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Former Fort Worth woman is queen of the kitchen

Posted 8:44am on Thursday, Dec. 16, 2010

Former Fort Worth resident Nona Sivley has won the Fox competition show Hell's Kitchen, adding to the number of reality-show wins by contestants with North Texas connections.

"I fought and I fought and I fought," Sivley said after host Gordon Ramsay announced her win in Wednesday's finale, which aired on KDFW/Channel 4. "This was a huge sacrifice, missing my son's first birthday, missing his first steps. It's absolutely worth it to make his life better."

Sivley, a 2008 graduate of the Culinary School of Fort Worth, worked as a sous-chef in the Atlanta area when filming began. With the win, she will now go on to be head chef at L.A. Market at the J.W. Marriott Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.

In the finale, Sivley went head to head with Russell Kook, a sous-chef from Madison, Wis., who had gained a reputation for consistency -- and cockiness -- during the show's eighth season. Sivley, on the other hand, steadily improved as the season went on, impressing Ramsay -- who also acts as a judge on the show -- with her strong palate and kitchen skills.

The finale began with a challenge in which Sivley and Kook each had to prepare a five-course meal, and then have each course judged by a noteworthy figure from the Los Angeles food community, including L.A. Market owner Kerry Simon. Kook won that challenge, with the judges picking three of his dishes over two of Sivley's.

But in the dinner service that climaxes each Hell's Kitchen episode, Kook had to deal with that reality-show convention -- the former contestants who come back to help the finalists finish their final task.

Many of this season's contestants really didn't get along with one another, but when the finalists chose teams consisting of the former contestants, Kook picked the grudge-holding Vinny Accardi Jr., who was resentful over what he saw as Kook's role in his early elimination.

Kook's team eventually jelled, however, as did Sivley's, which had its own dysfunctional moments, common on this show, which is heavy on cursing and bleeped words, much of it coming from Ramsay himself. But the comment cards from the customers in the Hell's Kitchen "restaurant" gave Sivley the edge. In keeping with the show's tenor, Kook immediately blamed his loss on his team.

"You will never get a job in any city I work," Kook said, referring to his teammates while talking to the camera.

"I will definitely blackball you guys."

Robert Philpot, 817-390-7872

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