The Truth About Jayaun Smith From Hell's Kitchen: Young Guns Season 1

Chef Jayaun Smith may only be 25 years old, but he's quickly building a food empire in Kansas City. At 22, Smith became the first executive chef at Ruby Jean's Kitchen and Juicery (via Startland News). The following year, Smith was named "Best Chef" in The Pitch's 2018 Best of Kansas City issue. In October 2020, Smith and business partner Steven Blakley opened Sauced, a lunch counter catering to downtown business people. Then came Just Slide, with an emphasis on sliders, which operates out of a shipping container in Kansas City's Iron District. 

As if his two current restaurants weren't enough to keep Smith busy, he and Blakley — under the overarching brand name UHUNGRY? — also roll out a food truck with a variety of menus called The What Truck (via Instagram).

While Smith was attracting media attention with some of his more recent ventures, he had to keep a big secret. Smith was one of 18 young chefs, all between the ages of 21 and 24, who took part in filming a season of Gordon Ramsay's "Hell's Kitchen" back in the pre-pandemic days of 2019 (via Gold Derby). The cast was announced earlier this month, and Smith was finally able to let his followers know all about it on Twitter. This 20th season of "Hell's Kitchen," aka the first season of "Hell's Kitchen: Young Guns," premieres May 31 on Fox. Smith, who was 23 during filming, will be on the all-male blue team, pitted against the female red team.

'Hell's Kitchen' contestant Jayaun Smith learned how to cook watching 'Iron Chef'

Some people get their start in cooking at the knee of a parent or grandparent. Jayaun Smith, on the other hand, spent a lot of time home alone, watching "Iron Chef America" (via Startland News). His mother, who had Jayaun when she was 15, not only finished high school, but also stayed in school long enough to complete a Ph.D. in psychology. "Having her strength and seeing how she never gave up, it really taught me how to hone in on something you love," Smith said.

Smith entered culinary competitions at the state and national levels by the time he was 16. He went through the chef apprentice program at a community college outside Kansas City before landing that executive chef job at Ruby Jean's.

Now we can add "Hell's Kitchen: Young Guns" to the chef's list of accomplishments. Smith tried to put his feelings into words in a recent tweet: "I can't even formulate the words or even explain the feeling of being a young kid growing up in the kitchen playing around as if I was on TV cooking on a show, and now actually being in the position now where I'll be on a show that's watched by the WORLD. There is a God."