If you have watched Hell’s Kitchen or any food show featuring Chef Gordon Ramsay, then you are likely very aware of how he feels about vegetarian and vegan cooking. If you aren’t, then the short answer is that Ramsay has been very critical of vegan cooking and veganism in general throughout his career, often using his very blunt style.
However, that may be changing. Vegetarian and vegan cooking are having something of a moment with more and more people at least deciding to try cooking with a plant-based focus. While something like a vegan season of Top Chef is still highly unlikely, more and more plant-based chefs are turning up on television cooking competitions.
Including, for the first time ever, on Season 20 of Hell’s Kitchen. You read that right. Ramsay has invited not one but two plant-based chefs to compete for the job of a lifetime. Both are members of the Red Team and for both, it will be a difficult road ahead, that’s for sure.
The two chefs are Josie Clemons from Michigan and Emily Hersh from Texas. Clemons is a vegan chef while Hersh is a vegetarian-trained chef. The difference between the two is that Clemons strictly uses only plant-based elements in her cooking.
Hell’s Kitchen: Young Guns is the perfect season to add plant-based chefs.
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With Season 20 of Hell’s Kitchen focused on youth, it gives Ramsay a perfect excuse to try adding plant-based chefs to the cooking competition. While it may be more of an issue in a traditional season, the Young Guns premise is a bit more forgiving. Of course plant-based cooking skews to a younger demographic so choosing this season to add two plant-based chefs to add also makes both good practical and business sense.
In an odd twist, if one of them should win the whole thing, it will mean that when they take over Gordon Ramsay Steak in Paris Las Vegas it will be seeing a major menu change.
For her part, Clemons sees this as a huge opportunity to expose vegan cooking to a much broader, mainstream audience. She wrote on her Instagram:
"“The thing I’m most excited for about this show is the fact that 6 million people who normally watch a meat cooking show are about to be exposed to veganism….whether it be their first or their hundredth, they’re about to see veganism planted in mainstream media.”"
So do either Clemons or Hersh have a realistic chance of winning? That’s tough to say. Although Ramsay’s attitude about plant-based cooking has changed and softened over the last year, has it changed enough that he would make one the head chef in one of his restaurants?
Something tells me that it is doubtful. Never say never but I don’t see either of these chefs opening a door at the finale. I could be wrong but I don’t think I am.
We’ll all see how they do and how far these two chefs make it in the competition when Hell’s Kitchen: Young Guns debuts on Monday, May 31.
What do you think Guilty Eaters? Are you excited to see some plant-based cooking on a show like Hell’s Kitchen? Or do you think Ramsay is wasting his time? Leave a comment below and let us know or join the conversation on our Twitter and Facebook pages.