Ben Walanka was a contestant on Season 5 and Season 17 of Hell's Kitchen. On season 5, he ranked in 4th place, and on season 17, he ranked in 16th place.

Personality Edit

Ben was an inconsistent performer, who gave good and bad performances, but always admitted his mistakes, was very honest, and had a big heart. He developed a friendship with Danny despite both of them having some early clashes and also developed a friendship with Robert. On season 17, he was noted to have gained a lot of weight since his previous run, and had diabetic issues. However, he was still determined to perform well despite collapsing a few times.

Season 5 Edit

Episode 1Edit

During the Signature Dish Challenge, Ben was the final contestant to have his dish judged by Ramsay. He made a pan-seared pecan duck, which was deemed the best dish on the men's team as it was praised for looking attractive and tasting nice.

When the teams were lined up, the men revealed their new team name, the "Blues Brothers". During dinner service, Ben was on the appetizer station with Robert. Their first order of spaghetti came out raw, but they were able to send up appetizers after the power came back from an outage. The blue team lost the dinner service because of Giovanni's poor performance as a waiter.

He was not nominated for elimination.

Episode 2Edit

During the Scallop Cleaning Challenge, Ben cleaned eleven scallops, but only three of them were accepted. Despite his poor performance, the blue team won 36-35, and were rewarded with a helicopter tour of Catalina Island along with a submarine ride.

During dinner service, Ben was on the garnish station. At one point, Ramsay had him come over to the appetizer station to show Charlie how to make a proper risotto, as the latter did not know how to make one. He was able to get one out, which was tasting delicious. The blue team won the dinner service.

At elimination, Ben participated in the standing ovation for Ji's departure, along with his teammates and the red team.

Episode 3Edit

During the Meat & Cow Challenge, Ben was the first person to compete for the blue team during the meat identification part, and only got two cuts wrong. On the Cow part, he was the fourth person of the team to attempt it, and managed to get them all correct, earning his team the win. The blue team flew in a private jet to Sunstone Winery in Santa Ynez, California, where they had a wine tasting and a steak dinner with Ramsay.

During the Steakhouse double dinner service, Ben was on the dessert station for the first seating. Due to a misunderstanding on Ramsay's desserts pick up call, he made six desserts thirty minutes into service, before any of the appetizers were sent out. Ramsay found that incredibly dumb and chewed him out for wasting six desserts before sending appetizers, which he took the blame for. When the blue team finished the first seating, Ramsay berated him for his dumb mistake about that incident. During the second seating, in which he was a waiter, Charlie asked him to check on one of his tables to see if he got their order. Later, he was seen trying to send back a steak which he claimed was undercooked, but Ramsay told him it was cooked correctly. The blue team lost the service.

He was not nominated for elimination.

Episode 4Edit

Before the next challenge, Ben got annoyed when Danny called himself the strongest chef of the blue team, as it made him arrogant. The blue team lost the Football Team & Cheerleaders Breakfast Service Challenge, and was forced to clean up the dining room and both kitchens, and prep them for that night’s service. Back in the dorms, he blamed Danny for being slow on the pancakes, but Danny argued that he, at least, helped him on sending them to the pass. This led to an argument where he angrily told Danny that he "couldn't cook his cock". After that, he left for some alone time, where he threw a chair on the patio.

Before service, Sous Chef Gloria asked the blue team where the red team's tomato butter sauce was, but Ben said that he did not have it ready yet, and went to make a batch. During dinner service, he was on the meat station. He sent up the red team's sauce to Andrea, but it turned out to be too salty. He then had Danny make another batch, which the latter succeeded in. When it came to the entrées, he brought down his lamb, but they were sliced too thin and Ramsay said he would not even serve them to his own dog. Both teams lost dinner service, and were asked to nominate two members each.

Ben was the blue team's second nominee for elimination, with Seth being the first, and joined Colleen and Lacey for the red team. He survived elimination as Ramsay told him to get back in line. After elimination, he and his team welcomed Lacey as a new teammate, not being very happy about it.

