Hell’s Kitchen Freezes Over: Ja’Nel Witt will not Join Gordon Ramsay’s Pub & Grill in Las Vegas
Hell’s Kitchen Freezes Over: Chef Ja’Nel will not Join Gordon Ramsay’s Pub & Grill in Las Vegas
By: Waqas Syed August 23rd, 2013 - Updates at bottom
Say it isn’t so! From Fox on Twitter:
“@HellsKitchenFOX wishing @JaNelHK11 all the best! Life throws you curveballs sometimes. How u handle them defines who you are. From @itvstudios: “The team at “Hell’s Kitchen” was incredibly excited about Ja’Nel Witt’s season win, and her opportunity to move in to a head chef position at Gordon Ramsay Pub&Grill in Vegas. Recent unforeseen personal circumstances will now unfortunately prevent her from accepting the position, which is a huge disappointment for Ja’Nel and all of us. She’s an incredible talent, and we all wish her much success with the next chapter of her career.”
An official statement from Fox and ITV Studios who are behind Gordon Ramsay’s hit cooking competition, “Hell’s Kitchen” have released a statement via Twitter that is shocking to say the least. Ja’Nel Witt, the talented and composed chef who won Season 11 of Hell’s Kitchen will not take the Head Chef position in Las Vegas at Gordon Ramsay’s Pub and Grill in Caesars Palace.
At this point the actual circumstances surrounding this announcement are unclear.
All we can do now is wait and see what really transpired, where she is now and what she will do next.
However, we can take this time to remember the amazing chef who we have grown to love!
Chef Ja’Nel’s best moments on Hell’s Kitchen showcased her unwavering confidence, talent as a chef, on-air charisma and of course her beauty. These all were most clearly displayed when she won the finale by gracefully serving a dish of beef cheeks even though the team she assembled did not agree with her choice. She handled the pressure, delivered on expectations and looked good doing it!
It’s this sort of confidence and talent in the face of uncertainty that makes me feel she will continue to find success as a chef. And of course being an adopted native Houstonian, we will welcome her back with open arms because the culinary scene here is on the rise, as opposed to many other markets that have topped out.
In the meantime, I will leave you with a throw back YouTube clip of Chef Ja’Nel from Hell’s Kitchen.
The video cannot be shown at the moment. Please try again later.
[Updated at 5:11 pm: The internet is buzzing with news of Season 11 Hell’s Kitchen winner Ja’Nel Witt not taking the job at Gordon Ramsay’s Pub & Grill in Las Vegas. The LA Times Reports:
“A “Hell’s Kitchen” spokeswoman declined to elaborate, but we did learn this much. Fox says the job will NOT go to runner-up Mary Poehnelt, a butcher from Massachusetts. That might not sit well with fans of the show, who watched Poehnelt transform from — in her words — Mary the Butcher to Mary the Chef.” (source)
While TMZ and others are just as much in the dark as everyone else.
Ja’Nel tweeted her own statement earlier with the following:
“I would like to express my sincerest thanks to HELL’S KITCHEN, Gordon Ramsay, Caesars Palace & my supportive fans for this amazing experience. Due to personal matters, I will not be joining the team in Las Vegas, but I wish them continued success. This has been an incredible journey. I am thankful for everyone who made it possible and I am looking forward to my next cooking chapter.” (source)
Two other papers quote having seen seen Ja’Nel working at a Ramen contest at IKEA:
“As early as last night Witt was seen cooking in an Ikea ramen contest in Houston, where she confirmed that she would start her job at Gordon Ramsay Pub on Monday.” (source)
“It’s a shocking turn of events. At last night’s Great Ramen Challenge, Witt told CultureMap that, although she’s still in “the process of moving,” she would “start (her new job) as soon as I finish orientation, which is scheduled for Monday.”
But less than 24 hours later, Witt took to Twitter to thank ”HELL’S KITCHEN,Gordon Ramsay,Caesars Palace & my supportive fans for this amazing experience” but confirmed she would not be joining the team.” (source)
Based on the review of the event, you can see Chef Ja’Nel listed as one of the celebrity judges. Click here to see the event review.
Now the question is, what happened and will we ever find out?
[Updated at 7:23 pm CST: TMZ is now reporting that Ja’Nel Witt will not be taking the Head Chef job at Gordon Ramsay’s Pub & Grill in Las Vegas because she has failed an employment drug test. Here is what they had to say:
“Sources extremely familiar with the situation tell us … Caesars Palace required Witt to submit to a drug test in order to take the job as head chef at the Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill, the position she earned after winning Season 11 of “Hell’s Kitchen” earlier this year.” (source)
The obvious question that comes to mind is who are these “extremely familiar…” sources? At this point no one official has validated this claim by TMZ. And TMZ is known to have gotten the facts wrong in the past.
