Ferndale chef shows culinary skills on new season of ‘Hell’s Kitchen’

By: Joshua Gordon | Woodward Talk | Published February 3, 2016

 Ferndale’s Local Kitchen & Bar executive chef Jared Bobkin is a contestant on the current 15th season of “Hell’s Kitchen,” which premiered Jan. 15 on FOX.

Ferndale’s Local Kitchen & Bar executive chef Jared Bobkin is a contestant on the current 15th season of “Hell’s Kitchen,” which premiered Jan. 15 on FOX.

Photo provided by FOX

FERNDALE — Cooking hasn’t always been Jared Bobkin’s calling, but ever since the Oak Park native got in a kitchen, he hasn’t looked back.

The constant pressure to produce, the never-ending list of things to accomplish and the chance to try new things is what appealed to Bobkin, he said.

Now, Bobkin has a chance to put his culinary skills to the test on a national stage, as he was chosen as one of 18 chefs to compete on the 15th season of “Hell’s Kitchen,” which kicked off Jan. 15 on FOX. As of the third episode that aired Jan. 27, Bobkin, the executive chef at Local Kitchen & Bar in Ferndale, was still going strong.

“I have always liked to work with my hands, and regular schooling wasn’t for me,” Bobkin, 30, said. “I used to be a locksmith and a professional poker player, but I wanted to go to school for something, and I fell into cooking because my friend from high school put out a cookbook and I already loved to eat.

“It is easy for me to do 10 million things at once, so it is great because I can do five projects at once in the kitchen and never get bored,  and work all day and still never be done.”

Bobkin, who now lives in Troy, was informed of an open casting call in Southfield for the new season and didn’t find out he was selected for the show until three days before he had to leave for filming.

On the show, the 18 chefs compete in a series of challenges,  and the winner earns a one-year contract worth $250,000 to be head chef at BLT Steak at Bally’s Las Vegas.

With a basic knowledge of the show, Bobkin said he figured it was a great opportunity to get his name out there, good or bad, as well as show the quality of food that is produced in metro Detroit. He also wanted a chance to go up against some other quality chefs from around the country.

“I went in and you kind of forget how good you are because you are doing the same stuff every day,” Bobkin said. “I am a creative guy and this is my passion, so this reinvigorates that for me and stirs up internal emotions.

“I was able to size people up on their dish, whether they were run-of-the-mill or someone used something that was not commonplace. But I see myself as better than a majority of the competition.”

One of the fellow chefs on the show is Hassan Musselmani, a Clinton Township native and metro Detroit chef. Bobkin said he has worked with Musselmani several times, and the two have been friends for about four years.

“We have a good working relationship together and have been friends for quite some time, but the first time we met we couldn’t stand each other,” Bobkin said. “We both are the strong leader type and we clashed, but that is the type of personality ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ looks for.”

In his kitchen, Bobkin said, he enjoys working with ingredients he has never worked with before or ingredients not common in Michigan.

Specifically, he said he enjoys working with seafood, which was evident in the first dish he made on the show, a halibut dish that scored a four out of five rating.

For Local Kitchen & Bar Director of Operations Ric Jewell, his favorite dish of Bobkin’s is the beef heart, a piece of meat Jewell said a lot of chefs won’t work with.

To see the restaurant’s executive chef on national television is a great honor, Jewell said, but not necessarily a surprise. The way Bobkin conducts himself every day in Ferndale, Jewell said, will help in his journey to possibly winning “Hell’s Kitchen.”

“I think he is a fantastic leader, and I like the way he interacts with his team, especially at a relatively young age,” he said. “He has a unique ability to get his team to understand his vision. And he has a good command of flavor, which is important, and those two things have made him successful.”

Another perk of being on the show is the chance for the chefs to meet famed chef Gordon Ramsay, who has won several culinary awards and has hosted a range of British and American competitive cooking shows.

While he wasn’t as starstruck as some may be with Ramsay, Bobkin said his time on the show is something he always will relish. And while his friends and family await his fate on the show, Bobkin said he is ready to go again.

“If they called me right now and said they needed me back tomorrow, I would be there tonight hands down,” he said. “I had the time of my life there, and I would literally love to do it again in any sort of fashion.”

“Hell’s Kitchen” airs at 9 p.m. Wednesdays on FOX. For more information on the show, visit www.fox.com/hells-kitchen.