Episode 5Edit

Ben was still shocked by the news that Lacey was on the blue team, and bluntly told her that they were not looking for another Seth. But, Lacey asked for a chance to prove herself.

During the Asian Fusion Challenge, Ben was paired with Lacey on the seafood dish. Their teamwork was rough as Lacey thought that his instructions were annoying. They served a pan seared scallops with a sea urchin and caviar berblanc sauce, but it was deemed too salty and they lost the seafood round. The blue team lost the challenge 1-2, and was forced to make fortune cookies and fold origami for the next service. During the punishment, he gave Lacey a pep talk, urged her to have some more motivation to do well, and that the blue team needed her, though Lacey thought he was lying to her. 

During dinner service, Ben was on the garnish station with Lacey. He went unnoticed during that service, which both teams lost. Giovanni was named "Best of the Worst" for the blue team.

He was not nominated for elimination.

Episode 6Edit

Ben was very happy when he learned that their next service would be a Bar Mitzvah party, since he was of Jewish faith, and even gave a little summary of what a Bar Mitzvah is. During the Bar Mitzvah Planning Challenge, he presented the blue team's brisket, which was a classic take on a brisket, but lost to the red team. Despite that, his team won the challenge 2-1 and were rewarded with a spa day at the Skin Haven spa. During the reward, he told Lacey that she really deserved the reward based on Ramsay’s comments on her improvements.

During the Bar Mitzvah dinner service, Ben was on the fish station. He was not seen much, but admitted he was a little jealous when he saw the red team participate in the horah dance as part of their punishment, as it seemed fun. The blue team won the service.

Episode 7Edit

Before the Tapas Leftovers Challenge, Ben and the blue team said goodbye to Giovanni, who has just been transferred to the red team. During the challenge, he made a grilled tuna with fennel prawns sauce, which was deemed delicious, but lost to Giovanni's dish. His team lost the challenge 2-3, and had to prep both kitchens for that night's service and polish tapa plates. During the punishment, he talked Lacey back in the kitchen after she made quitting threats, saying the team needed her.

During dinner service, Ben was on the meat station. He was slow on the station, sent up a cold Wellington, and was told by Ramsay to cook them in the convection oven so he would not keep opening the oven. When he was caught using a dirty tray for his Wellingtons, Ramsay pulled him in the pantry room, called him a dirty pig, and threatened him to follow J, who has already been eliminated earlier that service. The blue team lost, and each member was asked to nominate one teammate for elimination.

Ben nominated Lacey, and received no votes. However, Ramsay called him down instead of Robert, and asked him why he did not nominate himself, before admitting that, apart from the already eliminated J, he had the worst performance from the blue team. After Ramsay told him he really wanted his jacket, he survived elimination as Ramsay gave him one last chance.

Episode 8Edit

During the Blind Taste Test, Ben was the first person of his team to compete. He gave one of the best overall individual performances by scoring 3 points out of 4, only missing filet mignon. However, the blue team lost 7-8, and was forced to serve lunch to the red team and prep both kitchens for that night’s dinner service. Despite knowing they were all down from their loss, he told the blue team that they had to get their acts together if they wanted to win that night’s service. When he served the red team some champagne, a light flash shocked him and caused him to spill it on the table.

During dinner service, Ben was on the garnish station. At one point, Ramsay called him to help Robert on the appetizer station, and they were able to send dishes out. When Lacey was struggling on the meat station, he went over to try and help, but burned his finger on a hot pan. When Lacey got eliminated mid-service and came back in the kitchen to give her farewells, he and his teammates were unresponsive as they were happy to see her go. After she left, the rest of the team caught up on lost time, and demonstrated the best teamwork since the beginning of the season. The blue team won the service by a mile over the red team.

