Under the very watchful eye of the FOX network PR department, we spoke with the most local of the Hell's Kitchen 3 contestants about tonight's big premiere (9pm). Even on the HK website, 26-year-old Bonnie Muirhead stands out: She's blonde, perky---actually, downright hot. And bonus: she's nothing like the big guy blubbering in all the promos. By her upbeat tone this afternoon, we expect to see Bonnie sticking around a few episodes of HK3?maybe she'll even make it as far as last year's runner-up, the equally hot Virginia, who made quite an impression on the fiery Gordon Ramsay. If FOX allows, we'll check in with Bonnie as the weeks tick on. For now, read about the girl from Agoura Hills, why people are willing to deal with the wrath of Ramsay, and why she chose Hell's Kitchen over Top Chef.
Eater LA: Excited for the show tonight?
Bonnie Muirhead: We taped it so long ago, wrapped in February, and I'm just glad it's finally airing so I can talk about it, and everyone can see what I've been up to. I'm having a viewing party at La Cantina (in Hollywood) tonight with all of my friends.
ELA: Are you from LA originally?
BM: Born and raised in Agoura Hills, now I'm a personal chef and nanny for a family in Beverly Hills.
ELA: How'd that happen?
BM: I kind of fell into it. I was going back to school for child psychology when I took this job, and it turned out to be really kitchen focused. I was never really interested in cooking as a profession. I started to get a knack for it, and then went to culinary school, to the Kitchen Academy in Hollywood.
ELA: Do you have a restaurant background?
BM: I was a struggling actress for a long time, so of course I worked as a waitress. I never worked in the kitchen as a cook, but I always made friends with line cooks and chefs. Some waitresses never realize that if you make nice with the kitchen, they could help when you screw up. I worked at James Beach in Venice, Arnie Mortons Steakhouse on La Cienega, the Grand Havana Room, and at Nine Thirty and the Backyard at the W Hotel in Westwood.
ELA: Why Hell's Kitchen 3?
BM: When I was in culinary school, people said wait a year and then audition for Top Chef. Everyone who knows me knows that I'm a big ham in front of the camera. I forgot about HK because I didn't watch the second season, but one girl in my class was boasting that she was trying out for it, and I got really competitive and wanted to try out. I never thought I'd make it on the show. I wanted to try it and see how well I'd do. I do think I have a gift.
ELA: After you found out you made it onto the show, did you watch season 1 and 2 for tips?
BM: I watched the first season when it was on, and I loved it. I'd bite my fingernails through the whole thing. I didn’t watch the second season because of school, but I did watch the The F Word (Ramsay's other show) on BBC. He was yelling at all these people, and I thought, why would I want to be tortured like that?
ELA: Tell us about working with Ramsay. We've heard he's actually really nice.
BM: We really didn't get to see the nice side of him. The way he gets people to do things is through fear. He keeps everyone on their toes by keeping this persona in the kitchen. The kitchen is a different environment: It's high tension, time sensitive, and if one person screws up, everyone has to start over again. To have the opportunity to even talk to Gordon Ramsay at this point in my career is amazing.
ELA: How was that kitchen?
BM: The kitchen itself was amazing, but the competition was really frustrating for a lot of people. Cooking on the show is really nerve wracking, because all these people who really want to do well, who are used to doing well, can't. It was always a source of anxiety for me.
ELA: How were the other contestants?
BM: I got along with everyone for the most part, and I still talk to a lot of them. When you live with people that you don't know, and compete against them, things can get stressful. I got in a few confrontations, but I really like everybody. It was always sad to see someone go.
ELA: We'll take that to mean you didn't get booted off the first episode.
BM: Well, you'll just have to watch and see.
· Food TV Summer Preview: Next Food Network Star, Hell's Kitchen, and Top Chef Premiere Next Week [~ELA~]
We talked to Bonnie through this whole season. Find all of our conversations here