Since March 12, Zach Womack has been lighting up Hell’s Kitchen with his fiery passion for cooking and strong opinions about his competitors! Womack – a West Philadelphia native – is making viewers across the nation smile with his cooking antics and brutal honestly. He is competing against 19 other contestant cooks for an executive chef position at a restaurant in Las Vegas’ Caesars Palace!
Womack is representing Philly with his accent and his signature dish: a classic, down home pork chop, pounded thin and topped with apple fig puree.
Thirty-four year old Womack worked his way up from the bottom, lying to land a job at McDonalds as a young teen. Next, he worked as a line cook at the Olive Garden on City Avenue. When reminiscing about his early cooking experiences, Womack stated, “I got in there, and to see the pastas, the sauces, the frying pans, and the fire … I said, ‘This is where I belong.’ ”
In his early twenties, he ventured to white tablecloth Savona in Gulph Mills, with a hunger to improve his culinary talents. Dominique Filoni, then Executive Chef, said he wanted to give Womack a chance to learn and grow as a cook. Filoni, now a Food & Wine magazine 10 Best (2004) and Executive Chef at Avenue in Long Branch, N.J. explained, “He was very eager, very motivated. I was always pushing him. That will prepare him for Ramsay. But he was always respectful, wanting to do to the right thing.”
Recently The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Michael Klein quoted Womack explaining, “When I got in there with these guys, that’s when everything clicked,” Womack said. “The respect for food, the attention to detail, the great sauces. I saw chefs cry because they wanted to do it better. The respect for the workers.”
Later in life, Womack left Savona for Capital Grill in Center City, where he worked as a cook and became the in-house butcher. With an impressive resume, Womack eventually moved to The Sansom Street Oyster House; then Warmdaddy’s, the soul food-jazz restaurant in South Philadelphia; followed by Jose Garces’ Amada in Old City. He later took a cooking job at The Cambridge.
Then came Hell’s Kitchen Season 11.
When Womack was asked what it was like working for the infamous Gordon Ramsay, ringleader of Hell’s Kitchen, he responded, “In a word, it [the season] will be crazy – nonstop, action-packed. I don’t hold back,” said Womack. “That’s just who I am.”
We wouldn’t have you any other way, Zach. Good luck!
To read more about Zach Womack, click here!