New Jersey native Amanda Giblin will be one of 20 contestants on the new season of Hell’s Kitchen, the culinary shark tank/reality show helmed by caustic British chef Gordon Ramsay. With her curly hair and angelic dimples, Giblin looks almost too delicate for her grilling in Ramsay’s kitchen—but the 28-year-old executive chef has 13 years of cooking experience beginning with recipes from her Irish-Italian family.
While in high school, her teachers noted her talents and encouraged Giblin to consider pursuing a career in culinary arts. She attended Johnson & Wales University in Providence, RI, and after graduating she proved her skill as executive chef in a restaurant in Suffern, NY. “It was here that I really learned to push myself outside of my comfort zone; to develop my skill and cooking style. I was granted the freedom to experiment and explore my palate with seasonal fresh local ingredients, transforming them into simple, flavorful and artistic dishes,” she tells GO.
Giblin gave us a peek into the Hell’s Kitchen cauldron in advance of the new season’s premier on March 12.
GO: Which restaurants have you worked in, and where are you cooking now?
Giblin: I was a personal chef for an incredible family in New Fairfield, CT for two-and-a-half years, sous chef at Savory in Manhattan for about a year, an executive chef in Poughkeepsie, NY for a short while, and most recently, I was just offered a position as a sous chef at Citi Field, home of the New York Mets.
What is your culinary specialty?
My specialty is pan-seared sea scallops over roasted corn and crispy prosciutto risotto with a lemon butter nage.
What persuaded you to try out for Hell’s Kitchen?
My wife, Anna, and I watch the show a lot and she basically planted the seed in my head. After giving it some thought, I knew it would be an excellent opportunity to challenge myself. I wanted to prove to myself that I could survive “Hell” and that I had what it takes to make it to the end.
Are you ready for the infamous verbal assaults from Chef Ramsay?
Growing up, I was picked on quite often, so my mother raised me to let things like that roll off my back. It’s those experiences that have allowed me to become thick-skinned and I use that to motivate and drive me to push harder to succeed.
What skills did you bring to the table–literally–that you felt gave you the edge against your competitors?
I worked under a chef for three years who pushed and challenged me in ways I never imagined, every single day! That experience has prepared me mentally for what I was about to experience with Chef Ramsay. I was taught the skill of being able to stay focused under extreme pressure.
Give us a hint of your favorite challenge on the show. Did you ever have to scale a hundred pounds of fish after losing a round?
Though there were many memorable moments for me this season, I’m afraid you’ll just have to tune in to see what exciting challenges and rewards/punishments Chef Ramsay had in store for us!
Did you feel that being a lesbian was an asset in the competition?
I don’t feel it was a necessarily an asset, but I was excited for the opportunity to be seen on TV as a positive lesbian role model. I [also] have a strong assertive personality, which has allowed me to be successful in this male-dominated profession.
Finally, what did you learn about yourself from the Hell’s Kitchen experience?
I am much stronger than I ever give myself credit for! There is nothing in my profession that can break me. Since my time in Hell’s Kitchen, I truly am a stronger chef.