Episode 9Edit

During the King Crab Challenge, Ben convinced his teammates to use his dish as the representative. He made a crab in sriracha butter, but his very long explanation of it annoyed everybody. Ramsay was not impressed by the minimalist presentation, and while the crab tasted better than Andrea's, it did not meet the wow factor Ramsay was hoping for. Despite that, he clinched the victory for the blue team, and they were rewarded with a day trip to Santa Monica State Beach with Ramsay for lunch and a Segway ride.

Before dinner service, each team was asked to create their own menus. During the menu designing, Ben annoyed Danny and Robert with his "pomme fondant" dish, which the two others had never heard about before. During dinner service, he was on the appetizer station with Danny, and on the garnish station. His first poor action was over-reducing his soup with salt, which made it disgusting. Then, his "pomme fondant" dish was shown to be blanched instead of being cooked in butter, like Ramsay and Sous Chef Scott said it should. He was later accused twice for trying to sabotage Robert when he sliced the filets poorly and when he tried to rush Robert on the desserts. The blue team lost the dinner service as only 39% of their customers rated their entrées above average, compared to the red team's 54%. Danny was named "Best of the Worst".

Ben was Danny's nominee for elimination, and was eventually joined by Robert. He survived elimination as Ramsay decided to eliminate Carol from the winning team.

Episode 10Edit

The next morning, before Ramsay announced the challenge, Ben was called down by him after Danny named him the worst cook on the blue team, and joined Andrea from the red team. Instead of being eliminated, he received a black jacket, along with everybody else.

During the 14 Ingredients Challenge, Ben made a stuffed chicken breast, which was deemed delicious. He also was the only one to use the drumstick from the chicken, although he annoyed everyone once again with his long description. He won the challenge and was rewarded with a trip in a private jet to San Francisco with Ramsay. When Ramsay allowed him to take another contestant with him, he took Robert. The three of them took a private trolley tour around San Francisco, and ate lunch at the One Market restaurant at the chefs table. When he returned back to Hell's Kitchen, he annoyed everyone with his description of the trip.

Before dinner service, Ramsay announced to Ben that his challenge-winning dish would be featured on the menu. During dinner service, he was on the appetizer station with Paula. After Giovanni screwed up his dish multiple times, Ramsay reassigned him to the meat station to help out. Soon after, he was caught slicing one of his cooked chickens up, even though Ramsay warned him that it would make the chicken dry. He promised Ramsay to not do it again. After service was shut down, Paula was named "Best of the Worst".

Ben was not nominated, and after elimination, Ramsay announced he was shutting down Hell's Kitchen. Then, the episode ended in a cliffhanger.

Episode 11Edit

Continuing from the previous episode, Ramsay announced the final five they would travel to the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, in Atlantic City, to visit their potential future employment. During dinner with Borgata's Vice-President of Cuisine Nicholas Kurban and Executive Chef Ron Ross, Ben received a phone call from Robert, who was transported a few minutes earlier to the hospital. He told Robert that the four of them were really worried about him, and told him to get better. When the remaining four chefs came back to Hell's Kitchen, they got visit from Robert who told them he would not come back to Hell's Kitchen. Ben was extremely upset and seemed as if he was about to cry due to his close friendship with Robert.

During the Borgata Signature Dish Challenge, Ben made a pan roasted tiger prawns with mango scented turnips and basil crushed Yukon gold potatoes, which Ramsay stated looked prettier than him, but was criticized for only using the prawn tails instead of the whole prawn. He lost the challenge to Andrea, and he and Danny vented on how she should not have won due to having not all of her dishes cooked properly.

During dinner service, Ben was on the garnish station. He could not remember what was recently called out for entrées, and needed Paula's help. Then, he proved to be unresponsive and sent up cold carrot purée, but managed to heat it up quickly. Despite that, Ramsay lectured him on his attitude and threatened him with elimination if he would send anymore cold food. Later on, he forgot another order, which caused an annoyed Ramsay to remind him what was next and notice his station was in disarray. Ramsay told him he was so full of shit he did not even know he was shit, while chewing him out for giving excuses. So, Ramsay kicked him out of the kitchen, but he decided to pull himself together and fight back. Afterwards, he managed to bounce back from his poor start.

