Vanessa Gunnell was a contestant on Season 4 of Hell's Kitchen. She ranked in 11th place.
Vanessa was very emotional, especially when she knew she did a horrible performance. On the fourth episode, she sustained an injury, and started to lose confidence because of it, leading her to quit the competition.
Season 4 Edit
During the Signature Dish Challenge, Vanessa was the fourteenth contestant to have her dish judged by Ramsay. Her pan-seared halibut was deemed the best dish by a mile so far, and Ramsay thanked her for that. Because of that, she was eventually chosen by her team to be the captain for the first service.
During prep, Vanessa was not as loud as she should for a captain, and her leadership abilities were questioned by Corey.
During dinner service, Vanessa was on the garnish station. After Sharon brought an unacceptable risotto to the pass, she was told to wake up by Ramsay, but she said she could not do anything at the moment, despite being the captain. Eventually, when Jen sent unacceptable quail eggs to the pass, she was asked to give her captain's title to Rosann. She acknowledged that she sucked as a captain, and when she corrected Rosann, who was calling out an order, the latter asked her if she was mad at her, but she told Rosann she was not. After a lot of customers walked out, Ramsay shut down the kitchens. When the teams were lined up, he compared her performance like having a mouse on service, but despite that, the red team won the dinner service.
The next morning, the Sous Chefs woke up all the contestants while holding megaphones, and told them to get outside immediately. Arrived outside, they went through the garbage bags from the previous service to select every food from them, and sort them in big cylinders. When they got back in the kitchen, Ramsay introduced the 6 Ounce Halibut Challenge. During the judging, the score was tied at 41, and the red team lost in a tiebreaker. They were punished by prepping halibut for the next dinner service.
During dinner service, Vanessa was on the garnish station once again, but was not noticed at all during that service as her team failed to get passed entrées. The red team lost the dinner service, and Corey was named "Best of the Worst". During deliberation, Christina ruled her out when discussing who could be nominated by Corey.
Vanessa was, indeed, not nominated for elimination.
The next morning, after a wake up call where each contestant had to grab a chicken and Ramsay making them falsely believe they would have to kill them, he introduced the Chicken Cutting Challenge. Vanessa was relieved she did not have to kill it herself. During the challenge, she scored a perfect 8 pieces out of 8, and was one of four women who did. Because of their strong performance, the red team won the challenge 44-24, and were rewarded with a lunch at the Saddle Ranch Chop House, on the Sunset Strip, in Los Angeles. During the reward, they accidentally bumped into Season 3 contestant Aaron, which she acknowledged it was nice to meet him as he was a big teddy bear.
During dinner service, Vanessa was on the meat station. When she brought her first entrée to the pass, it turned out raw, making her very emotional and ashamed about her performance. Ramsay told her whole team to get on the meat station to help her. Later, she caused a minor fire on meat, which Corey and Rosann tried to blow off, before Ramsay came and blew it off himself. After Ramsay said she was all over the place, he named both teams losers, and for the red team, Christina was named "Best of the Worst". Back in the dorms, she was very emotional and ashamed of her performance, saying this was the only she knew how to do, and did not knew if she was knowing how to do it anymore, and Christina tried to comfort her.
On her way back to the dorms, Vanessa was still ashamed and feeling the failure, being very emotional, and was comforted by her team. She declared she cannot fail again as that was all she knew what to do. A few moments later, Ramsay called all the contestants in the microphone, and ordered them to get downstairs to clean their kitchens.
The red team won the Pasta Making Challenge, as they managed to get 6.57 lbs of acceptable pasta, compared to the blue team's 5.48 lbs. They were rewarded with a day at an amusement park, in Santa Monica Beach, and they were transported there in Hummer limousines. While leaving, Vanessa declared she was excited to drive in a Hummer limousine as she never did before, even in a regular limousine.
During Family Night dinner service, Vanessa was on the appetizer station. When the first ticket was called out, she was determined to have a good service, saying that she did not have to fail again after her disastrous performance during the previous service. So, she quickly took vocal control of the red kitchen. The first chowder she sent to the pass was deemed beautiful by Ramsay, who told that they had the momentum and that they must not lose it. She managed to get half of her appetizers in 45 minutes, but when the team moved on to entrée, Shayna erupted a fire on the appetizer station, which Vanessa tried to take off. But in the process, some oil dropped on her hand, and she sustained a second-degree burn. She asked Ramsay for some ice, and ran to the back store to see a medic, who applied some heeling cream over her hand. But because she was still in great pain, she went to the hospital, transported by SUV.
Vanessa came back after service, told the other chefs she would see a medical surgeon on next Monday, and Christina told her the news that her team won the dinner service. At elimination, she was welcomed back by Ramsay.
Back in the dorms, Vanessa was asked by Bobby what was going on with her hand, and she revealed she had to see a plastic surgeon, worried that it might take her chances of winning the competition away. The next morning, all the chefs were getting ready for the next challenge, but she, because of her injury, could not do anything on her own, frustrating her. So, Shayna helped her combing her hair, understanding her frustration as she did not want to let the team down, and she said she was feeling like a jackass.
When both teams were lined up in the dining room, Ramsay asked Vanessa how she was feeling with her burn, which she answered she was fine. After that, he introduced the Fine Dining Pizza Challenge, and during the challenge, she said that as long as she was in the kitchen, she would try to do something. When the team agreed to choose Jen's pizza to be judged, Vanessa was disappointed, becoming emotional. Jen's pizza won over Ben's and clinched the victory for the red team, and they were rewarded with a lunch at the restaurant Square One, home to the $90 burger, in Santa Barbara, with Ramsay, and were transported there by a helicopter. During the helicopter ride, she told the view of California was amazing.
The next day, during prep for dinner service, Vanessa struggled a lot because of her injury, feeling useless, and went to Ramsay's office to talk about the problem with him. She told him her injury was painful and the fact she was not able to work the way she was used to anymore was killing her. So, Ramsay gave her the decision to leave or to stay in the competition. After some deliberation, where she said she was not a quitter or weak, she decided to withdraw from the competition as she did not want to be there if she was not able to be at 100%. Ramsay told it was a shame, but respected her decision, before asking her to pack her stuff and leave Hell's Kitchen, and wishing her luck. Before she left, she said goodbye to her team, hugging them, and packed her bags, before leaving by the front door. She received the coat hanging and burning picture sequence at the end of the episode.
Ramsay's comment: "It's unfortunate that Vanessa's burn took her out of the competition. We'll never, ever know if she really had what it takes to win Hell's Kitchen."
- She is the first contestant to withdraw from the competition because of an injury.
- After her appearance on the show, she returned working at the restaurant she was working before entering the show, and her hand healed, but also scarred.
- "I sucked as a captain, and it was pretty bad."
- (After her departure:) "I don't consider myself a failure, Hell's Kitchen is an immersion and fire, and it's too much for me."