We caught up with Hell’s Kitchen Season 7 cast member Jamie Bisioulis to discuss her experience on the show and what was going through her head when she decided that toothpicks would be a good addition to Chicken Kiev.
I’ve known Jamie since we were Juniors in high school, almost 13 years now, and while she couldn’t cook a frozen pizza back then, a lot has changed as she now makes a living in the food industry. So with Hell’s Kitchen Season 7 Uncut hitting store shelves a couple weeks ago I decided it would be a good time for her to relive the experience.
antifoodie: Hey Jamie! Thanks for taking a few minutes to answer some questions for us. Season 7 of Hell’s Kitchen hit DVD just last Tuesday and personally it is still my favorite season of the bunch, but mainly just the first few episodes because you’re on it. I feel like I’ve known you forever… which is probably because we have known each other for almost 13 years.
Jamie: Has it been 13 years already? Wow we are old. Without sounding biased, this season was the best season so far—especially on the uncut DVD, if you pick it up I know you would agree with me. Someone’s hair caught on fire, a few more f-bombs were dropped and more one-liners from yours truly.
antifoodie: Oh the Jamie Bisioulis one liners… good stuff. I remember when you announced at a softball game that you were selected to be on the show, I think we lost the game, but it was still exciting. It’s hard to believe that it was 4 years ago now.
Jamie: I hope that wasn’t the game that I superman slid into 2nd base after one too many jagerbombs.
antifoodie: I don’t remember everything surrounding the game, but I know we lost… Ok, enough with the banter, lets get to the question everyone wants answered, are toothpicks tasty? In the very first episode you were told by Chef Ramsay to prepare your signature dish for him to taste, you chose homemade chicken kiev with a little pinch of toothpick and rudely Chef Ramsay wouldn’t even taste it. Have you made chicken kiev before? Was it just the nerves of being the first day that got to you?
Jamie: Have I made Chicken Kiev before? Are you kidding me [antifoodie]? My mom taught me how to cook that. I practiced that dish 56 times in my kitchen at home before HK7. My mom always did it with toothpicks (I now make it without, just a double dose of coating seals the dish). Let me walk you through this terrifying experience. After several takes of walking through the hallway as a group (first 10 minutes of arriving to HK set), we were guided to a room that was behind curtains. Once the curtains opened, there were literally 100 people with cameras, shooting away. It’s a good thing I don’t have epilepsy.
After taking a vow of being the first cast ever to finish our first dinner service, it was time to cook the signature dish. I knew it would be one of the three dishes I submitted and was secretly hoping for my red wine duck risotto with wild mushrooms, but no dice. So now I have to search through the boondocks to find my signature dish ingredients—where’s the chicken breasts? Where’s the cream cheese? It took me about 15 minutes to find all my ingredients (keep in mind you only have 45 minutes total). I got everything together in 5 minutes or so, but unfortunately it takes about 30 minutes to properly cook this thing. My backup plan was to throw it in the deep fryer, but Nilka had about 30 lbs of chicken wings in it so that plan was a no go. Bottom line, my chicken was undercooked in the middle, and since I didn’t want to serve chicken sashimi, I opted to cut the kiev and serve the cooked pieces. It looked like a hot mess and I knew it. And right before they put the dome lid on my plate, I saw it. It was staring right at me , taunting me…the toothpick. Once I got up there, I knew what was going to happen. I was lucky I wasn’t kicked out the first night.
antifoodie: Is Chef Ramsay that intimidating? From what I’ve heard from other people, he’s just a really good actor and is actually a really nice guy once the cameras aren’t rolling. Was that your experience with him? At the beginning of the first episode were you secretly hoping that the next person he would grab and kiss would be you?
Jamie: Is the pope catholic? I tried putting up a tough front around him, but I was scared shitless. Truth is, he is a totally considerate and funny when you aren’t on his shit list. I never got to know him when the cameras weren’t rolling, since they were rolling 24/7. When you screw up in front of him, he calls you out in the most humiliating, terrifying kind of way. Hearing him say your name makes your gag reflex kick in. Oh, and I would still make out with him. Power is sexy.
antifoodie: So the first episode seemed a little intimidating for you, but on the 2nd episode you absolutely killed the egg cooking challenge. So when are you going to cook me eggs?
Jamie: When are you going to build me my own cooking database website? Eggs are easy to do, it’s back to basics… I loved that challenge. I still have those pajama pants I wore when collecting eggs. There is a huge yolk stain on them. I swear it’s a yolk stain…
antifoodie: Even though you dominated the egg challenge you couldn’t seem to get things going right in the kitchen for dinner service. Which resulted in your being up for elimination that night. Thankfully you didn’t have to hang up your jacket, but that must have hurt your confidence going forward? I don’t know that I could get up there and give Chef Ramsay any good reason why I should be there after being nominated, no matter what the reason.
