Why Hell's Kitchen Star Kiya Wilhelm Admires Gordon Ramsay - Exclusive

Chef Gordon Ramsay is one of the most famous figures of the culinary world today, yet the red-faced, cursing persona countless TV viewers know is hardly a reflection of the real man himself. Those who have worked closely with Ramsay tend to find him intense, passionate, and occasionally loud, but he's not prone to shouting in others' faces for fun. That was certainly the impression taken away by chef Kiya Wilhelm, a competitor and finalist on Season 20 of "Hell's Kitchen: Young Guns " (via Yahoo).

During an exclusive interview with Mashed, Wilhelm dished on chef Ramsay, who she found to be a kindred spirit. "A lot of people say: 'Is he really that much of an a**?' I don't believe him to be one. I gel really well with an abrasive type of personality. I'm an abrasive type personality myself. I have so much more admiration for the man now. Because what they don't really show in the season is how nurturing he was to us," she explained. "If we were struggling with something, he took the time to sit there and show you, [saying]: 'No, this is how I want you to do it because this way is easier.'"

While hardly children, the cooks on "Young Guns" were young enough to bring out the chef's paternal side. "I think that that's one thing that the season faltered at [showing]," Wilhelm said. "We're in that in-between age — we're not too young and we're not too old. We're not so young that we shouldn't know what we're doing, and we're not too old to where we're supposed to know everything. So [chef Ramsay] kind of gelled us, molded us, and helping us in a way get to the final product rather than just expecting it to be right."

Cooking takes passion

If there is one indisputable thing that can be said about Gordon Ramsay, it's that he has passion. And it's this very quality that has fueled his success as a restaurateur, a TV star, a philanthropist and investor, a chef, and a mentor to so many others whose dream is to cook. Because without a passion for cooking, it's a career choice best not made. Even in her early 20s, chef Kiya Wilhelm already knows that. The need for a true commitment to the culinary life was only confirmed by her time on the show.

"One of the biggest things is I chose to do a career that is clearly hard work," Wilhelm said. "You work hours that people don't want to do and you are the responsible one during parties and stuff like that. You're making the stuff that people don't want to make for themselves. You're an at-hire employee for people that are attempting to have a good time. Another thing that I really wish people would realize [is] for younger chefs, if you can find one with the hunger to learn, you better hire them immediately. Because if they show that they want to learn, imagine all that you can teach them." Wilhelm includes herself in that group. "With a lot of other people from our season, I think that we took [that] in and it shows that we took in so much knowledge just from being there the time that we were."

Keep track of Kiya Wilhelm's latest culinary creations by following the chef on Instagram.