Mary Lou Davis Calls Her First Day On Hell's Kitchen Terrible - Exclusive

In an exclusive interview with Mashed, Mary Lou Davis — the "Hell's Kitchen" Season 19 runnerup — told us that she had been in the middle of opening a Florida location of Whiskey Cake Kitchen and Bar, when she got the call that she was cast. Despite her restaurant management's lack of encouragement, Davis flew to Los Angeles three weeks later. 

Once settled into her hotel room, though, she was wracked with self-doubt. Her general manager's parting comment — "You're only there because you're interesting" — haunted her, and she called her mother in tears. "You need to buck up, and you need to be better," Davis was shocked to hear her mother say. "I've never been more disappointed in you. You're so great, and I can't understand why you don't see how great you are." Davis was hurt by her mom's sharp words, but she realized her mother was right. A close friend told her that she can't judge herself based on somebody else's resume. But the next day, as the cast was bussed to the set, Davis was intimidated by their confidence. "They're all talking about their cool tattoos that they have. And like, 'Yeah, well, I do this and I do that.'" Shivering with nerves, Davis huddled in the back of the bus, keeping to herself. When the cast arrived to the "Hell's Kitchen" set, they were offered champagne. Davis downed two glasses to steady herself. She was about to meet Gordon Ramsay.

Mary Lou Davis panicked when she met Gordon Ramsay

Mary Lou Davis felt unworthy of being on "Hell's Kitchen" and was terrified she would embarrass herself, which is why she recalled her first day on the set as "terrible." When Ramsay made his entrance, Davis panicked because she knew what was coming next: It was time to make her signature dish. But she went blank. "I can't remember how to cook anything," she revealed. "This is where I go home." But Ramsay shook things up by pitting the women against the men in creating dishes with ingredients that popped up on a huge slot machine (via YouTube). 

Davis got salmon, Brussels sprouts, and brown rice. As she said on the episode, she hated cooking rice, especially brown rice, which turned out "crunchy," and Ramsay rated Davis' effort a two (on a one-to-five scale). Davis told us that she panicked for the first 10 episodes because she feared she wasn't good enough. But once she got out of her head, and stopped comparing herself to the others, she began gaining recognition from Ramsay. "That's when he's just like 'Mary, that's really good' or 'this tastes really great.'" Although Davis eventually lost to Kori Sutton, "Hell's Kitchen" built up her confidence. When she returned to Whiskey Cake, her new positive self-image came with her. "I was more confident in myself, and I was more outspoken, like "hey, this isn't right. Let's do this."

To learn more about Mary Lou Davis's continuing adventures in the culinary world, follow her on Instagram. You can watch all episodes of "Geeks and Grubs" on her YouTube channel.