Michael Wray was a contestant on Season 1 of Hell's Kitchen. He began on the blue team, but eventually switched to the red team. He was the winner of that season, and was given the opportunity to move to London to work under Ramsay and learn from him, which he accepted. However, he later declined due to family reasons. So, he was given his own restaurant in Los Angeles, called Tatou, where he works as an executive chef.
Michael was very nice and helpful towards his teammates, and a quiet leader. But, he was also very competitive, manipulative and strategic. His strategies led him to become the first winner of Hell's Kitchen.
Season 1 Edit
Michael was the eleventh contestant to have his Signature Dish judged by Ramsay. He served scallops with a quail egg, and left the roe on the scallops, and when he was asked by Ramsay if he was liking it, he started mumbling and did not know what to answer. So, Ramsay invited him to taste his dish with him, and when he told Ramsay that it was not bad, Ramsay answered by insulting his pallet and telling him that his dish was disgusting. After the challenge, he was placed in the blue team, along with Ralph, Wendy, Andrew, Mary Ellen, and Jessica.
During dinner service, Michael was on the appetizer station. After one hour, he ran out of lobster spaghetti, and when he told Ramsay about it, Ramsay asked him if they still have live lobsters and pasta. When Michael answered that they did, Ramsay told there was no reason to take it out of the menu. After a lot of struggle in both kitchens, Ramsay decided to shut them down. His team was declared winner, but Ramsay added by clarifying that they did not win, and that they were just safe.
After a brutal wake up call the next morning, all the contestants were told to get down to the dining room, where Ramsay explained the next challenge, which was the Cleaning Squid Challenge. Before the challenge, Ramsay asked Michael if he ever cleaned squid before. When Michael said he did, he was forced to sit out to even the teams at 5 members each, although he did help his teammates by giving them instructions on how to clean squids. His team lost the challenge 5-6. Their punishment was to prep the remaining squids for the next dinner service.
As their second part of the punishment, the blue team cooked without air conditioning during dinner service, where Michael was on the fish station. When Sous Chef Scott informed the team that it was 140 degrees right now, Michael made a comment on how hot it was. Ramsay then chewed him out, saying he does not need a drama queen, and reminding him that if the blue team have won the challenge, he would not have to cook without air conditioning. Despite the heat, his team was declared the winners after serving more entrées.
Before the next challenge, Ramsay switched Michael over to the red team to even up the teams 5-5. He also suggested to Michael that this could be a good opportunity for him to start acting like a leader as the red team would benefit well from this.
During the 5 Course Meal Challenge, Michael became a clear leader very quickly in the red kitchen. He served a grilled pork ass as the meat entrée. When Ramsay saw that he carved the Hell's Kitchen logo in a mushroom garnish, he called him a "smartass", which everybody else laughed about, and joked that he might have this tattooed on his butt. Ramsay found it delicious, and it scored a point of the red team. Because his team won the challenge after a tie-breaker at 3, he was rewarded with a night out with Ramsay at the bar. It was Michael's first challenge win, and became the only contestant to have an even record of wins to losses in challenges, at 1-1.
During prep, Jeff left a hot sheet on the counter and Elsie picked it up and burned her hand. This results in a discussion in the red team, during the short break, if they would be better without him. Moments before opening, Michael helped Jeff, who was struggling to prep his station.
During dinner service, Michael was on the appetizer station with Jeff. He helped him, who was struggling, when two uneven lobster spaghetti dishes came to the pass. One dish had no lobster, the other had too much. When Michael's crab risotto made it to the critics that were in the dining room, it received poor reviews. After Jeff walked out of Hell's Kitchen, he took the meat station over and started completing the orders for the red team, and his lamb received great reviews from the critics. But, their effort was not enough as tables walked out, unfed, and Ramsay shut down both kitchens. His team won the dinner service because his lamb impressed the critics more than the blue team's. This was the red team's first dinner service win, and Michael's third overall.
Following Jeff's departure, Michael and the red team celebrated back to the dorms. They were relieved because Jeff was more of a problem than helping, and not having him around was what gave the red team their first service win.
Michael and the red team lost the Perfect Table Challenge, as they made four mistakes, compared to the blue team's one. So, they had to clean and polish all the glassware and tableware of the restaurant for the next dinner service.
30 minutes before service, because the red team lost the challenge, Michael and his team had to arrange all the tables in the dining room, which made the team lose valuable time of prep.
