The finale of Hell’s Kitchen season 18 is tonight. This season was unique in that its competitors fell into one of two different categories: “rookie” or “veteran.” The “rookies” were competing on the show for the first time, whereas the “veterans” had competed on past seasons and fallen short of victory. The winner of season 18 will earn the head chef position at Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen Restaurant in Las Vegas.
Beware of spoilers regarding what happened on tonight’s 2-hour finale, including who won. This post will be updated live as the episode airs.
It was established during last week’s episode that Ariel Contreras-Fox had secured a place in the final, so tonight’s episode will begin with a challenge between Mia Castro and Bret Hauser. Based on promotional video shared ahead of the finale, we know that Bret gets eliminated because the final dinner service is between Ariel and Mia. Within the first 5 minutes of the two-hour finale, Gordon gave Mia the second finale spot, eliminating Bret.
For their finale challenge, Gordon sent the women off to create their competition-winning menus. Ariel was given Chef Christina as her sous-chef; Mia was paired with Chef Jockey.
Chef Ramsay surprised both finalists with visits from their families, and they all went to Six Flags together to celebrate their accomplishments so far in the competition and relax before the big finale dinner service. Ramsay told Ariel and Mia that they were getting to ride the new Six Flags ride, “Full Throttle,” before its opening to the public; however, he was actually leading them to their final challenge in front of a screaming audience. The menu must consist of one cold and one hot appetizer, and three different entrees.
Mia’s cold appetizer got a 9, and Ariel’s got an 8. After the chicken entree round, for which Ariel’s roasted chicken breast entree received an 8 and Mia’s Peruvian roasted chicken got a 9, the chefs were tied. Ariel’s red meat entree was well received, and both were recognized for the heart and heritage they put into their dishes; however, Mia won the challenge, giving her added confidence before the final dinner service.
For the final dinner service, Mia and Ariel had to lead chef teams of their previously-eliminated contestants. Bret, the most recently eliminated contestant, was chosen for Ariel’s team. T Mia had trouble staying organized and communicative at first, which her team decided was due to nerves. Reflecting back on her season 6 appearance on the show, Ariel said she is now confident and ready to get what she wants.
Once dinner service began, Mia emphasized communication, and Ariel told her team she would be supporting them the whole way. Then, Gordon Ramsay told the women to yell what he usually yells before every dinner service: “Marino, open Hell’s Kitchen!”
During the service, Mia’s first issue was undercooked pork. Then, Ariel had issues with Scotley when she determined he was over-charring the meat, but she handled it efficiently and confidently. Both chefs found their rhythm and their respective kitchens were putting out consistently high-quality entrees. Then, Roe on Team Mia had trouble producing sea bass that cooked correctly, and Mia had a hiccup that she handled calmly until she was able to send out seabass dishes that she was proud of.
After their last dinner service was done, it was up to Ramsey to reflect back on the night and the season to determine who was more deserving of the head chef position.
Finally, it was time to announce the winner of Hell’s Kitchen season 18. The women walked through a crowd of fans and family to Chef Ramsay’s office. He had glowing things to say about Mia’s creativity and Ariel’s consistency. Although Ramsay said they were both winners in his eyes, veteran finalist Ariel’s door opened, announcing her as the winner of season 18. Her head chef position comes with a salary of $250,000.