Hell’s Kitchen: Young Guns Chef Brynn Gibson spoke to The Natural Aristocrat about icon Gordon Ramsay, using the Punishment Pass on Chef Steve Glenn, her artisan work at The Dumpling Den, and much more!
This Brynn Gibson Interview contains spoilers for Hell’s Kitchen Season 20.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT (NIR REGEV): Gordon Ramsey asked you to yell at him as a test to see if you could discipline your kitchen staff. You kind of anxiously laughed through it at the time… Do you wish you had a second shot to do it right after being eliminated?
BRYNN GIBSON: (laughs) Honestly, that was really tough to yell at him! I don’t like it when people yell at each other.
I ended up crying and I’m so glad he didn’t show it! I had tears in my eyes… Which is why I think he finally let me just stop yelling at him. I wasn’t yelling that well really! (laughs)
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: As a chef, do you think aesthetics or presentation can count more than taste or does taste always reign supreme? Is it a balance?
BRYNN GIBSON: That’s a really good question. I think it’s tough to say in the day and age of Instagram where people can’t taste your food photos. It’s all about how you present everything there.
That being said once you’re sitting down in the restaurant, it naturally shifts to how it tastes. So I think it’s a healthy mix of both.
But you do eat first with your eyes, your nose, and even your ears. You smell things. You can get an elegant lasagna at a restaurant and it’s plated beautifully. It looks amazing and it tastes good.
But then you go to your good friend who has an old Italian grandma… She takes the time to put the love in lasagna and you get a slice of lasagna that might not look as pretty, but it might taste 10 times better.
So that being said, I think it has to be an even balance of both. But personally I would rather have something that tastes better than it looks.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: What was it like diving for squid on Hell’s Kitchen: Young Guns?
BRYNN GIBSON: Oh, that was so much fun! I had a blast doing that. It was a little bit nerve wracking though. You can’t really see in the tank because the sand keeps coming up.
And then I swear to God at one point, Steve (Glenn) just like jumped in on top of me and I was coming up for air.
So I ended up swallowing a bunch of tank water. But it was one of those things where you just have to get through it.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: Were you really aiming to eliminate Chef Steve Glenn when you used your Punishment Pass by trying to get into his head? Or was that just the way it was presented on Hell’s Kitchen?
BRYNN GIBSON: A lot of people have asked that! (laughs) No honestly, I wasn’t really in sabotage mode when I was on the show. Maybe I should have been, maybe played a little bit. Maybe I should have ‘played’ a little bit harder.
But I decided not to… Because I think my mentality throughout the show was that I had to keep these people not necessarily on my side, but not piss them off either.
I felt like I was an easy target with my mental health or my mental state, as some people saw. They thought I was pretty weak. And so I decided instead of pissing people off and steering certain chefs toward elimination to just let it go. Maybe I should have leaned into it a little bit more though.
The reason I picked Steve (Glenn) was because he took my punishment pass from me. So I was like, you know what, I’ll do the same to him! In hindsight, maybe I should have picked Trenton (Garvey). But I can’t play in the world of what if’s.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: I thought everyone was subtly gunning for you and Chef Steve Glenn all season, because early on you & Steve seemed to have the top ranked dishes.
BRYNN GIBSON: I would say we were two very strong chefs. You know, I’m not sure if the other chefs agree with that statement! I personally agree with that statement… I think Steve and I both cooked with a lot of heart and passion.
Not saying that the other students didn’t have heart or passion of course. But we didn’t have the experience that others had. And so we got a little bit of heat from other chefs.
I think, we really put our passion in our dishes throughout the show and the audience saw that.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: I noticed you didn’t wear any goggles during the blind taste challenge on Hell’s Kitchen: Young Guns. You didn’t mind the caramel pouring in your eyes?
BRYNN GIBSON: So I was not offered googles I don’t think. But I kind of just had to take that as a champ as well. I just had to like get through it.
I was not expecting to get all of it on me and I was trying to cover my face… But nope! That was some really thick caramel. (laughs)
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: Do you chefs get together and do the blind taste challenge for fun on the weekends? Like a game of charades.
