Hell’s Kitchen Winner Ariel Malone
Culinary Skills and Vibrant Personality Unveiled at BLT Steak
After being crowned the winner of Hell’s Kitchen season 15, Ariel Malone was awarded a head chef position at BLT Steak at Bally’s Las Vegas and $250,000. A week later, on May 9, she began working under the supervision of the restaurant’s chef de Cuisine Derek Gigliotti. On July 15, after a couple months to settle in, the 27-year-old country club chef from Hackensack, N.J. was unveiled to media with a four-course wine pairing experience featuring some signature BLT Steak menu items along with some created by Chef Ariel.
We began with seared scallop with black bean puree and summer corn salsa—a dish Chef said was inspired by her Hell’s Kitchen experience—and a grilled double cut smoked bacon with garlic and sherry, both of which were paired with Laetitia, Sparkling Rose, Arroyo Grande, Brut MV.
Next up was cucumber tomato salad, grilled asparagus salad and goat cheese wild mushroom tartelette with a soy truffle vinagrette paired with Weingut Stadt Krems, Gruner Veltliner, Kremstal, 2013. Of this course Chef Ariel said, “Growing up in ‘The Garden State’ of New Jersey, I love tomato and my little sister is vegan, so I like using fresh ingredients such as asparagus and red oak lettuce.”
The entrée course, which was paired with Torres, Garnacha, 5G, Campo de Borja, 2014 and Lioco, Chardonnay, Estero, Russian River Valley, 2012, included a choice of Prime hangar steak, a dish Chef won with in the competition. Chef said, “The first time I tried hangar steak I cried because it was the meatiest and juiciest. It’s also called butcher steak because butchers would take it home for themselves.” One of the other entrées was grilled salmon with a mustard dill sauce that Chef Ariel said “came from my grandmother who came to America via Ellis Island.”
The dinner’s dessert finale was Meyer lemon cheesecake paired with Prunotto, Moscato d’Asti, Piedmonte, 2012 and peanut butter mousse, paired with Croft, Port, Special Reserve Tawny, NV, of which Chef said, “I like tangy stuff and voluptuous peanut butter and chocolate.”
Both her delightful personality and outstanding culinary skills were on display as Chef Ariel explained each dish and mingled with guests answering questions and talking about her menu creations and philosophy of cooking. A very apropos statement Chef made when introduced was, “My food speaks a lot about me: bold and colorful.” If this dinner is any indication of the quality of Chef Ariel Malone’s talents, we can expect many of the viewers that followed her on her Hell’s Kitchen journey to begin making plans to travel to Las Vegas to visit BLT Steak and seek out her culinary excellence and meet the chef they cheered on to win.