The Truth About Adam Pawlak From Hell's Kitchen Season 19

Season 19 – yes, 19 already! – of Hell's Kitchen is now on the air, bringing with it a hefty dose of pre-pandemic nostalgia since this first season to be filmed in Las Vegas documents a competition that actually took place in 2019. Adam Pawlak, the Milwaukee chef who was one of the 18 contestants (via Gold Derby) aspiring to earn a job working at the Lake Tahoe Hell's Kitchen restaurant, told Milwaukee that the hardest part of being on the show was having to wait a year and a half to talk about it. "The overall experience was amazing – it taught me so much," he shared with his hometown magazine, adding "I can't wait to finally share it with friends and family."

Pawlak, who is a member of the Blue Team, is instantly recognizable. He's the one that Ramsay calls "ZZ Top" due to his long, scraggly beard (via Las Vegas Review-Journal). Yes, in a tradition begun by the first Hell's Kitchen winner, Michael Wray, it seems as if every new crop of chefs has got to have a tattooed, bearded hipster dude, and Pawlak is definitely this season's dude.

Pawlak didn't find his time in the kitchen too hellish

As entertainment website Fansided speculated based on a few of the show's trailers, it seems as if Season 19 is when we finally get to see a softer side of Ramsay. While Gordon Ramsay does his best to come across as the head devil on Hell's Kitchen, it seems as if all along he's been having us on and he's really not such a bad guy off-camera, Pawlak confirms this different view of Ramsay, telling the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, "He's actually really laid-back and literally wants the best for anyone who's on there" and describing Ramsay to Milwaukee magazine as "the nicest guy ever."

So what's Pawlak's secret to getting along with Ramsay, then, and avoiding the dreaded insults? It's simple, he says: "Just cook his food the way he wants it to be cooked." As to why some other Hell's Kitchen chefs may have had a less positive experience with the boss, Pawlak thinks he knows why. "The reason people mess up on that show," he says, "is the old classic line, 'There's too many chefs in the kitchen.'" He admitted, however, that being on the show taught him a lot he didn't know about as he called it, "running a brigade."

Pawlak's been pretty busy after his season in hell

Pawlak didn't immediately put into use what he learned about operating on such a large scale, though he did get right back into the restaurant scene. Just 5 days after filming wrapped up, according to the Journal-Sentinel, he opened a pasta bar called Egg & Flour, located in a food hall on Milwaukee's trendy Lower East Side. His mini restaurant empire quickly expanded over the next year or so as he added a pizzeria to the food hall and opened another pasta bar in the oh-so-hipstery Bayview neighborhood.

So is Pawlak soon to be abandoning Brew City for Lake Tahoe? That we can't say, and neither can he, since the results of Season 19's competition are still top secret. Whether Milwaukee will be losing a top chef but gaining bragging rights as the hometown of a Hell's Kitchen winner remains to be seen, so we'll all have to tune in to find out. (The whole city's rooting for him, though, since their best-known celebs to date are a serial killer and Screech from Saved by the Bell.)  Oh, and should you happen to be in the area, Pawlak would like you to know that you're welcome to drop by Egg & Flour Bayview to watch. According to his Instagram, the show will be airing on the restaurant's TV on both Thursday and Saturday nights – and of course, there'll be plenty of noodly goodness to scarf down as you watch!