Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A Reality Check With ... Melissa Firpo (FOX's "Hell's Kitchen")

29-year-old Melissa Firpo is a line cook from New York City. She was spared elimination last week and was moved to the men's team by Chef Ramsay. This week, she ran out of chances, becoming the latest chef to get the boot. She sits down with RealityCheckByGina to talk about her time in Hell.

RC: What is your cooking training & background?
Melissa: I graduated culinary school in ’95 & worked for different catering companies after that. I opened a gourmet deli in Long Island and ran that for 4 ½ years then worked with many Michelin star chefs at different restaurants. After that, I moved to NYC to work.

RC: There are so many cooking shows out there. What drew you to Hell’s Kitchen?
Melissa: I was actually on Craig’s List trying to send out my resume for Chef Ramsay’s restaurant, London NYC. I saw something that said to apply for the show. My mom watches the show & loves it. I decided to try & see what happened but I never thought I would make it!

RC: Is the show, with the drama & yelling, a lot more stressful than you anticipated?
Melissa: The yelling didn’t affect me so much as only getting 3 hours of sleep & being filmed 24 hours a day. That took some getting used to.

RC: You had a strong start in the competition. Did you think you’d go all the way?
Melissa: I thought, in the beginning, I had a good start. I thought my background would really help me. I just know how to do this. I know how to book customers, order food, do payroll & taxes, I had my own business.

RC: Do you generally get along better with men or women in the workplace?
Melissa: In 13 years, I’ve only worked with one female. I haven’t really worked with girls and I can see why. It’s 130 degrees in the kitchen, 6 days a week, working 16-18 hour days. You get burned, you get cut, and you can’t cry about it. I think women are more emotional and tend to take things more personally. I was trained in New York – you yell, you scream, but then the night is over and it’s a new day.

RC: Your dismissal from Hell’s Kitchen was pretty abrupt. Do you wish you got to respond?
Melissa: I think I’m actually the first contestant that didn’t get to say something. That’s probably for one of two reasons. One, because I was so horrible that I didn’t deserve to explain myself or two, I’d have a LOT to say and I’d be able to redeem myself. I wish I got to say something, I would’ve had a lot to say!

RC: Do you have a signature dish you make?
Melissa: Yes, it’s duck actually! My whole family likes it. Meat is really my forte. I like making sauces as well.

RC: What’s in the future for you? Are you back in New York?
Melissa: I’m back in New York working at a culinary school and pursuing opportunities. I’m very open to anything. I didn’t win Hell’s Kitchen but I’m hoping that it opened some avenues for me!

Hell's Kitchen airs Monday nights on FOX at 9pm EST

Get your Hell's Kitchen links while they're hot at sirlinksalot.net!


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