Hell's Kitchen Contestant Alex Najar Says The Show Is Nothing Like What You See On TV - Exclusive

Dedicated fans of FOX's hit show "Hell's Kitchen" know what they're in for when they tune in to a new episode. At 21 seasons and counting, the competition show helmed by Gordon Ramsay is infamous for its intensity. There's a whole lot of drama, a whole lot of cooking under pressure, and a whole lot of Gordon Ramsay yelling in the kitchen. 

But on the other side of the camera, it's quite a different story for the people competing on "Hell's Kitchen." Sure, the pressure is on and there's a career-defining reward on the line, but if you ask a contestant, they'll say there's a lot more to the show than fans get to see. And that's exactly what we did, in an exclusive interview with season 21 competitor, Alex Najar. 

His season, titled "Battle of the Ages," features a group of 20-something and 40-something chefs, cooking their way to a huge cash prize and the chance to be head chef at a Gordon Ramsay restaurant. Najar, who is in the 20-something set, opened up to Mashed about what goes on when the cameras aren't rolling on "Hell's Kitchen."

Hell's Kitchen doesn't capture the real dynamic between all the contestants

It's no secret that competing on "Hell's Kitchen" offers the chance to walk away with street cred, glory, and a nice chunk of change. While the cameras might make it seem like everyone is solely focused on crushing the competition, Najar told Mashed the truth is that "everybody's so much different off camera than on camera." And while he understands that the producers "want to make it super entertaining," he says there are so many moments the public doesn't get to see.

He explains, "I lived with those people for a month and ... there were some conversations or cooking things that didn't get captured." He adds that "[the producers are] more focused on the drama, the cooking, and stuff like that. They don't capture conversations that we have in the dorm that are wacky, off the wall, or during dinner service." 

In his view, the show is "a totally different experience" than what people would expect from watching it at home. But according to Najar, it turned out to be better. "I didn't go in expecting to meet and make so many great friends, and I'm super grateful for that. That's the icing on the cake, for sure."

It's not always as intense as it appears on the set of Hell's Kitchen

While contestant Alex Najar would agree that every season paints a picture of non-stop competitiveness among the chefs, he says in reality that's not the case. He says, "When it was time to start cooking, competition mode was turned on for everybody ... If it was "a team challenge, we're working as a team for this one. If it was individual, I'm on my own by myself, ready to do what I got to do." But when the aprons were hung up, Najar says, "in the dorms, we were relaxed, we had whatever amount of time we had to sit down and talk about it, get to learn about each other."

Najar also points out that collaboration and building relationships with the other contestants are also crucial to succeeding in the competition. Najar says that's especially true during dinner service, which is the ultimate test in "Hell's Kitchen." As he puts it, "If you don't work as a team, you're screwing yourself, and that's when it really separates ... the super competitive people and the people that are trying to stay afloat."

Catch new episodes of "Hell's Kitchen: Battle of the Ages" every Thursday at 8/7 CT on FOX, or stream episodes on Hulu.