Area resident to compete on ‘Hell’s Kitchen’: ‘I came home a different person’

Credit: Jessica Williford/JessicaTWphotography LLC

Credit: Jessica Williford/JessicaTWphotography LLC

Mindy Shea, an executive chef from Carlisle living in West Chester, is competing on Season 21 of “Hell’s Kitchen” Battle of the Ages, premiering Thursday, Sept. 29 on FOX.

Looking back on where she was two years ago, she told she never would have thought she would be on the show.

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, Shea had worked in the healthcare field for 15 years. Her last five years were spent in a position that she described as “HR for doctors” at Kettering Medical Center.

Credit: Submitted Photo

Credit: Submitted Photo

“The goal for me was to go off, get a big fancy degree and have a big corner office in a city and live this whole other life,” Shea said.

Despite her love for cooking, Shea said she knew being a chef wasn’t easy and the pay was low.

“I went ahead and decided to pursue money verses passion,” Shea said.

However, her love of cooking never fizzled. While working at Kettering Medical Center she did meal prep for friends and family on the side. It wasn’t until the pandemic hit and her hours were cut that she decided to make the leap and do something with her passion.

She explained she started a home meal delivery service full-time and it “blew up.” The meals came vacuumed sealed and customers could freeze them or cook them right away. Shea said when restaurants started reopening, her delivery service slowed down. She then went into the restaurant industry as a chef de cuisine at Cozy’s, an upscale restaurant in Liberty Township. She said her position was similar to Chef Gordon Ramsay’s duties on “Hell’s Kitchen.”

In June 2021, she saw an advertisement for “Hell’s Kitchen.” She decided to apply and created a video. She said she didn’t think they would choose her to be on the show, but next thing she knew she was doing an audition via Zoom.

“Right before Christmas they asked me to be on the show and I was to pack up within a week and head to Los Angeles,” Shea said.

Credit: Submitted Photo

Credit: Submitted Photo

She explained she spent her first two weeks in Los Angeles in quarantine and used the time to study and learn everything she could before filming began.

“It was hectic, exciting and I felt like I was on a roller coaster,” Shea said. “You would be up on this high because something really good would happen and then all of a sudden, you wiped your face and got in trouble.”

She said all the chefs on the show really connected. She’ll always remember the “incredibly strong mentorships and friendships” formed.

What people see on TV is true to what actually happens, Shea explained. They are completing services, getting yelled at and being rewarded for winning challenges, all while competing for a head chef position at Gordon Ramsay Steak at Paris Las Vegas and the title of “Hell’s Kitchen” winner.

Shea said the three main chefs, Ramsay, Christina Wilson and Jason Santos, really want the contestants to do well.

“Chef Ramsay wants you to succeed,” Shea noted. “He’s so passionate and determined that it’s almost hard to believe you’re standing there talking to the man.”

She said she learned as much as she could and gained a newfound boost of confidence.

“I think I came home a different person,” Shea said. “I am so much more confident now and I feel like you can throw anything in front of me.”

Credit: Jessica Williford/JessicaTWphotography LLC

Credit: Jessica Williford/JessicaTWphotography LLC

After she finished filming the show, she said she has “all these ideas, but I really, really like the life I am in now. It’s my best life.”

Shea said she has started writing a recipe book and plans to continue teaching others how to cook via social media.

“I’m just incredibly excited to be able to share this experience with my hometown and my family here in the tri-state,” Shea said. “It’s super exciting to show people if you go after your dreams, good things will happen for you.”

For more information about Shea, visit or her Instagram, Facebook or TikTok pages. “Hell’s Kitchen” can also be streamed on Hulu.

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