Are Hell's Kitchen Contestants Paid?

Watching "Hell's Kitchen" can, oftentimes, be quite an uncomfortable experience. One can only imagine what it is like to actually live it. The most obvious challenge that you would face as a contestant are the four-letter words that Gordon Ramsay will regularly hurl your way during one of his many fits of rage. You may be squirted by errant juices as he squashes an undercooked salmon, you might be called British profanities that you've never even heard of, and you'll likely have to duck as overdone beef is tossed through the air. And these are just the things that Ramsay, himself, may dish out.

Delish reports that for the entire six-week-long production time, you will also be completely MIA from the real world with no access to your family, the internet, or your trusty cellphone. According to former contestant Dana Cohen, you will have to adjust to the cameras rolling all the time, even in the restroom or when you're sobbing your eyes out (via North Jersey). And since you are in it to win it, you must be at the top of your game every single moment of every single day. No pressure of course.  

When you factor in that you have likely left your paid job but are still in fact using your culinary skills, it only makes sense that you will receive some sort of paycheck while you're on the show, right? Or does it? 

Hell's Kitchen contestants do receive a modest pay

Thankfully, the often stressed-out competitors on "Hell's Kitchen" do receive a "modest salary," although the show is very tight-lipped when it comes to just how much (via The Richest). There is, however, a great deal of online speculation. Screen Rant notes that participants on the show might receive between $750 and $1,000 each week, citing that most reality TV shows (like "Big Brother") pay $750. Since "Hell's Kitchen" demands that players possess a certain degree of skills, it makes sense that they would pay more. 

Many "Hell's Kitchen" contestants struggle with the pressures of the competition, but the possibilities of luxury dinners at top restaurants, spa days, and shopping trips might make the show's challenges more palatable. Other perks include, of course, the brilliant LA weather, free lodging with a hot tub, and access to some of the best culinary ingredients. And there is always the chance that they'll walk away with the top prize. Still, one must ask if $1,000 a week is enough. 

Hell's Kitchen contestants often work 15-hour days

As someone who knows what it's really like to be on "Hell's Kitchen," past contestant Ariel Malone told Delish that the hours on the show are outrageously long with contestants rising at 7:00 a.m. and returning to the dorms as late as 10:00 p.m. — and they still had to make themselves something to eat.

Even if their earnings are in the upper tier of reality TV show stipends, $1,000 per week is not much for 15-hour days, especially when you factor in how much Fox makes off Hell's Kitchen. Forbes reports that Gordon Ramsay's shows account for "more than $150 million yearly in ad sales for Fox."

Still, the show is never short of willing participants every season. Why are so many people willing to jump out of the proverbial frying pan and into the fire? While the monetary rewards may be few (unless, of course, you're the winner), participants do come away with invaluable culinary know-how and life lessons that no one can put a price tag on. And their moment of fame may help launch their careers. These things, alone, may make it all worthwhile.