Chef Barbie Marshall previews her return to HELL’S KITCHEN

HELL’S KITCHEN: Barbie Marshall. CR: Michael Becker / FOX. © 2017 FOX Broadcasting.

When Chef Barbie Marshall was a competitor on Season 12 of HELL’S KITCHEN, she got her black jacket but not the win.  She joked with people that if the show ever had an All Stars season, she’d do it, never expecting them to ACTUALLY have an All Stars season.

Now, she’s back in the kitchen, ready to compete with other chefs from the show’s past (including a handful from her season, which made for an interesting competition), all of whom made it to the black jacket stage of their respective seasons, and this time, she’s ready to win.

I spent time chatting with Barbie about coming back to the show, what’s changed over the past five years, and what a win in 2017 might mean for her family.

Are you excited to get back to HELL’S KITCHEN?
I am! It’s been a while.

What was your reason for wanting to go back and wanting to experience this again?
My reason is actually pretty funny. A lot of people always ask me, “Well, why don’t you go back on TV?” And I always said, “Because I don’t want to be on TV.”  So after so many people asked me, one day I was like, “You know what, if Hell’s Kitchen ever does an All Stars season, then I’ll do that.” In my mind, I was like, “Oh, they’re never going to do that.” Like, that’s never going to happen. So I thought that it was an easy out of not having to actually go back on TV, and then I got a phone call that said, “Hey, you want to come back and be an All Star?” And I was like, ahhh.

So, my daughter happened to be there when I got the phone call, and she was like, “Ma, what are you doing? Yes. You’re doing this.” The entire reason that I went on Hell’s Kitchen to begin with was because of my kids. It was weird. So I just said, “You know what, okay.” And at this point, why not?

Well, a lot’s changed, obviously, over the past couple years. What is the biggest difference for you, going in the first time, versus doing it the second time?
I think the biggest difference going in the second time was knowing that it was first All Stars season, and then I really just hadn’t had time to watch, and I’d heard that there were so many changes, so I really didn’t know what to expect.

The first time I went on, the kids and I used to watch all the time, so the model was pretty clear and pretty straightforward. So I just didn’t know what kind of challenges there would be, because I had seen a couple episodes where they were climbing things and jumping off of things, and I was like, “Oh, Hell’s Kitchen meets Fear Factor.”

So, I didn’t really know what kind of challenges to expect, and then with it being an All Stars season, it was like, “All right. So we’ve all been there. We’ve all gotten black jackets.” So it’s automatically assumed, I automatically assumed that the expectation will be higher.

I think as a viewer I would assume that too, because you’ve all been through it before, where you … On your first season everybody together was going through it the first time. Now everybody’s going in it together a second time. That next level of experience, they would kind of assume you’ll bring to it, right?
Absolutely, but then you also have to keep in mind that some of us are from the same seasons, so we have been through this together before, and we all didn’t always get along [laughs]. There’s that factor, and then there’s the five year’s difference of what happened, you know, the five years that passed since we were there, or three or ten, or however long it’s been since your previous season.  It’s still an opportunity to bond with new people, and it’s an opportunity to go back into how people that you were there before with, that you may not necessarily have gotten along with.

And what is that like? What is it like to revisit this world with people you’ve gone through it with before?
The first time I realized, the Hell’s Kitchen was the very first cooking competition that I ever did, and so I realized the first time, I’m very much a collaborator and I’m not competitive by nature, but it’s the kind of place that will try new things. And so, I kind of just look forward to bringing that competitive side out of me, and seeing other people that were there, yeah you kind of like, “Well, I kind of want to beat them.”

What have you been doing in these five years? I know you had been farming in Lancaster. I know that some things have changed. What has been going on in your life since we last saw you on TV?
Well, I farmed in Lancaster County for about 10 years, while I was growing in my business, and so I do have a catering service and a private chef service, and done some consulting, and done a lot of traveling. Professionally, it definitely opened up a lot of doors, and just the network of people that I met, and the people that I was exposed to, it was really amazing. Personally, a lot of things changed. All my kids grew up. I have an, my youngest kid is 18, so I can do a little more now. That really makes a big difference in life when you go from juggling farming and cooking, and being Mom. I was homeschooling my kids, too.

HELL’S KITCHEN: Host / chef Gordon Ramsay (C) welcomes the contestants in the “All-Stars Arrive” premiere episode of HELL’S KITCHEN airing Friday, September 29 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. CR: FOX. © 2017 FOX Broadcasting.

