Alexandria, VA – Declan Horgan, a former chef in Alexandria, is competing in the upcoming season of Hell’s Kitchen. This newest season will air on January 7th on Fox.
Hailing from Ireland, Declan is the first European to compete in the iconic cooking competition. When he came to America from Dublin City, Declan soon found himself as the executive head chef at Daniel O’Connell’s Irish Restaurant in Alexandria. “Alexandria is so old-worldly,” he says. “It’s beautiful. The history of the buildings, everything is getting restored. It’s an outstanding place. It’s gorgeous.”
For Declan, this was an important stepping stone into his culinary career in America. In search of a larger audience, Declan reached out to Hell’s Kitchen. “I gave them my spiel and they loved it, so they put me on the show,” he says.
It might be hard to believe Declan is the first European to compete on Hell’s Kitchen. Gordon Ramsay thought the same thing. “Well, what took you so long?” Ramsay asked Declan about his decision to try out for the show.
Having trained in Paris and now America, combined with his knowledge of classical Irish dishes, Declan has developed a vast culinary skillset. “I’m hoping to take old, classical, Irish dishes and revamp them and make them more modern,” explains Declan. Some of these creations might even make appearances on the upcoming Hell’s Kitchen season.
“I love being a chef for the creative side of it,” says Declan. There is no doubt he is making his fellow Europeans and Alexandrians proud with his contestable creations.
As one of the most popular cooking shows of its generation, Hell’s Kitchen promises intense heat and pressure, allowing no room for mistakes. “This was the wildest thing I’ve ever done,” says Declan. Filmed in March 2019, this season of Hell’s Kitchen has already been released in other parts of the world, so Declan’s friends and family have already gotten to witness his talents being put to the test.
The intensity of Hell’s Kitchen was made well worth it by the relationships Declan built with people both on the show and around the world.
Declan maintains relationships with some of the contestants and executives on the show. “We all talk and we are all best friends,” Declan notes. The contestants reminisce about their shared experiences and Declan is sure there will be memes made about some of the stuff he has said.
In addition to friendships he coined on the show, Declan receives messages from people all around the world who have watched the show. This is validating for him and helps him stay positive, especially during such turbulent times, particularly for the restaurant industry.
“I see small mom and pop places going out of business and an influx of new restauranteurs buying up places. There is going to be a smaller style of restaurant and the ambiance will be sterile until there is a full vaccine. I know we won’t have the full entertainment value of a restaurant anymore.”
While this appears to be true, restaurant owners and chefs are finding new ways to innovate, entertain, and create for their patrons. This has been a year of changes, some out of necessity, some out of choice. Change can bring new experiences, and with those experiences, big things can happen.
Big things are certainly happening for Declan Horgan. Be on the lookout for more of him in the future.