We had the chance to chat with Justin Antiorio and talk about his experiences on Hell’s Kitchen. Justin is a fun and exciting guy, but he’s all business in the kitchen. On last night’s show, he was the first person in Hell’s Kitchen history to ever get all of the blind taste test correct. He guessed all four out of four and won reward for his Blue Team. Justin got the sunchoke correct for the win, which was a very difficult ingredient. He’s a super talented chef and came here to win it all. Check out our interview below for all your details on Justin Antiorio.
FoodBeat: What is your culinary history?
Justin Antiorio: Actually my father is a chef. He’s been cooking for over 25 years now. Growing up I spent my time at the hotels and restaurants where he worked. I remember being a young kid running around the kitchen and ordering room service. Cooking is really in my blood. My brother became a chef too, and then I joined him 10 years later. It’s a big family of food.
FoodBeat: How did you find out about Hell’s Kitchen?
Justin Antiorio: Actually I had never even seen an episode. I’ve always been working in the kitchens and I get home after service, so quite late. The show airs before I get home so I’ve never had the opportunity to watch it. However, my father retired a few years ago and he’s been watching the show religiously. I think he put my name in because out of the blue I was contacted. They liked me and had me in for a call back.
FoodBeat: What was it like cooking for Gordon Ramsay?
Justin Antiorio: Chef was amazing. The first day time I met him I was so nervous and scared. In the kitchen he is all business. The prize this season is to work at his restaurant in Las Vegas, so he’s extra cautious. While he’s intense and can be scary when he’s angry, he is really just pushing us to do our best. Outside of the kitchen he’s the nicest guy though. It’s great to go on the reward trips with him.
FoodBeat: This season of Hell’s Kitchen has been full of drama- and yet you seem so cool and collected.
Justin Antiorio: I think there are two Justin’s- one for work and one for play. While I’m in the kitchen I am all business. I focus of my work and stay busy. Outside of work I have a much bigger personality though.
FoodBeat: So your strategy is just to cook the best you can?
Justin Antiorio: Yeah, I think it is. I just want to do my best work and be rewarded for my results. I think that there is way too much drama on the show. You’re here to cook, not act up for television. 100% of the drama is BS and won’t get people anywhere. Our careers are to cook, not to make fans off of the show. My strategy is to cook and make myself proud. It will take both passion and cooking technique to win and I have both. If you want me to dance, I’ll dance. Chef Gordon Ramsay wants me to cook, so I’m cooking.
FoodBeat: If you win, what will it mean for you?
Justin Antiorio: I think the biggest prize this season is the honor of cooking at Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant Steak in Las Vegas. The money is great of course, but the personal satisfaction is much better. It will mean the world for me if I get to win.
FoodBeat: If you had to give this season a label, what would it be? Dramatic? Fun? Challenging?
Justin Antiorio: I think this season has every label imaginable. The lows are really low. The highs are really high. There’s a ton of drama of course. People are looking back at how they acted on the show and they’re really shocked it’s on television. But you know, you actually said those things. The editors can’t make this stuff up. You acted like that and said those things and you have to live with it. I am serious on the show because I actually want to win. I want to be judged on my cooking and not if I’m popular on twitter or where ever. To me this season should be labeled ‘fun’ because I’m focused on my passion- cooking.
FoodBeat: On your website, people can write in with their questions. Where can they contact you to answer some of their cooking problems?
Justin Antiorio: Sure! Come find me at my website cookingwithjustin.com/. Ask me any cooking question you have and I’ll give you the chef answer. Also find me on facebook at facebook.com/ChefJustin. I’m getting some “Team Justin” t-shirts soon, so any fans of mine can look out for that on facebook.
FoodBeat: Could you give me a quick tip on one of my questions? I have a very nice set of aluminum steel pans and yet I can’t seem to cook without things sticking all over them and then they’re a pain to clean. What am I doing wrong?
Justin Antiorio: Number one is you’re not doing anything wrong. In a professional kitchen we cook a much higher heat. If you tried it at home you would smoke out your whole house. The pans we use are not necessarily what you should. To make your pans work, try spraying them with a non-stick spray. It bonds to the metal and holds tight so you can cook without so many problems. That’s what I use at home.
FoodBeat: Anything else you want our readers to know?
Justin Antiorio: I just want people to know that I am playing to win. Cooking is my life and it would be amazing to work for Gordon Ramsay. I can guarantee you will see more of me, so tune in and follow my journey.