Hot flames and high tempers are nothing new on Hell's Kitchen. But this season, it's not just Gordon Ramsay who is turning up the heat.
The sixth-season premiere of the Fox series (Tuesday at 8/7 CT) features a crop of 16 aspiring chefs, and a handful of them don't show any sign of intimidation. In fact, one contestant whose attitude is more pro wrestler than gourmet chef even asks Ramsay if he'd like to step outside to handle their disagreement.
Ramsay said he encourages that kind of confidence, as long as the culinary skills back it up.
"When you have the arrogance and you can't cook, then you're only going to look stupid," he said. "I suppose they've watched the show and they think they want to come in with bravado, but I always say [to] let your food do the talking."
The cook whose food talks the loudest this season will earn $250,000 and a job as head chef at the Araxi Restaurant in Whistler, British Columbia. Since all of the produce used by Araxi is grown within 100 miles of the restaurant, Ramsay deems it a unique place for any chef to hone his or her craft.
"That's a dream come true for any chef," he said. "[It's great] for a young winner to be in that position and to learn and respect what it's like to use things only when they're available, as opposed to have a fascination with fresh ingredients that can be obtained from all around the world."
Another added bonus to the Araxi job: Whistler will host the 2010 Winter Olympics.
With such a prize on the line, Ramsay said he has raised the bar at Hell's Kitchen. And despite the bevy of boneheaded moves made by the cooks in the premiere, Ramsay promises that the overall skill level "is far greater" this time around.
"We've been a lot more creative in terms of the challenges, and entered in a few twists and turns that are completely different [this season]," he said. "This year is going to be very interesting."
Will you be watching Hell's Kitchen this season?