The Duluth-Raised Chef to be Featured in ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ Season 20
With the answer on the horizon, he still doesn’t budge.
“I’m not sure if I can say specifics,” Francis said in a recent phone interview from Maryland, where the young chef now works for the Freshly ready-meal delivery service. “There were a lot of nasty things. He does not hesitate to insult.
Francis is part of the cast of chefs who were 23 and under at the time of filming for the next season of the series starring Ramsay, the notoriously lippy British chef. “Hell’s Kitchen: Young Guns,” set in Las Vegas, will air at 7 p.m. on May 31 on Fox.
Matthew Francis, from Duluth, will be featured in Season 20 of “Hell’s Kitchen: Young Guns”. (Photo courtesy of Matthew Francis)
There’s no pampering in a trailer for this season.
“We’re running a kitchen, not a kindergarten,” Ramsay says in a clip that also shows contestants tears, thrown towels, thrown food, and the chef’s meaty growl “GET OUT”.
It’s Francis standing next to Ramsay in a scene where the host says, “You’re 18, that’s the future.”
Francis, now 26, graduated from Denfeld High School in 2013 and attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. In school, he found that besides preparing food, he enjoyed cooking media and storytelling. He has combined dinner and cameras for years.
“By the time I graduated, I had made 300 videos on YouTube,” he said.
Buzzfeed noticed it. Francis was hired to create cooking videos for his Tasty Recipe-focused branch. Among his biggest hits on the site: frozen lemonade, chicken cordon bleu, one-pot chicken-bacon-goat cheese pasta and DIY rolled ice cream. He continued to do the same for food bloggers and restaurants in Los Angeles, in addition to companies like Viacom, Nickelodeon and MTV, he said.
Matthew Francis recently created Korean Tteokbokki. (Image courtesy of Matthew Francis)
Francis said he realized he had the ability to live anywhere and returned to Duluth just before COVID-19 hit. While sheltering in place, he continued to create independent videos for businesses and work on his own creative projects: “DinnerViews,” a two-season YouTube series that includes interviews with friends with videos from the sidebar that show the preparation of their dream meal, and the first novel in a six-part fantasy sci-fi series.
“I am someone who always has a creative energy,” he says.
While living in Los Angeles, Francis drew friends, including familiar faces from Tasty, to an intimate setting – small table, paintings, white lights, wine – for conversation and quirky questions.
Her guests share their life stories, show off bizarre body tricks, encourage viewers to look inside, reveal their nutritionist isn’t going to like this diet craze, and in addition to sharing their own steamy and dark secrets, are finally presented with their dream food main course: spinach salad with strawberries, candied walnuts and poppy seed vinaigrette, crêpes with Nutella, toast with Manchego apples, mashed shoulder cabbage with maple and wild mushrooms.
The hour-long episodes of “DinnerViews” – there are 24 – have compelling guests with authentic conversations ranging from theories about love to a story about a time when a woman’s brother accidentally took drugs. when he used his mother’s cannabis oil to make chicken.
The pandemic downtime also gave Francis the space to write the book he’s been thinking about for years: Four genetically evolved teens are learning to be time travel agents. “Prax and the Dangerous Countdown” is a YA sci-fi-fantasy with LGBTQ + themes and set in Duluth.
Matthew Francis wrote “Prax and the Dangerous Countdown,” a story he wanted to tell for years, while living in Duluth during the pandemic. The cover art is by artist Megan McNamee from Duluth. (Image courtesy of Matthew Francis)
The cover art is by artist Megan McNamee from Duluth and, Francis promised, “There’s a ton of food in there.”
“Prax and the Dangerous Countdown” is available at the Zenith Bookstore and on Amazon.com.
Although he has created so many videos for other entities, Francis maintains that it is important that he also has work of his own.
“If I can create the story myself, people will come to me,” he said.
In the kitchen
Like his gig with BuzzFeed, Francis’ social media brought in scouts from “Hell’s Kitchen” and although he had never seen the show, he signed up.
“I always say yes to opportunities,” he said. “I did an audition, it was fun, then boom: we shot the series. I’ll tell you it was a crazy experience with a lot of good ones and a lot of bad ones.
“Hell’s Kitchen” is not Francis’ first food competition. In 2015, while still in culinary school, Francis and his classmate Cullen Folks (who appears in his “DinnerViews” series) entered a competition to create Super Bowl party dishes using PepsiCo products. Their Pepsi-marinated chicken and coleslaw simmered in the Sierra Mist earned them tickets to Super Bowl XLIX – best known for “Deflategate” and the Dancing Shark – and $ 5,000 on the stock market.
Matthew Francis (left) and Cullen Folks, from Duluth, learn about the PepsiCo ingredients they work with in the semi-finals of Game Day Grub Match, a Super Bowl-themed cooking competition. The duo qualified for the final with a Pepsi marinated chicken and a Sierra Mist flavored coleslaw. They will serve the dishes to chefs and NFL players on Saturday in Arizona. (Photo courtesy of Getty Images / PepsiCo)
This time, he cannot reveal any details yet, although he will offer generalities. He’s proud of some of them, not so proud of others. This show is bigger than him, he said, and next season there will be all the new contestants.
“It’s cool to be two years wiser,” he said, adding that he planned to watch it and cringe. He’s relatively new to Maryland, where he lives near an international food market that influences his self-proclaimed vegetarian dishes, like a recent Korean dish, Tteokbokki: spicy stir-fried rice cakes.
He plans to invite his new friends over for the screening.
“Make fun of the show, make fun of me, drink wine, laugh,” he says.
By the time Matthew Francis graduated from culinary school, he had already created at least 300 YouTube videos. (Photo courtesy of Matthew Francis)