The next season of Gordon Ramsay’s cooking competition show Hell’s Kitchen will feature its first vegan chef, Josie Clemens. The Michigan-born chef explained that her connection with Ramsay began on social media after she tweeted “When are you going vegan, mate?” at him, sparking Ramsay to follow Clemens on Twitter. Clemens will compete against 18 other contestants in Las Vegas, NV, enduring brutal criticism from Ramsay for a chance to win a spot as a chef at one of Ramsay’s restaurants and a $250,000 cash prize.

“The thing that I am most excited about for this show is that 6 million people are going to watch it and they’re 6 million people who usually watch a meat cooking show and this is a big seed about veganism being planted in mainstream consciousness,” Clemens said on Instagram. “So this could be the very first time people end up hearing about veganism.” 

The 20th season of Hell’s Kitchen will premiere on May 31 on FOX and is themed “Young Guns,” meaning it will feature chefs who are in their early twenties and bring a young energy to the show. “This has to be one of the most exciting seasons ever,” Ramsay said. 

Gordon Ramsay warms up to vegans

While Ramsay previously made veganism the butt of many jokes—once stating that he was allergic to vegans—in the last few years, the chef began changing his tune to take advantage of the lucrative and growing plant-based industry. In 2018, Ramsay first ventured into vegan territory. “Going to give this #vegan thing a try,” Ramsay tweeted alongside a photograph of the vegan Charred Aubergine Pizza—which features charred eggplant, toasted pine nuts, tomato, and garlic pesto—he added to his Gordon Ramsay Street Pizza restaurant in London. 

After receiving positive responses from fans about the vegan dish, the chef continued to experiment with plant-based cooking. In January 2019, Ramsay kicked off the new year with a full plant-based Veganuary menu at the same restaurant, which is now called Bread Street Kitchen. The varied vegan menu included pumpkin soup dotted with truffle oil, a superfood salad, risotto made with wild mushrooms, eggplant-topped pizza, and a selection of desserts ranging from chocolate avocado mousse to banana-based ice cream. 

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In the months that followed, Ramsay continued the hot vegan streak with new dishes, including a Beet Wellington that nearly broke the internet and a nut-based vegan Sunday Roast with all the trimmings and the Impossible Burger (which he added to the Bread Street Kitchen location in Singapore). 

And when he wasn’t concocting new vegan dishes at his restaurants, Ramsay was defending veganism against new trolls, namely Piers Morgan—former host of Good Morning Britain who made a fiery exit from the morning show earlier this year. When Ramsay shared a photo of his vegan Sunday Roast on Twitter, Morgan commented, “Oh, for f*ck’s sake, Ramsay … not you, as well? This looks utterly revolting.” Ramsay went onto the Late Late Show with James Cordon to defend his choice to embrace veganism, despite previously being a critic of plant-based living, and had some choice words for Morgan. “So, Piers Morgan is now a food critic? Go and f*uck yourself,” Ramsay said. “Here’s the thing … veganism is on the rise and we ought to adapt and yeah, eat a slice of humble pie.”

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