BRYNN GIBSON: I’ve never done it… But going on Hell’s Kitchen, knowing that was a classic challenge I probably should have!
But no, I usually don’t do blind taste challenges because with my friends, I don’t know what could be going in my mouth. (laughs)
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: Are you still friends with the rest of the chefs on Hell’s Kitchen: Young Guns? I’ve seen you do an Instagram Live with Chef Antonio Ruiz on mental awareness recently. But I was curious if any animosity lingered or if that was more amped up for the show?
BRYNN GIBSON: No, actually it wasn’t for the show. All of the stuff that transpired that you all saw were real feelings. It wasn’t like, “Oh, we’re going to be best friends and say that we’re mad at each other!” I was really pissed at Payton (Cooper) and Josie (Clemens).
It’s funny, when I first watched that episode, where Payton was getting frustrated with me and seeing his remarks on it…
I was getting mad again, I was getting frustrated again. And I was like, “Oh, this is so frustrating! Why can’t you see what’s happening?”
And it was kind of funny cause I guess two years later at this point… I still feel certain emotions when certain things are happening.
When certain people said certain things, I don’t think any of it was for show. I’ll speak for myself though. I never once tried to play something up or make something up that didn’t happen. I always felt what I said.
I might… I could have, as I said earlier, I could have leaned into it maybe a little bit more, but no. I definitely remember being upset with Josie (Clemens) and being upset with Payton (Cooper).
There’s still a group chat of a lot of us on and we’re all very much still in touch with each other and very supportive of each other.
Chef Antonio (Ruiz) started doing his mental health initiative and I wanted to bring more awareness to that. Just because, you know, mental health is so important to myself. So that’s why we did that Instagram Live together.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: I was surprised you did the zip line actually, because Hell’s Kitchen gave you this image that you were very worried or anxious. And then you went ahead and did it. Kept cool, no problem.
BRYNN GIBSON: I honestly think that was being a little bit more nervous… I mean, as you have seen on the show, I get panic attacks and stuff like that.
Obviously we’re filming, but stepping out into public again and realizing, “Oh my God, like I’m on Hell’s Kitchen! It definitely stunned me a little.
I think that happened, as we were walking up to get prepared to go over to the zip line. That was a little bit spooky for me, but I do love zip lining. Stuff like that is fun… But I think over in Las Vegas in that little area was a bit more nerve-wracking for me than usual.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: What’s your personal biggest Gordon Ramsey memory on Hell’s Kitchen: Young Guns?
BRYNN GIBSON: Probably the goodbyes. When I said goodbye to him… But also in that personal interview that we had… I think he really saw how passionate I was about what I was doing.
Because he asked me, “How are you sometimes all over the place but then the moment you’re in the kitchen and cooking, you’re really centered & focused?” And I was like, “Honestly, my head could be on fire when I’m cooking and I’ll be so calm because that’s what I love doing.”
It’s what I’m passionate about and I think he saw it when we had the talk. That meant a lot to me that he was able to see who I am as a person… And whether or not he remembers or thinks about it on the daily doesn’t matter as much. For those 10 or 20 minutes, he saw that in me.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: I noticed Gordon Ramsey said that you were ready to be a head chef despite your elimination. I was wondering since American Idol runner-ups like Adam Lambert have went on to get big offers, if you’ve been contacted? Have you been asked by to work at another one of Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants or anything like that?
BRYNN GIBSON: No, I actually have not been in touch with anybody from the Gordon Ramsey group… But that being said, I can’t speak for the other contestants if they have as well or not. I’ve noticed that, I’ve been in touch more with other local kind of restaurants about doing things with them.
Maybe not necessarily working at the restaurant, you know, pop ups and stuff of that nature. But yeah, I would be kind of surprised if Chef Ramsay personally reached out to me just because… There are two other people between Trenton and myself, Kiya (Wilhelm) and Megan (Gill), who are also amazing chefs.
But I’m always open to new opportunities and I always try to say yes to everything!
