Meet Hell’s Kitchen Winner Ryan O’Sullivan

Local Chef Ryan O’Sullivan cooked his way to fame on TV, emerging victorious in January as the winner of Hell’s Kitchen

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O’Sullivan prepares a meal in the kitchen at Solstice. Photo by Jerry Rabinowitz
O’Sullivan prepares a meal in the kitchen at Solstice. Photo by Jerry Rabinowitz

In October 2020, Ryan O’Sullivan received a message on Instagram: I love your page. You’ve got pretty food, blue eyes, and an Irish flag on your profile. It wasn’t from a secret admirer or a bot—it was from a Los Angeles–based agent, who was casting season 22 of the Fox television competition show Hell’s Kitchen.

When he learned he was being offered a spot on the popular show starring Gordon Ramsay, O’Sullivan walked to his favorite local pub, Paddy Mac’s in Palm Beach Gardens. “Give me two Guinness and a whiskey,” he told the bartender in his charming Irish accent. 

Soon he was on a flight to Hollywood to begin taping the show, where he would compete against 17 other chef contestants to win Chef Ramsay’s approval. He recalls preparing his first dish for Ramsay. He had only one thing on his mind: “Just cook a good dish and don’t go home first.” 

He made a veal tenderloin with heirloom carrot puree, baby turnips, and rosemary jus—and it was more than good. In fact, Ramsay called it “one of the best dishes I’ve ever had on Hell’s Kitchen.” Aware that O’Sullivan had been watching the show with his father since he was a kid, Ramsay added: “I wish your dad were here to taste it. It’s delicious.” O’Sullivan cooked his way to the final round and ultimately was named the winner of season 22.  

Growing up in Cork, Ireland, O’Sullivan has always loved the art of cooking, preferring cooking shows over Nickelodeon. “My father is a chef, and his grandfather was a chef,” says 30-year-old O’Sullivan, who now resides in Palm Beach Gardens. “We used to hunt and go fishing a lot. We’d take what we caught home, and my dad would show me how to clean and prepare it.” 

Chef Ryan O’Sullivan at The Country Club at Mirasol, where he leads the kitchen at Solstice. Photo by Jerry Rabinowitz
Chef Ryan O’Sullivan at The Country Club at Mirasol, where he leads the kitchen at Solstice. Photo by Jerry Rabinowitz

After graduating from Cork Institute of Technology in 2012 with a culinary arts degree, he enjoyed a three-month holiday in California before returning to Ireland to focus on his professional career. He joined The River Lee hotel in Cork as a junior chef and worked his way up the ranks in the kitchen.  

In 2017, a U.S. recruiter contacted him about opportunities in Florida, and he accepted a line cook job at Admiral’s Cove in Jupiter. Recalls O’Sullivan of his decision to move stateside: “[The recruiter] showed me photos of the clubhouse and I was like, hold on—you can drive your boat up to the back of your house from the ocean?” He was sold. The following season, he began working at The Country Club at Mirasol in Palm Beach Gardens during season and spent the summers working in Martha’s Vineyard. Then he received that fateful Instagram message.

Chef Ryan says his experience on Hell’s Kitchen taught him a lifelong lesson: “Don’t drop your standards for anybody, no matter what. If you let people serve your food wrong, it’s taking away from you.” He implements those standards today as Chef de Cuisine at Solstice, Mirasol’s elegant fine dining restaurant, while waiting to see what’s next. A career in Hollywood isn’t off the table…. “If I have an opportunity to, I would love to stay on TV,” he says.

Most memorable show moment: “Chef Ramsay’s reaction to my first dish. He was blown away by it, and I could tell it was a legit reaction.”

Biggest mistake: “In the ‘black jacket’ round, I ended up choosing the wrong ingredients for a dish. I told Chef Ramsay, ‘I would much rather smash this off the wall than give it to you.’”

Fiercest competitor: “Johnny [Benvenuti]. We formed such a strong friendship. I would have been just as happy to see him win.” 

On Gordon Ramsay: “He’s everything you want in a chef—driven, passionate…
He wants to teach, but he also wants to learn. And he’s a really, really nice guy.”

Favorite spot to dine locally: “Home. My wife, Jennifer, is a fantastic cook!”

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