Hell’s Kitchen Season 22 had the theme of the American Dream and Ryan O’Sullivan, the Hell’s Kitchen Season 22 winner, transformed that idea into a reality. After stepping through the door to celebrate his victory, the talented chef spoke to FoodSided about his victory, what he wants people to know about Irish food, and what is next on his culinary journey.
When Ryan first appeared in Hell’s Kitchen Season 22, some people might have thought that the Irishman had a strong chance to make it far into the competition. Earning high praise for his signature dish, that first plate seemed to epitomize what he does well, showcase impeccable technique while highlighting familiar, fresh ingredients.
As seen in the finale, he pushed his brigade to succeed. A stronger leader in the kitchen, his firm voice and attention to detail ensure that every plate was perfect.
Ryan believes that his background allowed him to showcase that leadership and he never backed away from the criticism levied in the competition. As Ryan told FoodSided, he experienced a few rough days in the kitchen long before he met Gordon Ramsay and believed that it helped.
He shared, “I had a thick skin growing up in a big Irish family. My mother was one of 15 and my dad is one of 12. There was always something that was going to help me down the line.”
“Working in the brigade style kitchen was a testament to my work ethnic. Gordon grew up in these old school French, tough kitchens. That tough love and working for old school chefs has helped me to better understand what Gordon was looking for. I know that whatever he said to me I was going to take it on the chin and run with it, use it. I think that he found a spark and passion in me.”
While Ryan found the ultimate Hell’s Kitchen success, he always has his Irish roots at heart. Although some people might think of St. Patrick’s Day fare of corned beef, cabbage and potatoes as the only food served on the Emerald Isle, Ryan wants to dispel that simple notion.
When asked about how his win could inspire more people to take an interest in Ireland and Irish cuisine, Ryan wants people to pull up a chair to the table and experience the bounty that Irish food has to offer.
He said, “the Irish food scene is exploding. Everything is about helping the fishmonger, the butcher, and the local farmer. Everything is sustainable and produce driven. The food celebrates the best offerings that are all around. I would love to put Ireland on the map. Sure, we all grew up with potatoes, but there is more than that. There is a focus on Gaelic New Cuisine. America might be my home right now, but Ireland will always be my heart and I want to people to experience it.”
Even though fans of Hell’s Kitchen might not be booking a trip to Cork this week, this season showcased how Ryan’s heritage influences his cooking. For example, he explained how his signature dish was a modern take on the traditional meat and two vegetables dish that was a daily staple in his family’s household. That modern play encapsulates a principle in Ryan’s culinary point of view.
Ryan said, one of his goals with cooking is to blend the familiar with the unfamiliar. While that concept seems simple, it is a way to get people to step out of their comfort zone. In his most recent chef position, it was something that has worked well. Some of his guests at the Palm Beach Florida country club just say, let Chef Ryan make the meal that he wants because they know it will be spectacular.
Now that he has been crowned the Hell’s Kitchen Season 22 winner, the future holds many opportunities for Ryan O’Sullivan. Since it is time to celebrate, he shared something that he often says with friends. He said, “with a glass in your hand, you raise it above, you raise it below, and you bring it to the center. We’re never above, we’re never below, we’re always beside. Slainte macara. It goes to show that no matter what we are doing in life, it does not matter because we are sitting here right now, enjoying the moment together, and nothing else really matters.”
Congratulations to Ryan O’Sullivan, Hell’s Kitchen Season 22 winner.
This Hell’s Kitchen season as well as other seasons can be streamed on Hulu. Be sure to tune into other Gordon Ramsay food televisions shows on FOX, including Next Level Chef Season 3 and MasterChef Junior.