Here's How Kori Sutton's Life Changed After Winning Hell's Kitchen - Exclusive

Being on "Hell's Kitchen" was a wild ride for Kori Sutton, and she was one of the calmer cooks on Season 19. "Being a mom, I kind of ran into a mom position in the house, where I was always cooking for [the other contestants] and making sure people drink water and ate enough food," Sutton told Mashed during an exclusive interview. "So I was kind of fortunate to not run into a lot of drama. I mean, we all had a little bit, but I was able to kind of stay out of it by just being that mama bear in the kitchen."

That role worked well for her, because the chefs competing on the show don't stop competing after the cameras stop rolling, Sutton explained. "Off-camera, it's still competition, because you're trapped in an almost dorm-type setting with [all these] chefs that are all very same mindset. 'I'm here to win and I'm going to win. I'm going to knock everybody down.' So you have some of those guys there that were just cool and just hang out and just be at least cordial. And then you have some are just like: 'I don't care if you fall on your face tomorrow, I'm kicking you out.' You always kind of had to be on your toes at all times."

So while Sutton's victory at the end of the season was a huge honor for her, she's also glad to taking things a bit easier these days. Since "Hell's Kitchen," I've actually taken a little bit of time off. I work as a private chef here in LA, doing at-home, in-home cheffing. But I'm taking a little bit of time. I'm actually starting to launch myself a company, [Mama Kori Salsa], which will [launch] on September 15th. ... And we'll just kind of see where it goes from there."

Kori Sutton had almost no prep for her 'Hell's Kitchen' appearance

Being a contestant on "Hell's Kitchen" is a wild ride, given the cameras, the competition with the other chefs, and of course the presence of larger-than-life chef Gordon Ramsay. (Though Sutton completely gets where Ramsay is coming from, whether he's calm and collected or up at an 11. She said: "If he's yelling at you, it's because he's told you twice how to do it, and you're still not listening. You deserve to get yelled at. ... When he's there teaching you and talking to you, like one-on-one, it's really a fatherly moment.")

Equally wild to the ride on the show was how Sutton learned she would be on "Hell's Kitchen" in the first place. "I was actually at the grocery store with my son when I got the phone call," she said. "And I'm like: 'Who is this? What is this about? What?' And they're like: 'Oh yeah, this is 'Hell's Kitchen.' You submitted your resume years ago or a while back. And we just totally forgot about you. And we wanted to see if you wanted to come on the show.' And I'm like: 'Sure, why not? I mean, at this point, I mean, what is there to lose?' And they're like: 'Cool, great. Your interview is tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m.' I was just like: 'It's 7:00 at night.'"

"So it was the whole whirlwind of having to finish doing grocery shopping, going home with my son, making dinner, getting my outfits ready and what I was going to do and all my stuff ready for an interview the next day," Sutton went on. "It happened so fast, and it didn't quite set in until I was on the plane to Vegas to do the show."

Stay up to date with Kori Sutton's culinary creations by following her on Instagram. Be sure to check out her new salsa line, Mama Kori Salsa.