After a summer of celebrity, gay chef Rachel Brown is pleased to be back in North Texas doing what she loves
Winning is not always what it’s cracked up to be. Sometimes, just playing the game is reward enough.
That was certainly true of Rachel Brown’s experience. With her plainspoken honesty, the openly lesbian Oak Cliff chef proved to be a fan favorite on this summer’s hit reality series, “Hell’s Kitchen.” Even though she did not emerge the victor, Brown says she’s happy with how everything turned out.
“If I couldn’t be the winner, I think Heather deserved it the most,” she says of Heather West, who walked away with the top prize: a one-year contract working as a chef, and a minority partnership in a Las Vegas resort restaurant.
But most of all, Brown’s proud to say she has no regrets about how she played the game. “Given the chance to do it over, I wouldn’t change a thing,” she says.
That’s not true of some of the other contestants, she says, who since the “Hell’s Kitchen” finale have called her to apologize.
For Brown, the opportunity alone was more than enough. Already a successful personal chef, cooking instructor and caterer, Brown always knew she had a business to come back to and loyal clients who would tolerate her shot at fame. That wasn’t true of everyone else.
“Some of those people came on the show for a career, and they haven’t been able to find work,” she says. At least one other has gone through a divorce since the show aired.
Being on the show actually helped clarify her career goals. She spent many years working in restaurants before venturing out on her own. For the past seven years, she has also worked with Sur la Table, mostly teaching children how to make everything from souffl?s to crepes Suzette to ragout of pork.
“The show reminded me why I left restaurants in the first place,” she says. “There were reasons I went into private chef work.”
Was one of those reasons the show’s host, the notoriously temperamental British guru Gordon Ramsay? Not really, according to Brown.
“You just ignore him,” she says of his voluble rants. “All European chefs are like that.”
Although she’s not averse to more TV appearances a reunion show is already in the works for now, Brown says she’s satisfied staying in North Texas and dining at her favorite restaurants: Cafe Madrid in Dallas for Spanish cooking, the Daddy Jack’s on Greenville Avenue for seafood and Piranha in Arlington for sushi.
Yes, even a down-home Texas girl likes sushi sometimes.
Rachel Brown, Chefs on Call, 903 S. Oak Cliff Blvd. 214-293-2093. ChefsOnCall.fws1.com.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, October 13, 2006.