During dinner service, Michael was on the fish station. Later, the red team continued to send out main courses by showing great teamwork, and Michael, with Chris, congratulated Elsie for her good job on the meat station. The red team's great teamwork led them to finish all their tickets before the blue team, and were declared the winners. This was Michael's fourth dinner service win in a row.
Prior to the challenge, Chris put himself as the strongest link of the red team, even though he acknowledged Michael's talent and experience.
During the Pasta Making Challenge, Michael was rolling the machine to make the dough to the correct thickness, and put the pasta on Jimmy's arms. His team won the challenge, managing to get 2,45 lbs of pasta acceptable, compared to the blue team's 2,41. Because of the win, the red team was awarded a nice tour on a gondola, with wine and cheese. It was Michael's second challenge win out of four.
The night before dinner service, Michael began to apply his strategies by trying to manipulate the other contestants. When he came back from his reward, he talked to Jessica, and tried to get her to say things about how the blue team was feeling after their loss, but she saw his plans and did not say too much. And when he talked with Chris before he got to sleep, Michael told him he was his friend and that he would love to get to the finals against him. After that, he went outside to have a talk with himself and the billboard that was showing Ramsay's face.
During dinner service, the red team cooked during the first seating, and served during the second. In the first seating, Michael was on the dessert station. He did not helped his teammates as supposed to, but instead focused on his desserts with the goal to impress Ramsay. His thinking was that if he was trying to help other people, his chances of winning the prize might slip away. Before the second seating, he tried to convince his teammates to sabotage the blue team's performance by giving them the most orders of lasagna possible. His plan worked as a lot of orders of lasagna were piling in the blue kitchen. After Ramsay shut down the blue kitchen as the time limit was over, he announced the red team losers as both their service in the dining room and the kitchen were shocking. However, Ramsay praised Michael for his strong performance on the dessert station and in the dining room, and he was named "Best of the Worst".
Michael named Elsie as his first nominee, and Chris as his second. He said that Jimmy had a wonderful night and worked hard, but in reality, he wanted to get rid of Chris because he was his biggest threat. He was relieved when his plan worked.
During the Blind Taste Test, Michael only tasted one food, which was veal sweetbreads, and got it wrong. However, because of Elsie's strong performance, the red team won the challenge 4-1. Because of the win, he enjoyed wine tasting with Ramsay.
The night before the next dinner service, Ramsay announced that both teams would be creating their own menus. The red team showed great teamwork while creating the menu, and during prep.
During dinner service, Michael was on the meat station. He helped Jimmy when he was struggling to send out acceptable scallop dishes to the pass. Because of his help, the new scallop dishes were acceptable. He later sent out perfectly cooked duck breast and filet mignon. It was well received by the customers. Ramsay eventually shut down both kitchens because too many orders came back. When he did, Michael had a heated argument with Jimmy because of his scallops dish that were not right, calling him "fatty". He was praised by Ramsay for his outstanding work and coming out of Chris' shadow. Because his food was of better quality than the blue team's, the red team won the dinner service. This marked Michael's fifth dinner service win out of a possible six.
Before the first individual challenge, Michael was the third to receive a black jacket. During the Tableside Fruit Flambé Challenge, he started rushing and dropped his mango, splattering it in the process. Ramsay praised the taste, but compared his presentation to Jimmy's plates because it was dirty. He lost the challenge, but was eventually chosen by Jimmy to go on the helicopter tour of Los Angeles, and greeted by Jean-Philippe with wine and caviar, on the top of a building.
During dinner service, Michael was on the dessert station. He got the team off to a good start by sending many starters. Later in the service, power went out in the restaurant. During the power struggle, Michael was too focused on his cooking that he did not even realized the power went out. Fortunately, it only lasted for a few seconds. Later, he saw Jessica who was struggling to keep up with the orders of filet mignons. When she was busy giving attitude to Ramsay, he ran in the back store quicker than her to get some filets for her. He also helped her on the meat station. After a heated argument between Jimmy and Ramsay, the kitchen was shut down. Ralph was named "Best of the Worst".
He was not nominated for elimination. This marked the first time since the beginning of the competition that Michael was not safe from nomination, even though he was not.
From now on, Michael knew he could not trust anybody but himself, and thought the friendships he made were not worth his desire to win the prize.