Jamie: Once you’re nominated, you feel emotionally raped. What you didn’t see on the show was that I was a workhorse that helped everyone out. I would quiz everyone on the ingredients of the dishes until they knew it, I would prep more stuff than a lot of people. But… It is what it is, and I hold no grudge… Oh f- it, Autumn was being her bitchy drama queen-self, and threw me under the bus. I must have smoked 10 cigarettes in a row after that night.
antifoodie: In episode 3 you guys finally won a challenge and got to head out to the beach for the day, how was that? I’ve never known you to play soccer, did you try to petition for softball instead?
Jamie: Did you see me play soccer? It’s like watching a Canadian drink Guinness. Never going to happen. I usually enjoy activities where balls fly at my face, but not this one. If it was a softball game on the other hand, I could’ve lasted a few more episodes.
antifoodie: So after a day of playing at the beach you now had to come back and do dinner service. We were all hoping that the little break would have eased your nerves, but it still seemed like you were just a bit flustered on the garnish station which ultimately lead to your elimination that night. You’ve never personally cooked for me (which I’m still bitter about), but everyone we know says you’re a great cook, what happened? Was it just the pressure, or nerves that ended up beating you?
Jamie: Dude. The garnish station bites the big one. It’s not just reheating mashed potatoes. You have to build the side dishes (i.e. saute the shallots with chorizo fat, add white wine, deglaze with chicken stock, add the white beans, fresh herbs, etc). When you are on track, and your teammates mess up a protein, you have to start over, it sucks. And I think 15 minutes of sleep that night got the best of me. I usually have no feelings, but man… I felt defeated; which is why I probably got sent home.
antifoodie: Despite the elimination we were all glad to see you hold your head high and not bitch at Chef Ramsay or throw a tantrum. He did say that you had passion, so that’s good. Has your life changed much since the airing of the show? What are you doing these days? Still cooking we hope… (I already know the answer to this since I know you, but our readers probably don’t).
Jamie: Ha! Me throw a tantrum? Never… When the show was airing, about 15 people actually recognized me off the street, which made my day. I took a small leave of absence from the company I work for and when I came back, they welcomed me with warm arms. Like you said, it’s been 4 years since the show, and I have grown quite a bit in the same company. I am now an Executive Chef/General Manager. I also work on opening new accounts, and handle the food marketing for my division. So I would say I’m doing pretty well.
antifoodie: We’re glad to hear that. Now I know you were only on the show for a couple days, but did Holli seem like she was going to stand out amongst the group right from the start? Do you still keep in contact with any of the other contestants?
Jamie: I was actually there for 3 weeks, can you believe it? Holli and I got along pretty well, but I never thought she was going to be the one that went all the way. I keep in contact with a lot of my castmates. Fran and I talk almost every week and just saw Blue Jay in Vegas in May. I don’t think anyone has talked to Autumn, Andrew or Mikey, but the others and I stay in contact via Facebook or email.
antifoodie: Overall how was your experience on the show? I’m sure you can’t answer production questions, but were you really stuck in those dorms for the entire filming without being able to leave? Did filming take up most of the day as it is or did you have a lot of down time?
Jamie: I swear- I had a blast. Before our first day of HK, we were locked in hotel rooms, and lead to a green screen (without seeing any other castmates) where we filmed the opening sequence. That’s the only time we had to act. I had to pretend to cook, without any props against a green screen. You saw it, I can’t act at all. Once we were on set, the camera was rolling all the time. There are 72 security cameras set up in every nook and cranny. It actually filmed me grabbing a pillow and considering suffocating one of my team mates because they snored so loud. Good thing that was cut.
antifoodie: And finally, what advice would you give to anyone who wants to be a contestant on Hell’s Kitchen, or maybe those that are going to be on future seasons?
Jamie: 1. Even if you suck at cooking, being dramatic will drive ratings, which ultimately leads to you staying on longer. Yeah, you look like a complete douche on TV, but if you want to be that guy, go ahead. 2. Be aware of your surroundings. This is a reality TV show. People and production are cut throat. Check the equipment and make sure everything is in place before dinner, even if you checked it 15 minutes prior, trust me. 3. Have fun, and forget the cameras are there.
antifoodie: Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions for us and hopefully you’ll cook something other than a frozen pizza for me… like in high school.
Jamie: Oh memories. Well, since you are a married guy now, maybe I should give the Mrs. a few cooking lessons….
antifoodie: Sounds good to me! Thanks Jamie.
Catch Jamie and the rest of the cast on the Hell’s Kitchen Season 7 Uncut DVD which was released on June 4th.