A culinary student at Johnson & Wales University in Denver has none other than Chef Gordon Ramsay to thank for funding his education.

After being eliminated from Fox’s reality cooking show “MasterChef,” contestant Gabriel Lewis, 19, received a nearly unbelievable one-of-a-kind offer from Chef Ramsay himself.

“Young man, it’s very rare we see such raw talent that’s got amazing potential come through this competition. You’ve got the potential to be huge in this industry. You just need the right training. So I am personally going to send you to culinary school,” Ramsay told Lewis, as he stood in front of the panel of judges during the elimination scene, which aired in September.


Lewis made into the top seven contestants before coming up short on a cannelloni dish and being subsequently cut from the competition.

So where did Lewis, a native of Oklahoma, end up at Ramsay’s expense? At none other than Denver’s Johnson & Wales University.


Lewis enrolled at JWU last spring after filming was complete, but he had to keep his involvement with the “MasterChef” show a secret until the episodes began to air over the summer.

In the meantime, he’s been keeping Ramsay apprised of his grades and progress.

“It’s been quite a ride since the end of the show,” Lewis said in a video message to Ramsay. “I’ve enjoyed being in class, being here in school, and everybody’s really pushing me, and people are going back and watching the episodes.”

After the “cannelloni episode” aired, one of his JWU instructors had him make a batch of cannelloni as his final exam — as an act of redemption. Lewis passed.

If that guy can be that good without training, do you have any idea what’s he going to become?” Ramsay said in an interview with ET Canada. “When he’s trained, my door’s open. So what are we talking about? $40-$50,000 education fees? For me, I can do that. But it wasn’t about the money; it was about that guy’s potential. Within the first two weeks of meeting him, I spotted a little bit of his vulnerability — me inside him. I felt that was me at 19 — insecure, amazing, driven, but we all need — somewhere in our life — that bit of mentorship, and I’ve never ever shied away from that in terms of what it did for me.”


Congrats to Lewis! And welcome to Denver! Best wishes as you continue your culinary education at JWU.

Featured image courtesy of Lewis’s Facebook page.

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