Details From The Set Of Next Level Chef, Straight From The Winner And Her Mentor Nyesha Arrington - Exclusive

Gordon Ramsay's latest culinary showdown has just wrapped up its first season, and after 10 weeks of mentorship and tough cooking battles, the very first "Next Level Chef" has been named. It was no small feat, either. "Next Level Chef" is unlike any cooking competition you've ever seen, following chefs through a series of challenges in not one, not two, but three different kitchens, while whipping up dishes under tight deadlines with limited ingredients. Along the way, the chefs get hands-on guidance from Ramsay himself, alongside chefs Nyesha Arrington and Richard Blais. The show is all about testing the participants' creativity and ability to think on their feet, and from the first episode, it's clear it's an intense competition.

Mashed got the chance to speak with the first winner of "Next Level Chef", Pyet DeSpain, along with her mentor for the competition, chef Arrington. In an exclusive interview, the two shared inside details from the set, from the long filming days to what it's like cooking in the basement, to all the kitchen mishaps viewers did and didn't get to see on camera.

The differences in the 'Next Level' kitchens are no joke

On any given episode of "Next Level Chef," the contestants have no idea which kitchen they'll be cooking in — the top level kitchen, which is basically a picture of high-tech culinary heaven; the sturdy and familiar commercial kitchen in the middle; or the dreaded basement kitchen. Season 1 winner Pyet DeSpain told Mashed those kitchens truly put a chef's skills to the test with the basement kitchen in particular being especially brutal. "[There's] not a whole lot going on in there — which, as a chef, you really, really have to be creative and be quick on your feet and be able to improvise and make something happen. You don't even have metal forks, you don't have metal spoons. It's crazy. We were cooking with plastic forks down there."

Adding to the pressure of the kitchens is the fast pace of the competitions. DeSpain added that "Next Level Chef" is all about thinking fast and working with what you have. She told Mashed the competitors were barely given any time to prep for each round of the competition. "We know as soon as they tell us. Then, when we leave, we have a little bit of time to think about it before they're taking us up onto the elevator. ... The planning didn't matter. You can have the dish in your head and you get up there and none of those ingredients are on the platform."

Things became dangerous in the 'Next Level' kitchens too

Filming "Next Level Chef" was not only intense, but a demanding and exhausting process, according to chef Pyet DeSpain and her mentor on the show, Nyesha Arrington. Arrington told Mashed that the show filmed five days a week, with the days starting early.

Those long grueling days meant some kitchen mishaps were all but inevitable. Arrington and DeSpain confirmed as much, telling Mashed that the show didn't happen without a lot of cuts, scrapes, and fires along the way. DeSpain revealed, "There's a ton of finger cuts going on ... if they showed every cut that happened, [viewers] would be like, 'These people don't know how to f***ing cook,' but [in this situation], you're shaking and your nerves are everywhere and some of those knives are really, really sharp."

And if not cuts, there was a good chance of a fire in the "Next Level" kitchens, especially when chef Tricia [Wang] was competing. "There always seems to be some element of fire going on around her," chef Arrington dished to Mashed, adding, "[In one episode], there's a whole fire situation and I basically have to save everyone by getting rid of this pan and tossing it over the front balcony of the kitchen. It was a scary moment." As DeSpain put it, "We were going through some war in the kitchen."

The first season of "Next Level Chef" is available to stream on FOX NOW and Hulu.