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Food in Pop Culture

Kiss Her Grits: Nona Sivley Wins Season 8 of Hell's Kitchen, Will Become Head Chef at LA Market

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Thu, Dec 16, 2010 at 7:16 AM

Hell's Kitchen, Season 8 Finale: Nona Sivley waits for the final moment

After the most combative season of what was already the screamiest cooking reality show around, Atlanta chef Nona Sivley took home the top prize, beating out Russell Kook to win season 8 of "Hell's Kitchen."

Foul-mouthed in the kitchen (what chef isn't?) but gracious in victory, Sivley praised her opponent, Kook, saying he gets a bad rap on the show but is a great guy in person.

She starts her new gig, as head chef of LA Market at LA Live in downtown Los Angeles, in early January, where she'll be working with Kerry Simon and his executive chef Eric Branger, perhaps adding some Southern flair to the menu.

Hell's Kitchen, Season 8 Finale: Nona Sivley & Russell Kook

"I'd like to introduce L.A. to the South a little," Sivley says. "I'd like to let them know what grits are really about."

Developing new menu items at a hotel restaurant like LA Market is a collaborative process, not the work of a lone chef sweating behind a six-burner, 18,500 BTU Viking range. Less Vincent Van Gogh, more focus group.

With his background in upscale comfort food, Simon expects Sivley's Southern cooking to mesh well with the food at LA Market.

Though he admits the choice between Sivley and Kook was a close one, so close Simon wasn't totally sure he had made the right decision, he's confident it will work out.

"I'm a big believer in fate," Simon says. "If you can get through the leaps and bounds that Gordon [Ramsay] puts up, you'll do well." And there's bound to be less screaming -- or not.

Hell's Kitchen, Season 8 Finale: Nona Sivley after her win

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