Frank Miller of Forbe’s called out TMZ regarding an incident involving Donald Trump Jr. hunting elephants. Here is what Miller had to say:
“First, the media fallout: Somehow TMZ, a celebrity scandalmonger website, obtained photos (even the Trumps don’t know how they got them) of Donald Trump Sr.’s two sons, 34-year-old Donald and 28-year-old Eric, on an African safari posing with that dead elephant as well as a leopard, crocodile, Cape buffalo and more.
TMZ ran the photos with a quote calling the Trump boys “pitiful bloodthirsty morons.”
TMZ also quoted Jack Carone, from the animal-rights group In Defense of Animals, saying, “Privilege has clearly not bought them the sensitivity or wisdom to view the world as anything but their personal playground, including the imagined entitlement to end the lives of sensitive and social animals for mere amusement.”
First, what was with that elephant tail? Donald Jr. told me that TMZ didn’t report that Africans traditionally cut off the tail and make bracelets from the tail hair. TMZ didn’t seem to know—again, because they didn’t do any reporting—that Africans do this as a sign of respect for the fallen animal. And they didn’t report that elephants are over-populated in the area the Trumps hunted and so need to be hunted to prevent them from further destroying their habitat. They didn’t mention that when elephants overpopulate they literally rip down the forest. They didn’t note—and any conservation group could have told them this—the result of an overpopulated elephant herd is death by starvation and disease. Nor did they did contact the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority to find out that hunting is managed scientifically to benefit all species and the ecosystem. (source)
At this point, TMZ is acting like the pyro-maniac who sets fire to dry brush and then watches it from afar to see the forest catch on fire. If the rumor is true, then the forest may burn.
But, at this point this is a complete rumor based on a source no one knows. You would think anyone officially associated with Ja’Nel Witt and the Hell’s Kitchen production team wouldn’t be careless enough to risk a multi-million dollar lawsuit or her career by leaking such highly confidential information.
If they did, then a whole lot more than a forest is going down.
[Updated at 8:58 pm CST: Ja’Nel Witt has released a second statement via her Twitter account @janelhk11. In it she address or “does not address” the rumors surrounding her sudden departure from Gordon Ramsay’s Pub & Grill in Las Vegas. Here is her tweet:
Thank you for the kind words, and the rumors are very entertaining, but I won’t address the negativity or ridiculous headlines #celebstatus
— Ja’Nel Witt (@JaNelHK11) August 23, 2013
In true Ja’Nel Witt fashion, she is handling this media circus in the same calm, cool manner that led her to win Season 11 of Hell’s Kitchen.
[Updated at 11:02 pm CST: Discussions with sources close to Ja’Nel Witt have revealed that at the time of publishing; the TMZ article claiming Ja’Nel Witt’s release from Gordon Ramsay’s Pub & Grill was due to a failed drug test could not have been stated by anyone other than the most senior leadership at Caesars Palace, Fox TV or ITV Studios. In fact the contract which maintains the details of the agreement between Ja’Nel Witt and the three parties has yet to be received by the Caesars Palace legal team. Therefore, any disclosure even remotely relevant to that agreement between all parties involved would allude to a breach of confidentiality which has led to a severe blow to Ja’Nel’s brand & reputation.
At the moment, the facts of the matter are no official entity associated with Hell’s Kitchen has made any claims about how much Ja’Nel Witt is to receive and why she will not join Gordon Ramsay’s Pub & Grill for any other reason than “personal”.
Speculation has gone as far as her being pregnant, had an inappropriate relationship with Gordon Ramsay, secretly sabotaged by Hell’s Kitchen Season 11 runner-up Mary Poehnelt and the now irritatingly viral TMZ article about failing a drug test.
What is clear, if indeed someone from within either of those organizations has released this information; then employment laws have been broken. We can now only assume this is simply the beginning of a bigger scandal involving major players in the food & entertainment business.
[Updated 8/24/2013 at 12:59 pm CST: We will most likely have to wait until the beginning of next week for any official word from Caesars Palace, ITV Studios, Fox TV or Ja’Nel Witt. In the mean-time, I now ask the question. Is the damage being done to Ja’Nel Witt’s reputation and brand by predatory gossip right? Does she deserve the racial slurs, the hateful messages and baseless accusations?
After all another celebrity chef, Paula Deen was just acquitted of any racial discrimination. But that was well after she lost millions of dollars.
Does anyone deserve to be a victim of predatory gossip? Read my commentary here: http://www.aliefpost.com/2013/08/janel-witt-tmz-and-savagery-in-america/