After a month-long competition of being yelled at by Gordon Ramsay, cooking her heart out and defeating all of the other competitors, Christina Machamer came out on top during last week’s Hell’s Kitchen finale.
Christina snagged the year-long $250,000 salary as the executive sous chef at Gordon Ramsay at the London West Hollywood restaurant, which means a change of address for the Missouri native.
I asked OK!’s Rana Meyer, our resident Hell’s Kitchen fanatic, to sit down with Christina for a chat, now that the heat is off the former culinary student.
Are you shocked that you won?
Not really. Maybe at the time, but I’ve sort of had six months to get used to it. It was a long time ago.
How did you not tell anyone?
It wasn’t that hard not admitting that I had won. But you’d be in conversation, and be like, I can’t because I have something to do in August. It’s hard not to slip and say, "when I go to Los Angeles." That was really difficult.
How did you get on the show?
I went to an open casting call in New York City. You have to fill out this 10-page application. And I waited eight hours for my minute-and-a-half interview. Then I got called back to do a videotaped interview. When I left, I was like I should have said this. But the casting director was like, you’re hilarious. It worked out.
Were you nervous when you got it?
I was so excited. But you don’t find out that you made the show until like 24 hours before you have to fly out. And then you’re gone and sequestered for a month. So you have 24 hours to pay all your bills, drop out of school and make an excuse for where you’re going to be.
So it was only a month?
It’s not a quick month. They’re loooong days.
What is Gordon Ramsay really like?
He’s hysterical. When he’s in the kitchen and it’s his business, then he’s very much that strict Type-A personality. But outside of the kitchen, he’s funny and laidback. You can ask him anything. We talked about his football career, or lack there of, and about his family and his kids, and how do you balance all that stuff. He’s really open to answer any questions that we wanted to ask. He wears Diesel jeans and his favorite outfit to wear is a suit, so I think there really is a little fashionista inside there.
Was it fun to go on a shopping spree in Beverly Hills?
It was incredibly fun, but the show had all of our measurements. So I get there and everything fits. For anyone trying to buy clothes, that’s the biggest thing you have to tackle, so that was amazing.
What was the worst time that Gordon yelled at you?
I can’t remember when it happened, because I don’t think it made the show. But there was one time where I screwed up, surprise, and he’s like screaming in my ear, "You suck, you’re going home." It was twenty minutes that he’s screaming in my ear. Yes, chef, you’ve got it chef. There’s nothing else I could say. You can’t run away and hide. You have to stand there and keep cooking like a petrified cat.
Weren’t you one of the least yelled at?
I didn’t notice when the show was going on. I thought I had my fair share. I think there were definitely people he came down on, Ben for one. Ben was sloppy. Certain people definitely got theirs. I’m not sure if they deserved it or not.
Were Matt and Jen portrayed accurately?
The show is definitely edited, but there’s no script. So everything that everybody says were their words, whether they meant them or whether they were playing to the camera. Not sure which one it was.
Do you keep in touch anyone from the show?
I would like to. I think we were told that we weren’t supposed to. But then we broke that rule. We’re all so busy leading our own lives. I’ve talked to Vanessa little bit and Corey. I’ve talked to Petrozza’s girlfriend, because Petrozza’s really busy. I’m hoping now that it dies down, maybe we’ll get a chance to reconnect.
How did you get into cooking?
I’ve always cooked. I’ve always loved to eat. I’ve never been scared. You meet so many kids who don’t eat green food. I didn’t ever really want to be a cook. I wanted to be a ballerina, but that didn’t work out so well. (laughs) I went to school to be a lawyer. That also didn’t work out so well. I became so disenchanted. I sort of fell into this like so many people do.
Where do you want this to take you?
I’ve got a year with Gordon, and I’m not sure how things will work out. But it seems like a great company to work for because I want to travel. He has a restaurant in Tokyo, in Dubai, in France and in London. Assuming this business relationship works out, I’d love to be able to get out of Los Angeles, get out of this country and see other things. Eventually I’d like to open up my own spot, but there are some things I need to learn first.
Is risotto and beef Wellington that hard to make like it looks on the show?
It’s not that it’s that hard. Everybody can make a mediocre risotto, only a few people can make it perfect. And beef Wellington, if you screw up one step, you’re sunk. There’s like 24 steps to make it. There really is a finesse to make it.
What celebrity would you be scared to cook for?
I’d be scared to cook for any of the chefs, the big guys like Thomas Keller and Daniel Boulud. Because they know so much, I would be like, oh my God they’re going to pick apart every flaw. I’ve already cooked for Gordon, so I guess that’s a little comforting.
What did you most while you were locked away in Hell’s Kitchen?
Everything! You’re deprived of so much. Sleep and privacy and normal things like television. I missed my car and my radio so much. Just the ability to wake up and I would want to walk to the left. You can’t do anything while you’re there.
Have you been recognized yet?
A little bit, which is kind of creepy. Usually they just stare at me, and I feel like a freak. So it’s better when they come up and say something so at least I know why they’re staring at me. It’s totally weird.