The Truth About Declan Horgan From Hell's Kitchen Season 19

All of the contestants on Hell's Kitchen season 19 are ready to do their level best to impress Gordon Ramsay and, one would assume, to avoid the famous wrath he unleashes upon those who come up with the worst dishes to ever feature on the show. This year, the pool of talent scrambling its way toward the top is deep and arguably more skilled than ever — and Declan Horgan definitely belongs in the "cream of the crop" category. Simply looking at the way he works, it's immediately apparent to the viewer that this is a man who knows his way around the kitchen. 

But who is this clearly talented chef, and is he good enough to win the whole Las Vegas season and become the head chef in Ramsay's newest Hell's Kitchen establishment in Lake Tahoe, NV? Let's take a look at the well-rounded Declan Horgan from Hell's Kitchen season 19.

Declan Horgan knows his way around a Michelin kitchen

You shouldn't be surprised that chef Declan Horgan is able to deliver a top performance in a high-pressure kitchen with cameras and the multiple-Michelin-star-winning Ramsay looming over him. After all, one glance at his website reveals that Horgan is a rock-solid professional who graduated from DIT School of Culinary Arts and Food Technology in 1998, and the very next year started working in Dublin's Michelin-starred Peacock Alley. 

Since then, Horgan has held positions ranging from sous chef to executive head chef in top establishments from high-end casual dining haunts to multiple Michelin restaurants and luxury hotels. What's more, he also offers private cooking classes, has written several cookbooks, and has even found the time to appear on multiple episodes of the Food Network's Guy's Grocery Games. Phew!

If you leaf through his résumé, it becomes apparent that Horgan excels in his native Irish cuisine, which combined with his expertise in French cuisine should enable him to deliver everything from rustic, meaty delicacies to refined haute cuisine, drawing from different parts of his skill tree depending on what the day demands. Perhaps fittingly, the two testimonials on his website come from two famous, yet drastically different chefs: Guy Fieri and Ramsay. While this could be simply because Horgan has featured on both men's shows, one can't help but feel that the fact that he's managed to impress them both is a great example of his versatility.

One of his greatest victories has nothing to do with cooking

One would assume that a man with a work history like Horgan's would have any amount of Michelin star-tinted opportunities to call his finest hour, but in a 2018 interview with Washingtonianthe chef revealed that one of his greater accomplishments hits much closer to home. At 6'3", Horgan is a big man, but he used to be a lot bigger just a few years ago. Over the years, his history of weight-lifting and rugby gave way to type 2 diabetes and a 475-pound frame — a dangerous combination in the high-stress life of a top chef. 

However, Horgan wasn't about to give up. With a lifestyle overhaul that involved changing his diet and slowly shedding pounds with exercises like walking and eventually running, he managed to get to a much healthier weight of 330 pounds. After just seven months, he had beaten his type 2 diabetes, and felt "invincible." He says that the change also restored much of his strength. 

But what kept Horgan motivated? In one quote, the chef answered the question, and also proved why he has all the makings of your new favorite Hell's Kitchen contestant: "Wanting to live the American dream and look good doing it. I'm a single Irish man who is easy on the eyes now, and can cook as well, with a voice like a lullaby. Also mainly I didn't want to die."