The Hell's Kitchen season 11 winner won't be going to work for Gordon Ramsay after all.
After outlasting 19 others on the Fox reality show, Ja'Nel Witt was tapped to become head chef at Ramsay's new restaurant at Ceasars Palace in Las Vegas. The season finale of the cooking competition, in which Witt was declared the winner by the hot-tempered celebrity chef, aired on July 25.
On the Hell's Kitchen Facebook page, ITV studios posted the following message yesterday about the job that pays $250,000:
"The team at Hell's Kitchen was incredibly excited about Ja'Nel Witt's season win, and her opportunity to move in to a head chef position at Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill in Vegas. Recent unforeseen personal circumstances will now unfortunately prevent her from accepting the position, which is a huge disappointment for Ja'Nel and all of us. She's an incredible talent, and we all wish her much success with the next chapter of her career."
Witt sent out a confirming tweet yesterday about not accepting the prize: "Due to personal matters, I will not be joining the team in Las Vegas, but I wish them continued success."
TMZ is reporting that a failed drug test prevented Witt from taking the Vegas job. TMZ claims that "Ceasars has a notoriously strict drug policy... and requires all employees to submit to drug testing." TMZ indicated that Witt will still pocket the $250,000, however.
Fox has indicated that Hell's Kitchen runner-up Mary Poehnelt won't be getting the Ceasars Palace gig in place of Witt either. According to the Los Angeles Times, "Witt's calm, cool demeanor and her creativity gave her the edge over Poehnelt, even though Poehnelt had one of the most who impressive runs in 'Hell's Kitchen' history. She was solidly a middle-of-the-pack player when the season began, and in fact was nominated again and again for elimination by her team.But she fought back and outlasted the very competitors who tried to undermine her."
Are you a fan of Hell's Kitchen? If so, does this outcome surprise you?
I would like to express my sincerest thanks to HELL'S KITCHEN,Gordon Ramsay,Caesars Palace & my supportive fans for this amazing experience.
— Ja'Nel Witt (@JaNelHK11) August 23, 2013