Gordon Ramsay's Next Level Chef Brings The Heat and the Heart!

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It's Gordon Ramsay's world; we just live in it.

Ramsay and FOX network have been a match made in heaven since his debut of the acclaimed Hell's Kitchen back in 2005, and he's become a household name in the States since.

The man has the Midas touch when combining cooking, hospitality, and entertainment. However, it's the competitive cooking shows that will endear you the most and inspire you, and Next Level Chef is the creme of the crop.

Judges and Mentors -tall

It's the first time he's kickstarted a spanking brand new cooking competition series in nearly a decade, something he hasn't done since the purely delightful Masterchef Junior, a spinoff from MasterChef.

And surprising no one, Next Level Chef is a prime example of how there's no stopping a culinary maverick and phenomenon because Gordon Ramsay doesn't miss.

It's nearing two decades of Gordon Ramsay on FOX, and he's practically a staple of the network, generating nothing but buzz, hits, and views. The Ramsay franchise seems unparalleled and untouchable on the network, to our utter delight.

Next Level Chef combines some of the best classic Ramsay formulas and ups the ante.

Next Level Chef Contestants

In fact, Next Level Chef feels like a labor of love, a love letter to the legions of fans over the years who've spent years of their lives tuned into all things Ramsay.

In a way, it takes it back to the basics, honing in Ramsay's philosophy about life and cooking, that regardless of who you are and where you start, with the perfect combination of grit, determination, and passion, you can find success and genuine happiness in the culinary world.

It's another series designed for underdogs, shining a light on the hidden gems and talent across the country who just need that foot up and a platform to share their passion and gifts with the world.

The series couldn't launch at a better time -- as we're two years into battling a global pandemic and the world feels bleak, Next Level Chef is the type of wholesome, inspiring content that warms the cockles of your heart and makes you smile.

Gordon Ramsay Heads Next Level Chef

It's restorative and good vibes with a feeling of universal connectedness that no one has escaped this pandemic without craving at their core.

You can't help but feel that they knew what they were doing with this one; it radiates positivity and earnestness.

No, it's not one of the "shouty-shout" shows that will have Ramsay passionately yelling at aspiring chefs or overly critical with some of the most shocking and hilarious burns and quips you'd imagine.

At the heart of Next Level Chef, it's about passionate cooks coming together regardless of their positions and status and celebrating that.

Judging Moment - Next Level Chef

It's the mentorship at the center of Next Level Chef that makes it endearing and stand out from its predecessors. We have esteemed chefs Gordon Ramsay, Nyesha Arrington, and Richard Blais serving as judges of the competition and trailblazing mentors from whom the contestants can learn.

Hence the notion that this feels more like a labor of love to celebrate and uplift aspiring chefs than an actual competition. Sure, there's a $250,000 prize up for grabs, but as the season progresses, it's evident that it's the connections these contestants forge with Arrington, Blais, and Ramsay that serve as the ultimate prize.

More than the previous shows, this one feels like our elite chefs are in the trenches with the contestants and can truly put on their mentor apron. The establishment of teams for each chef creates this tight-knit, unique bond between them and the five contestants under their wing.

It's an invaluable experience that allows for a plethora of moments where Arrington, Blais, and Ramsay get to actually spend time with their team members, getting to know their skillset, encouraging and uplifting them, or providing tough love.

Mentoring a Chef -tall- Next Level Chef

Unlike most culinary competition series, it's that setup that makes for a more intimate experience for the chefs and contestants, yes, but also the viewers watching, too.

While the chefs are still judges, and they're competing and gambling as much as the contestants are, they're in a more supportive role, get to show their vested interest, and pour into their mentees.

And each chef has something distinctive to offer, their mentor styles varying from Blais' gentle encouragement to Arrington's blunt, no-nonsense delivery and Ramsay's laidback balance with tough love.

Ramsay is the most overtly competitive of the bunch, but his appreciation for underdogs and penchant for gravitating to diamonds in the rough shines through strong.

Giving Direction -tall - Next Level Chef

Arrington, though competitive, has this willingness to sacrifice mere wins for genuinely mentoring her team and whipping them into shape.

You strongly sense how much she prioritizes reaching behind her and extending that hand to pull up the aspiring chefs and future of the culinary world because she knows what it's like to be on the other side of that. Everyone can eat at Arrington's table, hell. She'll make sure they can bring a damn fine meal to it, too.

