The Homestead’s Aaron Smock To Compete On Hell’s Kitchen

Banquet Chef Aaron Smock has been keeping an exciting secret. On the 16th season of Fox’s hit reality show—premiering September 23rd at 8 p.m. on FOX—Smock and 18 other chefs from across the country will compete for a $250,000 grand prize and a head chef position at Yardbird Southern Table & Bar at The Venetian Las Vegas.

Be sure to check out the show this Friday. But before you do, check out what Smock had to say about the long audition process, life in the dorm and what Chef Gordon Ramsey is really like when the cameras aren’t rolling.

Aaron Smock competes on Hell's Kitchen

What was your experience up to Hell’s Kitchen? What inspired you to try to be a contestant on the show?

I have been cooking since I was six years old, so before Hell's Kitchen I worked in many different restaurants—everything from family style to fine dining. Going on the show was actually my family’s idea. I figured I'm still young, so why not give it a try!

There’s more to getting picked to appear on Hell’s Kitchen than simply filling out an application. Can you tell us about the various stages of the selection process, starting with how long the entire process actually took, along with any portions of the interview/audition process that were especially nerve-wracking, difficult or that took you by surprise?

The interview process took about two months and it was very extensive. They have you take a personality test, background and medical checks. In between, there were a lot of interviews with producers who asked many questions about my past, present and future. The most nerve-wracking part of the whole process had to have been the waiting for the call back.

You are one of two local chefs selected for this season’s competition. How do you explain that, and are you and Traverse City’s Kim Ryan friends?

Kim Ryan and I did not previously know each other before the show, but through the show we got to know each other and we are now friends.

How would you compare Gordon Ramsey’s often-caustic, on-camera personality with his nice-guy off-camera persona?

Chef Ramsey is day and night. It was not so much “on and off camera” but more so “in the kitchen” and “out of the kitchen.” He is a very kind and caring man in both aspects. He may be a little angry in the kitchen, but that is understandable; he just wants everyone to do their best and wants all of the food to come out perfectly. To see if contestants are worthy of working for him, he pushes them to their breaking point only to see what they can and cannot handle.

What was the most difficult part about being show? Dorm life? The crazy Season 16 challenges? Getting dressed down by Chef Ramsey? Was there any point in the show where you questioned why you were doing this?

There was no point during the show that I doubted why I was there; I was there for a reason. Definitely, the most difficult part for me on the show was not knowing what was going to happen next. I am a man who plans ahead, and not knowing where I was going or what I was going to be doing was hard for me.

The dorm life was fun. Normally when you work with people you go home and you are away from them, but not on Hell's Kitchen. You go home and are with the people that you just worked with, so if you had beef with someone you couldn't go home and get away from the fight. You just had to keep going.

Be sure to catch the September 23rd premier of Hell’s Kitchen at 8 p.m. this Friday on Fox.