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: I’ve read you were originally contacted from a Facebook group for line cooks to do Hell’s Kitchen and you thought it was spam. When did you realize it wasn’t and how did it feel?
BRYNN GIBSON: Yes, that’s true! A day or two? I was looking into it and the woman, the casting person was just like, ‘Oh, here’s my information, yada, yada, yada like feel free to call my boss! This happens all the time.’
I thought “Well, that makes it even more suspicious to me!” Because if it is happening all the time then… It was just weird. (laughs) But then once I got an email with her heading and the title and how professional it looked, I was just like, “This is for real!”
And then we set up the Zoom and I knew it was really for real! (laughs) It kind of only set in once I was actually on the interview call with her. “Oh my God, this is for Hell’s Kitchen! And it was really nerve wracking, but I knew that I had to keep my cool.
I tried to play it cool and make it like it was just another day in my life. But it was really, really intimidating just because it was something new and out of my comfort zone.
I am someone that likes to explore out of my comfort zone, but in a zone that I’m still comfortable with, if that makes sense. So that was way out of my comfort zone! And I was definitely not super prepared for that.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: You watched Grill! it with Bobby Flay growing up… Now that you’re all grown up do you think you could Beat Bobby Flay? Pun intended.
BRYNN GIBSON: (laughs) That’s crazy! But I have been asked that once before and… I don’t want to sound too cocky, but I think I might be able to!
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: What’s it like to set up those pop-up shops for The Dumpling Den?
BRYNN GIBSON: It’s exciting! I’m actually looking for a new place, hopefully this coming month or next month. I want to try to do two in a month. I love Fortnight Wine Bar, they have a great vibe, great atmosphere, great people.
And so it was really nice when they offered me a spot there to do my popup. It’s pretty nerve wracking cause it’s still just me running the operation, but I really appreciated the platform that they gave me.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: Has COVID-19 had a major impact on your career trajectory? I know Hell’s Kitchen Season 20 was shot prior to the pandemic.
BRYNN GIBSON: COVID has changed my career in a sense… I was working in the restaurant industry through COVID, and then it was not till this past year, I’d say this past April, I ended up leaving work.
I left the restaurant I worked at because the money was kind of terrible, the customers weren’t really coming in… But then also what was happening was I realized that, only I can appreciate the amount of effort that I put into something I do.
I was putting in a ton of effort at this one restaurant and I felt as though I wasn’t being acknowledged. So I figured I would take my work elsewhere and work for someone that appreciated all the effort. And that person was me!
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: That part on Hell’s Kitchen: Young Guns where you say ‘How can they call me emotionally weak?! Oh God I’m crying!” Was that shot comedically intentionally in the moment or edited in post?
BRYNN GIBSON: I try to make light of myself in certain situations. Like let’s try to make light of it because mental health is a serious, very, very serious, topic.
Anxiety and depression and all of those other mental illnesses. I call them mental obstacles actually.
It’s something that we have to live with daily and that we actually don’t control. That’s why I’m the kind of person that would rather make fun of myself before others make fun of me to take their power away.
But at the end of the day, I don’t hide behind it anymore. I do really try to embrace it. But I think during the show, as people saw me, like continuing to cry, I had to try to frame it in a different way.
I cried because I care. Unfortunately, some people yell and scream when they care. Everyone has a different way of expressing their passion.
I got frustrated because I cared so much because I felt as though maybe others weren’t caring as much, or I didn’t deserve to be put up for elimination for whatever the reason was. But my frustration was translated into tears.
It’s really only because I care so much and I’m so passionate about what I’m doing. As a chef I know excellence is expected from us, and I only wish to give excellence.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: What are you gonna miss most about Hell’s Kitchen: Young Guns?
BRYNN GIBSON: Honestly the intensity, it was really fun! I hadn’t been in such a high intensity environment in a while.
I never worked in a brigade before. I had no idea what brigade meant. I also never really worked line. So that was really fun.
It was a new experience and I was so excited to experience it all! It was a a ton of fun. I think that’s probably what I’ll miss most are the dinner services and stuff like that.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: Thanks Brynn!
BRYNN GIBSON: Thank you!
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