After service, Ramsay asked the team to nominate two people, apart from Andrea. During deliberation, Ben made it clear to Andrea that because of her poor performance, if she was not immune, she would definitely would have been nominated, which Danny agreed.

Ben was the first nominee for elimination, with Paula being the second. After Andrea was called down by Ramsay, he survived elimination as Ramsay claimed his performance was not as bad as hers.

Episode 12Edit

Before heading back upstairs, Ramsay told Ben to prove that he made the right decision by not eliminating him. Back in the dorms, he admitted to the other chefs that the comments Ramsay said to him were demoralizing, but Danny and him knew that Andrea was on her last chance as well.

During the Taste It Now Make It Challenge, Ben used halibut, sea scallops, fish stock, and peradone to recreate Ramsay's Italian Fish Stew. During the challenge, he tried to hide the peradone from the other chefs, but Ramsay caught him and called him a selfish bastard. While he was the only chef to use the peradone as for his alcohol, he was ruled out when Ramsay found that he used too much saffron on his dish. He lost the challenge to Danny, and was forced to work with Jean-Philippe in polishing the crystal ware, shampooing the carpets, and prepping for that night’s service. During the punishment, Andrea's negativity rubbed him the wrong way, and snapped at him when he suggested a way to speed up prep time.

During dinner service, Ben was on the appetizer station. Despite getting the first ticket order mixed up, he was able to send out the first few tables without any problems. Then, he was caught dropping spaghetti into a pot that was not boiling, leading Ramsay to believe he was trying to get ahead and panicking. After, he sent over a bland risotto and Ramsay accused him of switching off. Despite acknowledging about a vegetarian salad later on, he failed to put croutons into it, but managed to make a successful one shortly after.

After service, the team was asked to nominate one person. At elimination, the team revealed they did not came to a consensus and were stuck between two people. Ben was one of them, along with Andrea. He was eliminated for his downward spiral, but received praised from Ramsay about his energy, effort, and attitude. During his exit interview, he received a retrospective montage of his run. Ramsay gave no comment on Ben's elimination, and he did not receive the coat hanging and burning picture sequence until the beginning of the next episode.

Episode 14/15Edit

Ben was one of the six contestants who returned for the final dinner service. When he came back into the kitchen, Ramsay reminded him of his poor performance on the meat station during the seventh service. He was Danny's first pick, followed by Giovanni and Carol, and the first pick overall.

Back in the dorms, Ben was the only member of Danny's team that wanted him to win, as Carol was secretly rooting for Paula, and Giovanni did not care. During prep, he overheard Danny's restaurant name called "Velvet Hammer", and compared it to a porn title.

During dinner service, Ben was on the garnish station. On the first order of entrées, he was slow on the baked potatoes and needed three more minutes on them, much to Ramsay's dismay. Despite that, he managed to get the potatoes up to the pass on time, and allowed Danny to send up the first order of entrées out. Danny eventually won the finals over Paula.

Nomination historyEdit

Week 1 Safe
Week 2 Win
Week 3 Safe
Week 4 Nominated
Week 5 Safe
Week 6 Win
Week 7 Nominated
Week 8 Win
Week 9 Nominated
Week 10 Safe
Week 11 Nominated
Week 12 Nominated

Season 9 Edit

Episode 13Edit

Ben returned for competing with 5 chefs in black jacket, along with other returning chefs, Tennille, Van (Both are from Season 6), Jillian and Trev (Both are from Season 8).

Season 17 Edit

Episode 1/2Edit

Ben was the thirteenth All-Star chef that returned back to Hell's Kitchen, and when he returned, he reunited with Giovanni.

