When the 16th season of Chef Gordon Ramsay’s ‘’Hell’s Kitchen’’ premieres on Sept. 23 (Fox at 8), one of Long Island’s own, Shaina Hayden of Hempstead, will be among the 18 contestants competing for a chance to win the grand prize, the head chef position at Ramsay’s Yardbird Southern Table & Bar at The Venetian in Las Vegas.
Hempstead born and raised, Hayden is the founder of Say Your Grace, a catering business that, through its eponymous name, encourages gratitude, not only prior to meals, but at all times.
The youngest in a large family, Hayden was drawn to the kitchen, but like many her age, lacked direction in her high school years. After graduating from Hempstead High School, Hayden worked in several restaurants, still trying to find her path in the industry. A friend suggested that she look into the culinary program at Star Career Academy in Syosset. It was there that she found her niche. “ I never ever wanted to miss classes. I knew I was in the right place,” Hayden said.
The 30-year-old mother of three young girls, whose maiden name is Kitchener (ironic? divine?), is not only a dynamo in the kitchen, but is also a mover and shaker in the choir at Mount Horeb Baptist Church in Corona, Queens, where she plays the drums, and sometimes the organ or bass guitar, every Sunday.
If anyone has the mettle to go up against Ramsay’s hellish culinary challenges, it is this spiritually grounded, musically versatile, and culinarily confident chef. A woman of her word, Hayden would not give the slightest hint as to how the already-taped 16th season winds up. “All I will say is that it was literally blood, sweat, and tears, and the hardest, yet most gratifying thing I have ever done.”
If you want to show your support for Hayden, and cheer into week two of Ramsay’s take-no-prisoners competition, Tropix on The Mile, on Freeport’s Nautical Mile, is hosting a premiere party, beginning at 7 p.m. Friday. This event will feature a DJ, plenty of large-screen televisions and, among the evening’s specials will be Hayden’s signature dish, Salmon Wellington — fresh tarragon and garlic marinated salmon with a Parmesan mushroom stuffing, wrapped in a flaky butter pastry ($26).
Tropix on The Mile, 395 Woodcleft Ave., Freeport, 516-623-8767