Former Mercato chef Christina Wilson joins a long line of Philly chefs who make the cut on reality cooking shows. We caught up with her to talk “Hell’s Kitchen.”
What’s been the biggest challenge?
Just trying to stay focused. The Red team is getting a little cranky, trying to meet the standards while dealing with office turmoil. It’s been tough. The biggest thing is ignoring the noise and staying focused on why I’m here.
Are you a celebrity now? Do you get recognized on the street?
A little bit in Philly, but not really. I’m not out and about, but it did happen twice at a bar. I was with Justin [Antiorio] and Dana [Cohen]. We got recognized, it was weird. It’s the only job interview in the world, outside of politics, that you will get recognized. Everyone is watching you on this job interview.
What would it mean to win the whole thing?
Wow, to get my dream job in Vegas, working for the most well-respected chefs in the world, amazing. The little bit I’ve learned already is unreal. To possibly win, to be out there [in Vegas], with that starting salary, and your career is only going to go up from there. It would be a great platform to jump into a new chapter of my career.
What does this mean or do for the Philly restaurant scene?
Philly has done a good job of getting themselves on the map for a number of years. People like Jen Carroll and Jose Garces — Philly is getting a little more respect, doing well in these cooking shows.
Any advice for young chefs?
Keep your head down, mouth shut, eyes open and keep pushing. I didn’t go to culinary school, I learned everything on my own. And don’t bring your ego into the kitchen. Once those doors open, anything goes.