The Mistakes Chef Kiya Wilhelm Didn't Know She Was Making Until Hell's Kitchen - Exclusive

Chef Kiya Wilhelm is looking forward to a long career in the culinary world, but don't mistake her drive and confidence as arrogance, because that's one thing she certainly is not. In fact, during a recent Mashed interview, when asked about advice for amateur chefs, Wilhelm immediately countered with: "I'm an amateur chef myself!"

That's coming from someone who already has professional restaurant experience and who studied cooking and restaurant management in school. Oh, and she was a finalist on "Hell's Kitchen: Young Guns," the 20th season of the Gordon Ramsay-helmed show.

As it happened, for Wilhelm, "Hell's Kitchen" was as much a learning experience as an opportunity to show off her skills. She didn't realize one mistake she was making that was costing her time. "One of the biggest things [I learned] was keeping pans hot," she said. "A lot of places that you cook in around here — I'm speculating because I haven't worked in every place around my hometown — but a lot of places don't keep pans hot. They go from a shelf to the stove and you just warm it up that way. On 'Hell's Kitchen,' The biggest thing was [Chef Ramsay] wanted you to keep the pans up amongst the burners where the exhaust was coming off of the ovens. And that kept a residual heat in the pan. It cut the time in half for getting a pan hot to sear something. I never expected that. I didn't really think about it. I don't know if a lot of people do or not."

Wilhelm learned to minimize food prep

It's not uncommon for some restaurant ingredients to be kept frozen until they're cooked, while in other cases, ingredients are prepared in batches and kept warm until needed for a given dish (via The Washington Post).

But that approach doesn't cut it when Gordon Ramsay is calling the shots, nor when he's mentoring up-and-coming young chefs on "Hell's Kitchen." Kiya Wilhelm explained how things are done according to Ramsay's standards, saying: "Another thing [I learned about] was preparation. So food prep, in general, is always a big thing in the kitchen but on 'Hell's Kitchen,' it's very minimal. The biggest thing that is prepped is the garnish station. And I didn't realize that that was a thing at all ... from places that I've worked in, you prep as much as you can and then you're just kind of like finishing it ... and then everything just kind of comes together at the end." In comparison, Wilhelm was preparing everything step-by-step on set. "You needed everything fresh, and the last thing that was done was something like the vegetables were reheated, but they were cooked to order. And that's something that I had to get used to, was making sure that things were fresh. Not only day of prep, but an hour before prep."

To tag along with her latest culinary adventures, follow chef Kiya Wilhelm on Instagram