Into the fire

SCCC grad takes a shot at 'Hell's Kitchen' challenge

If something's called Hell's Kitchen, you wouldn't expect to find people vying to get into it. But Melissa Doney, a 2003 Schenectady County Community College graduate in culinary arts and executive sous chief at Fort William Henry in Lake George, has her reasons.

Doney is a contestant on the current season of Hell's Kitchen, which features Chef Gordon Ramsay putting aspiring restaurateurs through intense culinary trials as they prepare dishes for his restaurant Hell's Kitchen in Los Angeles.

"I really wanted to be on "Hell's Kitchen" to put myself out there and challenge myself as a chef and show people what I can do," said Doney. "It is an amazing feeling, I'm so excited to have the opportunity."

More than 50,000 people applied to be on the show, and only 16 were selected. The show began airing Wednesday, Sept. 22, at 8 p.m. on FOX and was filmed over six weeks, starting in February of this year. The winner receives a coveted black chef's jacket, $250,000 and the position of head chef at LA Market in Los Angeles.

For Doney, the journey started in September 2009 when she filled out an online application for the show. The following day she received a phone call from the casting agency. Three days later she went down to New York City to do an on-camera interview.

She said her fiancE Phil Sheridan urged her to apply for the show and gave her the push she needed.

"He got sick of me watching these culinary competition shows and wanted me to put my money where my mouth is," said Doney.

She credited SCCC for preparing her mentally for the food industry and her experience on the show. One of her college experiences she cited was working at the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes.

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