On the Fox Network hit series Hell’s Kitchen, Joy Parham-Thomas ’10 cooked her way onto the first ever Hell’s Kitchen calendar. Joy is an alumna of the IUP Academy of Culinary Arts.
The last seven contestants on Hell’s Kitchen were given a challenge to present a dish to Chef Gordon Ramsey and three Hell’s Kitchen alumni chefs. The alumni, along with Ramsey, judged the dishes and rated them on a scale of 1 to 5. The winner would earn the honor of having their dish as the featured recipe for the month of December on the show’s first calendar.
Joy presented seared duck breast over seasoned polenta with oven roasted figs and mushrooms and a blackberry reduction. Joy accompanied the dish with swiss chard.
The judges concurred that the dish was aesthetically pleasing and the flavors were well balanced. All of the alumni judges gave the dish a perfect score of 5 points out of 5, and Chef Ramsey gave the dish 4 points out of 5. Chef Ramsey described the dish as delicious (higher praise than he gave any other contestant). Joy received the top score of 19 points; her closest competitor received a score of 13.
After winning the challenge, Joy also earned protection from the possibility of being eliminated from that night’s episode and had the chance to enjoy lunch with the alumni judges. Joy commented that receiving insight from the alumni during lunch gave her inspiration to continue on with the rigorous competition.
Joy has been a contestant in season 12 since its premier in March of 2014. The show began with 20 competitors. Joy has endured through each round and is one of six contestants still remaining as of the latest episode, which aired on June 26, 2014.