Every week the “Hell’s Kitchen” contestants are put through rigorous challenges by Gordon Ramsey and feel his wrath when they don’t live up to expectations, so this particular culinary test must have been a piece of cake: create a recipe using locally sourced ingredients from their hometowns in different parts of the country. In honor of Earth Week, executive chef Ja’Nel Witt from Houston, Texas, culinary student Susan Heaton from Whittier, California, executive chef Ray Alongi from Boston, Massachusetts and line chef Anthony Rodriguez from New Orleans, Louisiana came up with three entrees — including one in which vegetarians can substitute tofu for fish -- and a dessert, presented here.

“Hell’s Kitchen” airs Tuesdays on Fox.

Ja’Nel Witt’s Hanger Steak w/ Argentine Citrus-Chimichurri

Chimichurri is a traditional South American accompaniment to most grilled meats and fish. This variation utilizes local Texas citrus fruit. Hanger steak is an inexpensive yet flavorful cut of beef that lends itself nicely to this acidic yet herbaceous sauce.

Chimichurri ingredients:

1 cup olive oil

Zest of 2  oranges +  juice

Zest of one lime + juice

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 each whole garlic cloves minced

1/3 cup minced shallot

1/2 cup minced fresh parsley

1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Salt and ground black pepper to taste


Stir olive oil, orange/lime zest & juice, and vinegar together with garlic, shallot, parsley, oregano, and red pepper flakes; season to taste with salt and pepper. Reserve 1/3 cup for marinating hanger steaks. Allow remaining chimichurri to stand for 2 hours at room temperature before serving.

Hanger Steaks

4-6oz hanger steaks

Salt and pepper

1/3 cup reserved chimichurri

Cover steaks with chimichurri and allow to sit 2 hrs

Heat grill to med-hi heat

Grill steaks 5-7 mins per side for medium rare.

Remove from heat and allow to rest 5-10 minutes

Slice each steak, against the grain, to desired thickness

Arrange on a plate and drizzle with chimichurri.

Susan Heaton’s Avocado-Tomatillo Salsa with Pacific Halibut and Black Bean Puree

Ripe Southern California Avocados add the perfect creaminess to this fresh, healthy fish dish. You can use this salsa on any protein or even for dipping!

Yield: Serves 4


3 cups boiling water
4 medium tomatillos
½ Serrano pepper. Seeded and stemmed
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
½ diced brown onion
1/2 tablespoon salt

Juice of 2 limes
2 avocados

1 bunch cilantro (reserve a few sprigs for garnish)

Pacific Halibut
4 – 4oz pieces Pacific Halibut

¼ teaspoon cumin

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

Black Bean Puree

2 cans black beans

6 oz low sodium vegetable stock

1 tablespoon lime juice

2 tablespoons Greek yogurt

½ teaspoon salt

For salsa:

Bring water to a boil and add tomatillos (remove outer leaves from tomatillos). Boil until tender and easily pierced with fork. Place tomatillos in blender. Reserve some water for adjusting salsa consistency. To the blender add remaining ingredients and puree. Once all ingredients and blended, check for flavor and consistency. Add water from tomatillos if too thick. (Can be made ahead of time. Cover and chill.)

For fish:

Season each piece of fish with equal parts salt, pepper and cumin. Heat oil in large skillet and once oil is hot, place fish in pan. Once crispy, flip and continue cooking till done. Time spent will depend on thickness of fish.

For beans:

Drain and rinse beans, add to sauce pot with vegetable stock. Cook till hot. Add beans to blender along with remaining ingredients and puree. Once all ingredients are combined, check puree for consistency and flavor. Adjust as needed with additional stock or Greek yogurt.

