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Culinary students work with celebrity Chef Gordon Ramsay on reality show

COLUMBUS, Miss. – Some familiar faces around campus will be seen on national television when “Hotel Hell” airs Monday, Aug. 11 on Fox at 9/8 central.

Mississippi University for Women culinary students Dustin Vance and Shawn Thomson were asked to help with the show when celebrity Chef Gordon Ramsay visited Starkville last year to tape an edition of “Hotel Hell,” a reality show in which Ramsay is on a mission to fix hotels, inns and bed and breakfasts that need to be reenergized.“

We were called last summer by one of our professors and asked if we would like to work with Chef Ramsay. We were sure this was a huge practical joke at first,” Vance said. “But, we showed up in June at Hotel Chester and thankfully so. We spent three days working with Ramsay and his executive chefs on set.”

Mary Helen Hawkins, chef instructor and certificate program coordinator at The W, said the supervising producer of “Hotel Hell 2” called requesting help. Hawkins was unavailable because she was teaching Culinary Camp for Kids and recruited Vance and Thomson to assist with the show.

Hawkins said she was appreciative that some of The W students were able to participate in such a unique experience.

“Having the opportunity to work in a live kitchen with experts is invaluable to students in our profession,” she said. “The technical aspects of our profession are something we can drill into students on a daily basis, but there is also an emotional/stress level that is hard to convey and this kind of opportunity allows students to experience it up close and personal.”

The W students helped the executive chefs create and execute the new menu for the restaurant, according to Vance.

“We brought in new dishware, deep cleaned the kitchen, rearranged everything and basically made it a whole new restaurant,” he said. “In addition we completely remade the menu with new food that will be unveiled on the show with other surprises as well.”

Vance said it was a great experience, adding that he had no idea how many people it took to create such a large production.

“I learned that there are a ton of people behind the scenes, literally. A ton of work goes into making even the tiniest 30 seconds of footage and that scene may costs hundreds and thousands of dollars.

“I also learned some of the basics in creating successful menus and concepts for successful restaurants. But maybe the most important lesson was that Gordon Ramsey is actually a really awesome guy who seems to genuinely care about the people he is helping, but don't tell him I said that...he has a reputation to maintain,” he added.

Vance is a senior culinary arts and photography student from Bruce. Thomson, who graduated from the culinary arts program in May, is from Doylesville, Pa.


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Aug. 8, 2014
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