Image: YouTube/Fox Broadcasting
Ja’Nel Witt may not yet be a household name, but her calm, cool demeanor along with her creativity won her the $250,000 grand prize as she cooked her way into winning Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen. Just a few weeks ago, Witt beat out runner-up Mary Poehnelt and wowed Chef Ramsay enough to walk away with both the cash and the position of head chef at the Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill in Las Vegas, Nevada.
However, it looks like she won’t be taking up that prestigious offer after all. ITV Studios, the production company that makes the show, said in a post on the Hell’s Kitchen Facebook page last month: “Recent unforeseen personal circumstances will now unfortunately prevent her from accepting the position, which is a huge disappointment for Ja’Nel and all of us. She’s an incredible talent, and we all wish her much success with the next chapter of her career.”
“Unforeseen personal circumstances,” our slotted spoon! Witt may have gotten a bit blown away by it all. Okay, actually, let’s be real – she was said to be dabbling in the white stuff, and we don’t mean powdered sugar. Reports have said that the first-place finisher failed her drug test “miserably.”
According to TMZ, Witt tested positive for cocaine, and the head-chef position in Vegas instantly became history. Caesars Palace is notorious for their very strict drug policy and requires all their employees to undergo drug screening. When they learned of the results of Witt’s drug test, they sent her packing even before she got the chance to unpack her bags. She will apparently get to keep the $250,000, though – which could buy a heck of a lot of drugs if she wanted to commiserate.
It’s not the first time a Hell’s Kitchen winner has been in trouble with the law, however. Danny Veltri, 2009’s champion, was previously arrested in Florida for dipping into the sauce too frequently – and yep, it’s not the hollandaise. When police arrived, they found Veltri “intoxicated and in control” of a 2005 Dodge Neon.
His blood alcohol level measured a .12, substantially higher than the legal limit of .08. Veltri was arrested and later released on $500 bail.
Such happenings do put the “reality” into “reality TV,” but perhaps Chef Ramsay needs to tighten his screening process up to avoid the talk around his show being less on felony and more on food.