Exclusive Interview with Chef and restaurateur, Robert Hesse of Hell’s Kitchen

HELL'S KITCHEN: Chef/host Gordon Ramsay in the “Young Guns: A Devilish Challenge” episode airing Monday, July 19 (8:00-9:01PM ET/PT) on FOX. CR: Scott Kirkland / FOX. © 2021 FOX MEDIA LLC.
HELL'S KITCHEN: Chef/host Gordon Ramsay in the “Young Guns: A Devilish Challenge” episode airing Monday, July 19 (8:00-9:01PM ET/PT) on FOX. CR: Scott Kirkland / FOX. © 2021 FOX MEDIA LLC. /
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Let’s get to our chat.

Domenic Marinelli for Guilty Eats: Chef, how did being on Hell’s Kitchen effect your career?

"Chef Robert Hesse: “Hell’s Kitchen certainly change my life in many different ways not only the extreme exposure from fan base all over the country, as well as globally, the opportunities that that show kicked down barriers and opened more doors for me to do more extreme Chef things, like becoming the executive chef at the Playboy mansion in Los Angeles, as well as numerous corporate executive chef roles, which ultimately sent me on my own path to open my own restaurant and brand: FO’CHEEZY TWISTED MELTZ. “Although losing two seasons back to back, seasons five and six, with an ultimate grand prize of financial gain being the “loser,” didn’t deter any public appearances nor financial gain over the years of self promotion and cross promotions and the ability to be more visible to my fan base and the chefs world…I always encourage people to sign up for these types of shows because it will literally change your life for either better or worse depending how you do. “Now I will say the show is a television show for entertainment, and a lot of people asked me’ is it scripted?’ and the best way that I can say is that it’s a script to a point of scenarios; that is a game plan by production…a map that is giving to the contestants, and how they play out those scenarios, that is how the show is made up; drama happens, defeat, glory…it’s all perspective, but I would agree with most that have been on the show, that what you see as a viewer is depicted on how production wants to portray you as a contestant…It’s like in Hell’s Kitchen is the bees nest, the contestants are the bees, and Gordon Ramsay’s the big fat stick. “As time went on with doing all the appearances and all the traveling I’ve worked 36 states in four countries since my time on Hell’s Kitchen and during that time I came to the realization and confidence level that I needed to start my own brand so ultimately going on Hell’s kitchen was the right direction for me and my path; when you go to the show the goal was to win a restaurant. It just took a little longer than expected but ultimately the goal has been achieved; currently on my company as a food truck mobile unit to brick and mortar locations and now in the realm of opening my third location, as well as expanding into the world of franchising. “Not everyone that goes on Hell’s kitchen can achieve such things however I am an advocate for all past contestants to really show them how to be a self promoter and how to obtain the goals that I have achieved; we’re like a family, we’ve been through a lot of the same things and it’s good to go ahead and share your achievements with them and also help guide them in the same direction and path during my time. I have made a lot of influential contacts either businesswise or celebrity; they have really helped my career and to stay relevant after so many years. “It also led to my path of losing 455 pounds since my time on the show. I was 640 pounds, very unhealthy, multiple heart attacks, and I can tell you each heart attack on the show  sure wasn’t scripted, so it boosted my spirit to go ahead and take heed of what Gordon Ramsay said when I left : to get healthy because I would be an unstoppable force in this business.”"

DM for Guilty Eats: What you did on the show was inspiring — both seasons — and what you did to transform yourself after the show was inspiring too. To see your success unfold on social media has been a joy for me, and to talk to you about it and hear what you’ve learned is a benefit I hope our readers here at Guilty Eats appreciate. Any chef-in-the-making would do good to follow in your footsteps. Do you still watch the show, Chef?

"Chef Robert Hesse: “As far as watching the show, multiple people around me, family, friends, (they) watch that show, but to be honest with you, I’m always working, which most chefs work in the night; the show comes on at night, but with streaming services and things you would think that I would stay up and watch the show that kind of launched my career, but I’m very busy keeping the path and the standards that Gordon Ramsay instilled in me into my own business. “However, it is fun to go ahead and jump in the DeLorean and go back in time and see how it all started now and again and what’s really cool is all new fans are coming out of the woodwork. I mean young fans and older fans now with streaming services like Peacock, Hulu, and all of these services as a way to go back in time and watch it right from the beginning so people are already messaging me that they’ve never seen the show and now I’m their favorite contestant, and a new wave of fans have come down the pike from seasons 5 and 6. “To this day, after that show’s been on for so many years, you would think people would learn how to cook a Wellington or a scallop (laughs), however it is nice that the next generation of people are finding the show and they still consider seasons five and six one of their favorites of all time.”"