels like a huge accomplishment to represent so many different communities,” Hersh tells LIVEKINDLY in an email. “I feel like I was able to be a bright voice for young chefs, plant-based eaters, and eating disorder recovery warriors.”
Hell’s Kitchen Lands Two Plant-Based Chefs
This is the first time that Gordon Ramsay’s cooking competition series—which is now in its 20th season—will feature plant-based chefs.
The move for Ramsay to include chefs who eschew meat might come as a surprise to his fans, as the Michelin-star chef has been known to take the occasional dig at veganism.
But lately, the celebrity chef appears to have given plant-based foods a more serious treatment. But not without cracking a joke first. Earlier this year, Ramsay took to TikTok to tell his then 22 million followers that he was going vegan.
“After three decades of cooking, hundreds and hundreds and thousands of hours behind the stove, I’m turning vegan,” he said in the video. He added: “for lunch only.” But, he did share how to make an eggplant steak.
Clemens, who is vegan, says that she is excited for the opportunity to promote her lifestyle on a larger platform. “Six million people who normally watch a meat cooking show are about to be exposed to veganism,” she wrote in an Instagram caption.
“Being the first vegan chef means that this is a golden opportunity to lead people compassionately,” she adds. “So they have an opportunity to discover their innate pure nature that is connected to the Earth and all beings.”
“Hell’s Kitchen: Young Guns” premiers on May 31 at 8 p.m. EST on Fox.