Anyone interested in cooking, reality television, or both has probably watched Hell's Kitchen. The series is filled with drama, competition, and a whole lot of yelling from the show's host, Gordon Ramsay.

I had the chance to speak with a very special contestant from Season 16, Pat Tortorello. Although his time was cut far too short, Tortorello shared some of the details from his experience.

Tortorello's one-word-summary of the show

In one word, Tortorello said his experience was "disappointing."

"I was definitely thrown off the show too quickly. I had a lot more to show [in terms] of myself and my skills. But the facts of TV are that even though it's reality TV, there is a bit of, let's say, intervention by production," he said.

The salt incident

On the show, one of the other contestants, Paulie Giganti, blamed Tortorello for adding too much salt to his dish. Tortorello said what really happened was that Giganti brought a completely different risotto dish up to Ramsay. When Ramsay said it was too salty, Tortorello told Giganti that it would be a good idea to taste each other's dishes to check for appropriate seasoning. Later, he tasted one of Giganti's dishes, and because he told him it needed salt, he added a pinch of salt to Giganti's risotto.

In the end, the editors took Ramsay's dialogue, saying the risotto was too salty, and inserted it into another scene to make it look like Tortorello sabotaged Giganti's dish. They even looped his action twice, making it appear that he added two pinches. In reality, Tortorello was on the same team as Giganti, so the points Giganti scored for his dishes also affected Tortorello.

Convenient cut-outs in editing

This wasn't the only example of editing, though. For Tortorello's signature dish, he chose a sea bass with citrus risotto. He said this was because he researched Ramsay before the show and discovered that sea bass is one of his favorite foods.

On the show, Tortorello received a 3/5 as a score for this dish. In reality, he recalled Ramsay saying his dish was cooked perfectly and that he raved about his fish. However, this scene was conveniently kept out of the final cut.

Cliques in the kitchen

Tortorello also says the environment on set was "somewhat toxic." Of course, everyone is there to compete, but Tortorello notes there was more going on behind the scenes.

"A lot of my team was from Philadelphia. There was no one else from New Jersey. No other guys from New York. So the Philly guys seemed like they all knew each other from outside, and several of them did. So they kind of [formed] a little clique and definitely ganged up against me because they wanted to keep their crew there and intact," he said.

Tortorello's one big regret

If Tortorello could take one thing back, he said he would have spoken up about a mistake that Ramsay yelled at him for while he was cooking risotto.

In order to stay organized, Tortorello arranged single servings of risotto. He says he added one serving to the pan and started to mix it around with butter. Then, approximately 45 seconds later, Ramsay called for another order of risotto, so he added another serving. This is when Tortorello's explanation of how to cook risotto comes into play.

Tortorello said, "Our risotto dish was a butternut squash and lobster risotto. So the first thing is we had brown butter in a squeeze bottle. We squeezed it out into the pan and then basically sauteed the risotto in that to coat it in the fat. And then you start with chicken stock, pour it in, and that's how it'll hydrate and start cooking." 

He said all he was doing with the second serving was coating it in the brown butter mixture.

"Ramsay has his back to us so he can't see anything that's going on in the kitchen. He was wired through his earpiece to come back and yell at me. So he didn't see it. He didn't know what he was doing. And the producers were incorrect that I was putting raw risotto into the risotto that was already cooking," Tortorello said.

Tortorello's positives

Although there were negative parts of his experience, Tortorello said it has unquestionably been beneficial as well.

Tortorello said that being able to say he was on Hell's Kitchen is a great way to get people's attention. As a sales manager for a food service, this is a great selling point. Not to mention, now he can market himself not just as a chef but as "Chef Pat from Hell's Kitchen."

He also says he learned the ways in which Ramsay makes some of his signature items, and that is undoubtedly valuable information.

Overall, no matter the role of the producers, Tortorello said he is unquestionably grateful for the opportunity. He just wishes it played out differently.

Is Chef Ramsay just as scary in person

And finally, what everyone is always dying to know — what is Gordon Ramsay really like?

Tortorello said that he believes Ramsay plays a character. When he was young, he worked at a restaurant in London under Marco Pierre White, who Tortorello described as similar to how Ramsay comes across on the show. So, Ramsay essentially took that personality and made his own brand out of it in America.

Although Tortorello didn't spend a lot of time with him, he only had positive things to say about Ramsay. 

"He's really a wonderful person. A lot of my friends who have been on the show before, who have had the opportunity to talk to him and be with him in a normal setting say he's a great, compassionate, and wonderful person. He's very funny. He loves practical jokes. He's a cool, funny guy," Tortorello said.

At the end of the day, this is just one contestant's perspective, though. Who knows how others feel about their time on Hell's Kitchen?

Find out where you can watch Tortorello's episode here.