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Hell's Kitchen: Rules That Every Contestant Has To Follow

"Hell's Kitchen" is known for serving up drama and turning out impeccable cuisine as contestants pull out all the stops in order to win the grand prize, which includes a job on Gordon Ramsay's team, usually taking a post at one of his restaurants. Chefs participate in a variety of food-based challenges that test their palettes, their work ethic, and their teamwork. This includes the all-important dinner service, which finds contestants working under pressure in order to serve a room full of hungry diners. As contestants work to keep their eyes on the prize, there are plenty of rules they must follow behind the scenes.

In 2010, executive producers Kent Weed and Arthur Smith told Delish that joining the show requires contestants to cut their connection with the outside world for five weeks, including speaking to their families. While they spend each day cooking for other people, contestants still have to cook for themselves. Their sleep schedule also changes, with many going to sleep around 2 a.m. before waking up at 7 a.m. to do it all over again.

The strict rules and the long days are no joke, and two Season 21 contestants have shared their experiences adjusting to life on the "Hell's Kitchen" set. 

The adjustments that contestants go through to adhere to the Hell's Kitchen program

Season 21 contestants Alejandro Najar and Cheyenne Nichols know about the rules of "Hell's Kitchen" firsthand, including cutting ties with the outside world. Nichols told Akron Beacon Journal that smartwatches are not allowed, noting that she was given an analog watch to replace her Apple watch. As for their eating schedule, Najar told the publication that they mainly eat at night, with grab-and-go foods becoming the perfect option as contestants are on set anywhere from 16 to 20 hours each day. "It was very much so like a college diet," he said, adding that one go-to meal was Hot Pockets.

"Hell's Kitchen" contestants have a packed schedule, but learning is at the core of the experience. Executive Producer Arthur Smith told Delish, "Everything is regimented, everything is part of the program. [Contestants] are always learning something, prepping something, or meeting with the sous chefs, who are with them a lot," he said. And it's a reminder that this show is really an unconventional job interview. For years, fans have seen Gordon Ramsay focus on his world-renowned business and craft amid filming. He told Entertainment Weekly in September 2022, "I run a restaurant, Fox runs a show. If I can continue to run a restaurant, I'll continue doing it. So I keep it real, oh my God, and I play real, and I work hard for it."