The Cooking Lesson Hell's Kitchen Winner Christina Wilson Learned From Working At McDonald's

Christina Wilson's career took off following her season 10 win on "Hell's Kitchen." First serving as chef de cuisine at Gordon Ramsay Steak in Las Vegas, she is now the VP of Culinary at Gordon Ramsay North America and has a hand in all of the company's restaurants across the country. This weekend, the Hell's Kitchen franchise expands to Mashantucket, Connecticut, with a new location at the Foxwoods Resort Casino. Before the opening, Tasting Table got an exclusive sneak peek at the restaurant and sat down with Wilson to talk all things food, Gordon Ramsay, and her career so far. 

And in addition to the guidance of Ramsay, her famed mentor, Wilson credits the success she's achieved over the course of her career to a humble beginning. Her first job in the food industry was at McDonald's when she was a teenage. She still credits that early training with having a profound effect on her cooking style. "There are things that I learned [there] that I still use today, [like] making a burger the same way every time. Always [positioning] your fork here and your spoon there." 

How McDonald's shaped Christina Wilson's career

Wilson worked at McDonald's from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. during the summers when she was in high school. "I jogged in the morning two and a quarter miles [to McDonald's], then I was done with work before half of my schoolmates were even out of bed." The accomplished chef didn't begin in the kitchen, however. Because she was well-spoken and good at math, her superiors started her on the register. But Wilson was deeply interested in learning about the trade and concocted a scheme to change roles. She confessed, "I started giving away free food — I don't recommend that as a ploy to get what you want in life — [but afterward], they took me off the register and had to put me on the griddle." 

While working in the back, Wilson learned how to efficiently prepare food, saying, "each part of the [burger] preparation is methodical, [which is something] I still utilize today. I honestly learned a good amount as a young, spry 16-year-old working the morning shift at McDonald's." When asked about her guidance to young cooks who may be beginning their careers in fast food, Wilson shared, "You just have to stay with it. Stay the course. Some days you want to quit, I've had more shower cries than I would admit from earlier in my career, but that thick skin and that resiliency is part of this industry."