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Jessica Vogel, Former Hell’s Kitchen Star, Dies at 34

Very sad news today out of the world of reality television:

Jessica Vogel, a former contestant on the Fox hit Hell’s Kitchen, died on Monday in New Jersey.

She was 34 years old.

ex-kitchen

This very sad piece of news was confirmed by NorthJersey.com, which spoke to Vogel’s fiance, John Michael Keyser.

He told the website that the chef’s “heart gave out” while she was being treated at a local hospital for colitis, which is an illness that causes inflammation in the digestive tract.

“We were planning to open a restaurant together,” Keyser told this outlet. “My heart is breaking.”

Vogel attended culinary school at Johnson & Wales in Denver.

She began her cooking career by working in the kitchen of Kevin’s Thyme in Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey, prior to becoming a pastry chef at Grange in Westwood and Christine Nunn’s Picnic on the Square in Ridgewood.

While working at a creperie and bakery in California, Vogel auditioned for Hell’s Kitchen, making her debut on the series in March of 2014.

She finished her run on the popular program in 12th place.

During this stint, Jessica impressed Gordon Ramsay with her rosemary-crusted venison loin with roasted potatoes and Brussels sprouts.

“Venison is one of the most difficult proteins to cook and you absolutely nailed it,” the notoriously hard-to-please celebrity chef told Vogel at the time.

“When she set her mind on something there was no way to stop her,” reads Vogel’s obituary on Legacy.com, adding:

“Jessica was fearless when it came to work, never backing down from a challenge.”

Vogel’s family said in this obituary that Jessica had battled issues with alcohol and drugs over the years.

“She recently committed to living a better life and had graduated from an inpatient rehabilitation program with hopes of regaining control of her life,” they said.

“Unfortunately, the damage done over the years was too great and she died, like she lived, a fighter.”

Vogel also appeared on the Food Network show Cutthroat Kitchen with Alton Brown in 2016 — appears to have written about her experience with alcoholism in a now-deleted 2017 Medium post.

“I’m weeks away from 34 years old and got told I drink too much and have cirrhosis,” she wrote.

“Did it stop me from pouring shots of alcohol? Nope. Did my lifestyle of sex, drugs and foie gras come to a born again Christian revelation? F-ck that noise.

“Life is a blaze of glory. I don’t know if you want an adventure tale, but I’m here and ready to tell. My name is Jess and I’ve lived to tell about it. To be continued…”

sad vogel

Fair Lawn-based chef Christine Nunn, who occasionally writes for The Record and NorthJersey.com, said she knew Vogel well.

“She knew more about the Bergen County dining scene than just about anyone,” Nunn told the latter website.

“She was really a talented chef who never reached her potential. It’s a shame.”

Vogel is survived by her parents, Donna Bruchmann and Mark Vogel, and her sister, Caitlin Johnstone.

May she rest in peace.

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Paulie Giganti Dies; Hell’s Kitchen Chef Was 36

Hell’s Kitchen chef Paulie Giganti was found dead in his home in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Thursday morning, according to media reports.

He was just 36 years old.

According to Radar, the medical examiner has confirmed that Giganti’s time of death was 8:55 a.m. on the morning of April 20.

It’s not clear how he died.

“There is no cause of death at this time as this just happened,” an official from the medical examiner’s office said. “Police were at the scene.”

An officer with the Philadelphia Police would not comment on whether there was trauma or foul play suspected at the time of this report:

“It hasn’t been deemed a homicide at this time. When you are dealing with someone of Mr. Giganti’s age uniformed police do routinely come out.”

“If it’s apparent his death was caused by another, then the homicide unit would get involved. We are going to have to wait for the autopsy to see.”

paulie picture

Giganti ran a restaurant in Philadelphia called Birra.

A New York native who went to school for engineering, Giganti was not a trained chef, but a self-taught one who learned on his own.

Fans will remember Paulie from his run on Season 16 of Hell’s Kitchen, the popular FOX cooking competition, which aired this past fall.

He turned in a strong showing, finishing fourth behind Heidi Parent, runner-up Heather Williams and winner Kimberly-Ann “Ryan” Ryan.

Not only did he win their respect, but their friendship; Heather and Ryan both have expressed that they’re devastated by this tragedy.

“I love you paulie. you short little pain in my ass. rest in paradise my friend. this hurts,” Ryan captioned a shot of the two hugging on TV.

Paulie pic

Heather also changed her profile picture to one with the two of them. Neither host Gordon Ramsay nor FOX commented right away.

Ramsay’s brash brand of television and restaurant running has kept the show running for 16 seasons, but not without major controversy.

Nor is this the first time a former star died.

In 2010, Joseph Cerniglia died in an apparent suicide in the Hudson River, where Ramsay said his restaurant was about to be swimming.

Despite how ominous that word choice sounds, his family insisted he loved Ramsay and his time on show had nothing to do with his death. 

Our thoughts are with Paulie’s family. May he, Joseph and all of these reality stars who have left this world far too soon rest in peace. 

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