The Philly area will be amply represented on the 11th season of Fox's Hell's Kitchen, where chefs Zach Womack, Jacqueline Baldassari, Michael Langdon, Jessica Wilson and Cyndi Stanimirov will be on the business end of Gordon Ramsay's pie hole, starting March 12.
For the first time, the 20 contestants (not 18) will head to Las Vegas to present their signature dishes before a live audience.
Winner becomes head chef under executive chef Jeremy Berlin at Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill at Caesars Palace in Vegas. Last season's winner was Christina Wilson of Philly.
The Season 11 locals are:
Jacqueline Baldassari, 27, of Florence, Burlington County, executive chef and consultant at Ivy Inn in Princeton; her resume includes sous chef at Triumph Brewery in Princeton. Signature dish is Magret duck breast, sweet potato rosti, caramelized Brussels sprouts with currant au jus.
Michael Langdon, 33, of Hanover, Pa., who is executive chef at Huntsville Golf Club in Shavertown, Pa., after stops at Brasserie Perrier and Glenmaura National Golf Club. (OK, so I'm expanding "Philly area" just a bit.) Signature dish: Seared striped bass and ratatouille with saffron tomato jus.
Zach Womack, 34, of Philadelphia, a cook at The Cambridge. He previously worked at Savona, Capital Grill and Warmdaddy's. Signature dish: Pork chop with apple fig puree.
Cyndi Stanimirov, 25, of Willingboro, a la carte chef at The Madison in Riverside. She’s been there since its May 2007 opening. She graduated from Burlington County Institute of Technology in Westampton, graduated from Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte, and is enrolled at Drexel University to finish her B.A. in Hospitality Management Hotel and Restaurant Management graduating this June. (Fox initially provided Queens, N.Y. as her hometown.)
Jessica Lewis, 26, is an Allentown native who lived in Manayunk after college, where she got a B.A. in economics. She worked for Vanguard in Malvern before trading job security for a life in the kitchen. She works at Bagatelle NYC, a French restaurant in New York's Meatpacking District.
Yet another contestant is Jon Scallion from York, Pa., not really our backyard but a Pennsylvanian nonetheless.