Now I can focus on just one thing. Part of the reason that I was in Lancaster County was the kids, so I worked with my food in a different way, and farming was a really great opportunity to incorporate that into being a chef, and now that I don’t have the same level of rooted-ness, because the kids are like, “Hey I’m out of the house. I’m leaving.” Then I can do more traveling and research more styles of cooking that I want to make and do, and go consult different places that I couldn’t do because I couldn’t leave the kids. I’ve been a solo parent for 10 years now, so it’s definitely different.

Were there techniques or things you had kind of revisit knowing you were going back into this kitchen?
I didn’t. My approach to it was just to do it their way. You know? I definitely went in, where there are certain times when you make dishes and they totally are a reflection of you on a plate, and that’s what you put out. And then there’s his way of doing it, and you just do it his way.  So I just, that was my focus and train of thought going into it was just, you know, try things his way, when he wants it his way, and stay true to yourself when it’s time to do it your way.

What was it like getting back in the kitchen, not with just the chefs, but with Gordon? What was it like five years later with Gordon?
You know, he’s really, really a kind man. Just in general, he’s just really a kind person, and so I didn’t have a bad experience the first time I was in the kitchen with him. I didn’t have any dreaded moments like, “Ugh, I’m afraid of him,” I just wanted to be a sponge and just soak up whatever he had to offer.

Was there something you learned maybe from being on it the first time, that you’ve applied to your daily life?
Daily life as a chef, it’s kind of hard, because I’ve been doing this for a long time, so I do have my own style, my own way of doing things. So you pick up lots of little techniques along the way, and I think, that’s your responsibility to pick up. I mean, I definitely picked up some secrets. You know, Chef is a Michelin Star rated chef. There is so much to learn. No matter what, you’re going to see something that you’ve never seen, if you’re not working under a Michelin Chef every day.

And then in general, you know, it airs in 31 countries, even five years go. So it was definitely different when it aired and I had teenagers and they would get a friend request from strangers from like, Sri Lanka, and they were like, “Who is this person?” And I’m like, “I don’t know. Oh my God. I really don’t know.” [laughs] Your personal life is not as personal, for sure, not as personal.

And I’ve talked to people where even five years ago social media was not what it is now. Can you imagine what it’s now going to be like when you’re reintroduced to the world?
I am imagining that there will be lots of gifs and memes, because people seem to just love my face, and so it was not the same five years ago, social media-wise. I’m a little bit older, so I do know that Twitter is very popular, and it was not as popular as it was then. Neither was Facebook, and Instagram, and SnapChat, and all of these things social media outlets that we have. So five years ago when it was just really Facebook and Twitter, I would get messages and marriage proposals, and it was all very new and strange. I am looking forward, not really, to some of the messages that fans send [laughs]. But then there are some very, very nice messages of people who are very supportive, and you realize that there are people all over the world that are routing for you, and that as strangers can really see you through just a few moments or experience that they’ve seen on TV, and it’s really awesome.

What can you tease, or what can you say, for why people should tune in to this season of Hell’s Kitchen?
We’ve gotten a couple of, they’ve definitely teased out a couple of videos and you’re there, and things happening, and you completely forget about them, and I didn’t, I don’t have a poker face. I wear my heart on my sleeve, and in one of the videos I am … there’s someone pulls something out and I am completely baffled by it. You can see it. And another contestant says something, and my response is, “Oh the shade.” And so I think that maybe that is quite the indication that some shady things may go down in the All Stars season of Hell’s Kitchen.

I was reading an interview you gave, years ago, for when you were first on it about how you need to discuss with the family, if you were to win, moving out West. Is that conversation different if you were to win the All Star season, about that move, because, like you said, your kids are a little bit older?
If I were to win, my kids are a lot older, my oldest daughter lives in Costa Rica with my two grandsons. My oldest son and my youngest daughter live in Philadelphia, and my youngest son is in York, PA. So we’re branching out, and my little birdies have, like, flown from the nest. I would not have the same restrictions as I had before. To be perfectly honest with you, five years ago, when my son was, he’s 20 now, he was 15 years old, the thought of going to Vegas … This kid was like, trading his games at Game Stop, like selling them so he could get stuff. And I just had these visions of legal prostitution and brothels, and I was like, “Oh, I’m never taking my kids to Vegas, so many things can happen.”  So, now that he’s a little bit older, and still trading his games at Game Stop, if he wants to do that, Mommy’s not responsible, but [laughs]! It is definitely a different set of circumstances. They have their own lives. I kind of get a chance to spread my wings too, because they’ve spread theirs.


HELL’S KITCHEN returns with an all new season, ALL-STARS, at 9/8c on FOX.