During the Signature Dish Challenge, Ben received chicken as his main protein, and during the cooking, he revealed his plan for a stuffed chicken breast, and admitted that he wanted to take a calmer approach compared to his gung-ho approach from Season 5. He was the second person from the blue team to have his dish judged by Ramsay, went up against Barbie, and presented his coconut rice stuffed chicken breast. It was criticized for having two bland components put together, and he scored 2 points. The blue team eventually won the challenge 28-27, and they were rewarded with with a trip to the sky slide in downtown Los Angeles, and dinner at Wolfgang Puck’s WP24 restaurant with Ramsay. During the reward, he took his turn after some urging from Van and Marino.

During the Bar Menu Challenge, Ben admitted that he was not a big fan of redemption, but hoped that Ramsay would love his chicken compared to the previous challenge. He lost the challenge as his dish was not in the top four of the blue team.

Back at the dorms, Manda noticed that Ben’s color was off, and asked him if he was okay. He said that he was about to check his sugar levels, and revealed to everybody that he was recently diagnosed with diabetes, before heading off. He admitted that it sucked that he was not as healthy as he was last time, but decided that he was going to give that night 100%, and did not want to make a spectacle by falling over. With 30 minutes left until service began, he continued to wonder if he could make through that night, and met up with the medic for a diagnosis as he was getting dizzy. After, he said that despite being young and healthy back in Season 5, life has been rough for him, he has gotten older and fatter, and called his diabetes terrible. After debating whether or not he should tap out, he still wanted to perform at the opening night. Before service began, the blue team urged him to speak up if he did not feel well.

During dinner service, Ben was on the fish station with Jared. He only wanted to give everything he had that night, but clocked out on Nick’s communication for times. Then, his salmon was raw, Ramsay frustratingly smashed it after ranting it was ice cold, and was reminded to cook it longer as it was a thick piece. He felt that he screwed up as he was the one that told Jared to walk the salmon, and while they were working on the refire, Ramsay was forced to send out an incomplete table. Then, he felt dizzy again, and nearly collapsed until Jared caught him, but despite that, his refire was accepted. The blue team eventually won the service.

Despite being on the winning team, Ben was eliminated as Ramsay felt that his health problems would hinder him in the long run. During his exit interview, he admitted that he knew how difficult that season would be, had no regrets getting eliminated, and believed Ramsay made the right decision.

Ramsay's comment: "Big Ben? More like big liability. He clearly wasn't going to be able to keep up, so I had to let him down."

Nomination historyEdit

Week 1 Eliminated

Trivia Edit

Season 5Edit

  • After his first appearance on the show, he became a celebrity chef and was a host on a TV show called "The Big Ten Cookout" on September 2009. Later, he opened a restaurant with fellow contestant Paula, called "1500 Degrees", and served as the Executive Sous Chef there.

Season 17Edit

  • He is the second contestant to be eliminated on the opening night who did not score a 1 out of 5 in the new format of the Signature Dish Challenge after Pat from Season 16.
  • He is the eighth contestant to be eliminated despite being on the winning team, following Carol (Season 5), Salvatore (Season 7), Raj (Season 8), Jeremy (Season 11), Randy (Season 14), Joe (Season 15), and Gia (Season 16).
  • He is the second contestant to be eliminated in an unusual way during the opening episode, following Louie (Season 6), as well at the first to be so at the first elimination of the season.
  • After his second appearance on the show, he returned to his role as Chef de Cuisine at Ameristar Casino in Kansas City.

Quotes Edit

Season 5Edit

  • "It was my mistake for not exactly knowing Chef Ramsay's terminologies, but fuck me if the words "pick" and "up" don't mean: "Give you the desserts"."
  • (To Danny) "You want to hear something, dude? I will cook circles around you! I will circle you like a fucking moon! Are you joking me? You couldn't cook my cock!"
  • "There's really nothing that I can do to please Chef Ramsay, and I'm slowly but surely being able to accept that."

Season 17Edit