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Back into the fire: New season of 'Hell’s Kitchen' kicks off

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Michelle Rose / TV Media
Gordon Ramsay as seen in "Hell's Kitchen"

Gordon Ramsay as seen in "Hell's Kitchen"

If you've had your fill of feel-good holiday specials and you're craving some reality TV Schadenfreude, I've got some good news for you: Gordon Ramsay will be serving up new challenges, risotto-related rants and bleeped-out comments when Season 19 of "Hell's Kitchen" gets underway Thursday, Jan. 7, on Fox.

This new season has been a long time coming. It was first announced in February 2019 when Fox renewed the series for two more seasons (that's right, Season 20 is coming at some point). Filming was completed at Ramsay's restaurant at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas and the original plan was to air Season 19 over the summer.

Of course, COVID-19 threw a giant wrench in those plans (and everyone else's, for that matter). As the industry-wide production shutdown continued, networks were left scrambling to fill the gaps in their prime-time lineups. Given that a whole new season was in the can, Fox opted to keep "Hell's Kitchen" on the back burner until now.

What can viewers expect from Season 19 of "Hell's Kitchen"? Plenty of excitement and tense moments, that's for sure. For the first time, the competition will be set in Las Vegas, but the winner's stay in Sin City will be a short one — they'll be awarded a position at Ramsay's other Hell's Kitchen restaurant, in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. (Season 18 winner Ariel Contreras-Fox was awarded the position of executive chef at the Vegas location but reportedly opted for the prize money instead.)

During Thursday's episode, viewers will get to know the 18 new cast members, who have been divided into the Red Team and Blue Team. They are: Adam Pawlak of Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Amber Lancaster of Chicago Brittani Ratcliff of Morehead, Kentucky; Cody Candelario of Sherman Oaks, California; Declan Horgan of Washington, D.C.; Drew Tingley of Millmont, Pennsylvania; Eliott Sanchez of Bayonne, New Jersey; Fabiola Fuentes of Indio, California; Jordan Savell of North Richland Hills, Texas; Josh Oakley of Denver, Colorado; Kenneth McDuffie of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Kori Sutton of Los Angeles, California; Lauren Lawless of San Diego, California; Marc Quiñones of Albuquerque, New Mexico; Mary Lou Davis of San Antonio, Texas; Nicole Hanna of Wolfeboro, New Hampshire; Peter Martinez of Palisades Park, New Jersey; and Syann Williams of Atlanta, Georgia.

The contestants are new but the competition format is the same. You might also recognize a few familiar faces: Season 7 winner Jay Santos is onboard as the Blue Team's sous chef, while Season 10 winner Christina Wilson is the sous chef for the Red Team.

So the big question is: who will be the first chef to be sent home? Tune in to "Hell's Kitchen" on Thursday, Jan. 7, to find out.