Ray Alongi’s Seafood Pasta with Sambuca & Cherry Tomatoes Sauce



Littleneck Clams



2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 clove of smashed garlic

1 tablespoon sliced shallots

1 cup cherry tomatoes

Approximately 2 tablespoons Sambuca

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon fresh cilantro

1 tablespoon sweet unsalted butter

Salt & Pepper to taste

For the pasta

In a 2 quart sauce pot bring 1.5 quarts water, 2 tablespoons salt and 2 tablespoons oil to a boil. Add ½ pound of pasta and cook approximately 7 to 10 minutes depending on type pasta desired. Stir pasta constantly to prevent pasta from clumping together. Pasta should be cooked al dente.  (With a slight bite and not mushy)

For the sauce                                                  

While pasta is cooking start to prepare the sauce.

In a hot medium/large sauté pan add oil, garlic, shallots and lower to medium heat and cook until slightly transparent. Add Sambuca and let reduce by approximately half volume to cook off the alcohol. Once reduced, add tomatoes, bay leaf and salt & pepper to taste. While slightly simmering, (approximately 3 minutes) add clams and mussels. Simmer for 5 minutes more now you can add the scallops and lobster meat along with ½ of the chopped cilantro. 

The assembly

Cover until clams begin to pop open. Remove pan from heat, remove seafood and set aside, add butter and cooked pasta. Toss pasta with sauce, decorate with seafood and finish with remainder of cilantro and shaved Parmesan cheese if desired.

A chef’s trick: When using a gas stove, cut out the top and bottom of cans out and place over the flame under the pot. This acts as a defused to deflect the direct flame and helps the sauce not to burn.

Anthony Rodriguez’s Creole Cream Cheese Cake with a Ponchatoula Strawberry Coulis

Makes: 1 (10-inch) Cake


Creole Cream Cheese Cake:

2 (11-ounce) Portions of locally bought or homemade Creole Cream Cheese

3 (8-ounce) portions of Philadelphia Cream Cheese

3 Whole eggs

1 ½ cups sugar

½ tsp. nutmeg

2 Tbsp vanilla

1 Tbsp lemon juice

2 Tbsp lemon zest

Pie Crust:

1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs

¼ cup sugar

4 Tbsp melted butter

Cake Topping

1 pound sour cream

2 Tbsp vanilla

½ cup sugar

Strawberry Coulis

2 cups fresh Ponchatoula strawberries

½ cup sugar

1 Tbsp lemon juice

½ cups water

2 oz Old New Orleans Rum (optional)


For crust:

In a bowl, mix the cracker crumbs and sugar. Slowly add in the melted butter to moisten the mix. Add the crust mix to a 10-inch round spring form pan and using your fingers press the mix into the bottom of the pan. Place the pan in the fridge for 25 min or until the crust is firm to the touch.  

For topping:

In a mixing bowl combine the sour cream, sugar and vanilla and whip thoroughly until the mixture is pourable.

For cake:

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Leave both the Creole and Philadelphia Cream cheese out at room temperature to soften. In an electric mixer bowl place the cream cheeses, sugar, nutmeg, vanilla, lemon juice and zest. Mix on a medium to high speed until all lumps are removed. Move mixer to its lowest speed and add in the eggs one at a time letting each mix completely before adding the next. Be careful not to over whip, only continue to mix until the last egg is incorporated. Remove the piecrust from the fridge and fill with the cake batter, rotate and lightly tap the pan to evenly distribute the batter and release the air bubbles. Place on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 1 hour. To check if done the cake should be slightly browned around the edges and may appear slightly underdone in the middle. Remove from the over and rest for 20 minutes. Take the Topping and pour evenly over the top of the cake and return to the oven for 6 minutes. Remove and let cool. Set into the fridge for 5 hours or if possible overnight.

For coulis:

In a medium sauce pan combine the strawberries, lemon juice, sugar and water. Over a medium-high heat bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer and allow to reduce. Let it reduce down until reaching a syrup like consistency then using a strainer strain the liquid into another sauce pan. Heat back up to a bubble and add the rum (warning will flame up) allow the liquor to burn off while stirring the pan gently and serve atop a slice of cake or under the cake.

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Chef contestants cook with local ingredients from their hometowns.