During the Leftover Challenge, Michael made a pasta dish with chicken wings, and while Ramsay said the presentation was nice, it did not taste good. Ramsay also mentioned the fact that he left the bones on the chicken, which could be dangerous. Because of this, he lost the challenge, and was punished by prepping the kitchen ahead of that night's dinner service. During prep, he got to see Elsie's appearance on "Good Day Live". After that, Ralph,Jessica and himself made a conspiracy in which they would leave Elsie aside if she was to need help during service.
At the beginning of the dinner service, Michael was on the garnish station, as Elsie chose him to be there as her second part of the reward. But, after one hour, Ramsay made the whole team switch stations. So at that point, he moved to the appetizer station. When he saw Elsie struggling on the garnish station, he made the penne dish for her, as she never done it before. After that, he moved to the meat station. When he got there and started cooking a filet mignon for the next order, he had to stop because Jessica could not deliver a proper time. After many tables walked out unfed, despite his attempt to rally the team, it was too little too late as Ramsay shut the kitchen down. For the first time ever, nobody was named "Best of the Worst", and instead, Ramsay would come up with his own decision.
Despite Ramsay reminding Michael his performance was average, but not more, he was not nominated for elimination.
At 4 am, Michael picked the phone in the dorms, and was asked by Ramsay to get Ralph, Jessica, and him in the blue kitchen immediately. The other two did not believe him and tried to convince him to go to sleep. After Sous Chef Scott went to the dorms himself, everybody got down stairs. Ramsay asked the trio to make bread because the baker was not able to provide the restaurant with bread. Ralph and him got most of the job done by baking the bread. He sent Jessica to sleep because she would be more of a hindrance.
Four hours later, he went back to sleep for two more hours, before being woke up by Sous Chef Mary-Ann playing a triangle. Ramsay explained the Perfect Soufflé Challenge. When Ramsay tasted his soufflé, he said it needed more sugar. He came in second place, following Ralph. When he got to choose a main ingredient for an inspirational dish to go on the menu during the next service, Ralph already chose beef, so Michael chose tuna.
During dinner service, Michael was on the appetizer station. In addition to manage his own station, he was responsible for preparing his dish. He sent many appetizers out to get the kitchen to a good start. Later, when main courses orders came in, he and Ralph got a good rhythm in the kitchen, and his tuna dish received mixed reviews. Because Jessica struggled on desserts, he took over her chicken dish, and continued to send out many main courses with Ralph. When the last ticket came in, he joined Jessica, with Ralph, on desserts, and completed them, marking the first time in the show's history a fully-booked dining room was served. His tuna dish was the least popular out of the three.
At elimination, Michael was visited by his wife and his in-laws. After each member of each family got to reveal the dish they enjoyed the most, he finished first place with five votes for his tuna. Therefore, he became one of the two finalists, along with Ralph. When he shook hands with Ralph, he was shown being very cold to him, not even looking him in the eyes.
After Jessica's elimination, Michael got to enjoy some time with his family. Back in the dorms, him and Ralph had a late night conversation on the patio, where he claimed he always dreamt of having his own restaurant.
The next morning, Ralph and him got down in the dining room for a little chat with Ramsay, where he announced the final test. After the chat, Michael stood on the red side of the restaurant, and a huge white blanket fell from the ceiling. Ramsay announced that he had to design his dream restaurant, with the help of John Janavs, the architect of Hell's Kitchen, Jean-Philippe for the service, and Sous Chef Mary-Ann for helping with his menu.
For the final challenge, Michael made a braised short rib oso buco as his signature dish. He got on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, along with Ramsay and Ralph so that customers can taste both dishes. He ended up winning the challenge 12-6.
When he returned to Hell's Kitchen, Michael was very satisfied with the work that has been done to this point, on the design of his restaurant, and returned to the kitchen to work on his food. After that, Ramsay announced a practice service, where Ralph and him would be running the hot plate. On his first ticket, he had trouble to be understood by his team because he was not talking loud enough. Ramsay told him that weakness, and Michael acknowledged his downfall. A few minutes later, Michael turned around and jokingly told his team they were cooking like old people, which made Ramsay laugh. During Ralph's turn at the pass, Michael sabotaged him by sending crab risottos without crab, a move that was praised later by Ramsay, who stated it was a clever move.
After service, Ramsay told Michael he had to run the team, and not the other way around. When he got back to the dorms, he practiced being as vocal as Ramsay, which made Ralph laugh. After that, he went on the patio and, while smoking a cigarette, did his nightly ritual of talking to Ramsay's billboard.
