Yes, Chef! Local boy Andy Husbands meets the big badass chef on Hell’s Kitchen
by Louisa Kasdon
| July 20, 2009
The silence is semi-over. Chef Andy Husbands of Tremont 647 did not go to Mexico last January as everyone thought. He was actually slaving away in LA as one of the 16 contestants for the upcoming season of Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen. Husbands won’t tell all yet — he can’t say how many cuts he survived and how many episodes he’s in — but he is willing to talk about what it was like to be on camera 24/7 (the cameras ran everywhere but in the shower) for a solid month with 15 new BFFs/competitors. And at Tremont 647’s new Hell’s Kitchen Dinners, you can watch the series with Husbands and several of the other competitors as they view the show for the first time. Husbands predicts that some of the things he said and did during the last-man-standing month are sure to cause a “stir.”
You have a successful restaurant. You don’t want the first prize, a slot as head chef at Araxi in British Columbia. Why did you do this? For fun. The best analogy I can give you is that in ’92 when I first saw someone with a tongue piercing, I thought, “Wow. I wonder how much does that hurt? How bad could it be? Can I take it?” So obviously, I got my tongue pierced. At five years old, I stuck my arm into a wood-burning stove, to see what would happen. It’s the risk thing, the adventure, the challenge. Is there a risk that I’ll come off looking like I don’t know anything about cooking? There is that chance.
Is chef Ramsay as crazy as he seems? I wouldn’t know. I only saw him in the context of the show, where he seems to have a very limited vocabulary that consists mainly of the F-word and the C-word. It’s an old-school French kitchen. He called me “Bozo.” In my head, I’m thinking, “That’s not my name.” But all I ever said to him was, “Yes, Chef.”
Did you get upset? I used to work for a chef who made me cry nightly, so with chef Ramsay, I decided to filter everything he said, to figure out what he was really asking me to do instead of reacting to what he said. We’re not friends. He’s a very busy guy. It’s not like I have his cell phone or his e-mail. Would he call me if he came to town? Maybe.
How does the stress on the show compare to the stress of opening your own restaurant? It’s not the hours. I can work 16 hours a day doing prep if I need to, day after day — but give me some time off! With the show, the stress comes from never having any down time. You can never relax, not even when you sit down and have a beer with friends; you are wearing the microphone. They call you if you forget to turn it on. You sleep knowing that the night-vision cameras are on you in the dormitory.
Did you learn anything from the experience? Listen: he’s a great chef. And I did learn some stuff that I liked — and some stuff that I didn’t. I learned how hard I can work and how little I can sleep. But it was a hoot, and I’d do it again in a second.