The next morning, when he got down in the dining room to see the progress of his new restaurant, Michael was told by Janavs that the booths he ordered have not arrived yet, and that it would not match with the base of the stairs. So, Michael agreed to switch the color of the stairs' base from beige to red.
Because Michael won the final challenge, he was awarded the first choice for his team, made of returning contestants. His first pick was Jessica, which infuriated Ralph. His second pick was Jimmy, and his last was Elsie. During prep, he stated he would have preferred to have professional cooks instead of returning teammates, but has to deal with what he had. When Jean-Philippe told him to come meet his staff, he named his restaurant "Lola Pop", referring to his wife's pet name that he gives to her. Later, his booths arrived, to his great relief. When Michael showed his dining room to Ramsay, he loved the mood that it was reflecting, and for the staff, he said the girls looked great, but the guys looked like ballerinas. Minutes before service, he received his head chef jacket, and briefed his team.
Moments after the doors opened, Ralph and him gave each other a big hug. When Michael delivered his first order, his team was not answering immediately. He had to told them they need to answer. He got off to a rocky start because he was lost and confused, which made his team switch off completely and cooking as individuals. However, the first appetizers were well received by the customers. More than an hour into service, one of his customers had plastic in her salad. When it came back, he threatened Elsie, who dressed the salad, to kill her if she was to do it again. After, he was given attitude by Jessica, who was still bitter about not being on Ralph's team, when she refused his authority. After an argument erupted between Jessica and Elsie, Michael calmed the situation down. Three hours into service, a steak came back in the kitchen, undercooked. He told Jimmy he was not happy about it and that he had to refire a steak order quickly. Later, Jimmy made him happy when he sent an acceptable order of steak. All his customers were extremely satisfied, and the kitchen started to send out desserts. After service was over, Jessica congratulated him by saying the menu was easy to execute.
During the post-mortem, Ramsay declared to Michael that all his customers were from Los Angeles as he wanted a Los Angeles restaurant. Him and Ralph got back to the dorms and waited for Ramsay's decision. And then, both of them got to Ramsay's office, blindfolded, guided by the Sous Chefs.
Arrived in Ramsay's office, Michael stood in front of a door, knowing that it would open only if he was the winner. After waiting nervously for Ramsay's countdown to end, he turned the handle, and his door opened. This made him the first winner of Hell's Kitchen, and win his dream restaurant. However, during the celebration, Ramsay made him an offer, which was moving to London to train under him and eventually becoming a world-class chef. Michael accepted the offer stating it was an opportunity of a lifetime, and that it would enhance his chances of success.
Ramsay's comment: "Ralph was great tonight, but Michael deserved to win because his creativity and standards are simply on a higher level, and I accomplish my goal of turning an unknown into a master chef and that has to be the perfect way to close Hell's Kitchen, tonight. And I'm fucking out of here!"
Nomination history Edit
Season 3 Edit
Michael came back to judge Rock and Bonnie's dishes during the final challenge. It was revealed he was working in his restaurant named Tatou, located in Los Angeles. He gave a point to Rock's fried chicken Surf n Turf, over Bonnie's prawn fettucine.
Season 5 Edit
Episode 15 Edit
Michael came back for the finale of that season, along with Heather (Season 2 winner), Rock (Season 3 winner), and Christina (Season 4 winner). He was seen when Ramsay introduced the recently crowned winner Danny to them and saw the unveiling of the Hell's Kitchen "Wall of Fame".
- He is one of the most tattooed Hell's Kitchen contestants of all time.
- He participated in the first ever all-male finals of Hell's Kitchen.
- He is the first winner, and first male winner of Hell's Kitchen.
- He is the first winner to have never been nominated for elimination throughout the entire season.
- He is the first contestant ever to switch teams.
- After his appearance on the show, he became Head Chef at The Standards restaurant in Los Angeles, before opening his own restaurant called Tatou. But, when he tried to open another restaurant called HK One, he was not able because of his finances problems. So, he opened his knife company and teaches cooking classes.
- "Damn, it's hot in here!"
- "I'm gonna win this, Chef Ramsay. I'll put everything on the line."
- "Don't know what tomorrow holds, I could be skydiving without parachute... I can't wait!"
- "You guys cook like old people fuck!"