Like Arrington, Blais's background as a former contestant and winner of similar cooking competitions places him in a distinctive position as someone who walked in the contestants' shoes.

It makes his ability to pay it forward heartwarming, and his very presence is one of inspiration for contestants, representing what they can achieve.

Nyesha Focuses -tall- Next Level Chef

The contestants are a medley of individuals you cannot help but root for, and while there's always one or another you hope wins it all, in reality, you recognize that all of them already have.

Next Level Chef brings professional and home chefs to the same playing field.

You're as likely to see a social media influencer as you are a food truck operator or working single parent -- a diverse batch of people from all walks of life and varying skill sets who share a passion for food and a dream.

It's the stories that you find the most compelling. Every person has one, and the more time we spend with the contestants, learning about their lives back home and their dreams, the stronger the series resonates with viewers.

Tricia -Next Level Chef

It's not a single person you don't want to win, and your heart breaks when contestants inevitably fall to the bottom in the series' rendition of a sudden death round, knocking one another out.

One of the show's highlights is how it celebrates and encourages creativity, innovation, and perseverance.

Next Level Chef will remind viewers of a combination between Top Chef and a Netflix horror film called "The Platform."

By the luck of the draw, each team can find themselves in the top, middle, or bottom level of a three-floor cooking area. The best part about the setup is that all groups will find themselves in the dreaded lower level at some point or another.

Platform - Next Level Chef

The upper level is a top-of-the-line kitchen with all the highest caliber products, utensils, and access. The contestants at the top level have first access to the best food, proteins, produce, or what have you that they must make.

The middle level has a standard kitchen setup, and while they may not get first dibs on the array laid out on the massive dumbwaiter in the center of the kitchens that descends from the ceiling down to the bottom level.

But it's the lower level that provides the most exciting moments and is tailor-made for those with a soft spot for underdogs.

The lower kitchen reminds you of a rundown, hole in the wall, take-out joint, but everyone knows that sometimes those places serve up the best food.

Reaching for the Top -tall - Next Level Chef

The challenges the lower kitchen and the contestants face with low-quality supplies and scraps keep viewers glued to the screens.

It's something satisfying about watching the team in the lower level thrive and create stunning dishes that could be serviceable in the finest of restaurants.

Sure, sometimes someone has to create something edible and enticing with SPAM, but then there are cases when one of the best cuts of steak there is -- it literally falls from the sky as the upper levels scramble to retrieve their ingredients in 30 seconds.

Each high-caliber food product that sneaks its way to the bottom when the upper levels overlooked it or simply ran out of time is like finding a coveted treasure, and you know the bottom level will turn out something positively envious.

Observing Spices - tall - Next Level Chef

The lower level combined with a series of contestants comprised of home chefs makes this series relatable to its audience.

One can't help but think of those levels as an allegory -- coinciding with this overall theme that literally anyone can learn to cook, hone their skills, and become something great.

In an industry that is sometimes glaring in its inherent classism and elitism, there's something deeply poignant about a series that celebrates and shows that regardless of what "level" you're in, a person can create something stunning, delicious, and worthy of praise.

Not everyone has access to the finest cuts of meat, high-quality produce, or a plethora of expensive supplies, but in Next Level Chef, that doesn't matter.

Plating - Next Level Chef

It shows that something created with canned meat can be as much of a five-star meal as Wagyu. It doesn't shut the door on those from all walks of life with a genuine interest and passion for food. It busts it wide open, serving as a reminder of how inclusive and limitless the field can and should be.

Next Level Chef encourages everyone to simply enjoy food and appreciate cooking, even if it's only at home for an audience and judge of one.

It has accessibility and an interactive quality that feels refreshing and unique to culinary competitions before.

While we aren't in the competition ourselves as viewers, from the confines of our home, we can partake in the #NextLevelBurgerChallenge along with Ramsay and Blais on TikTok, or live-tweet the series with fans, contestants, and the chefs on Twitter.

@gordonramsayofficial I’m taking #burgers to the Next Level ! Cant wait to see what you do in the #NextLevelBurgerChallenge and dont miss #NextLevelChef at 9/8c on @foxtv ♬ Do It To It - ACRAZE

We can show off our skills in a place free of judgment and acquire new ones, receiving that same level of encouragement and inspiration from culinary idols.

You cannot watch this series without it either igniting or reigniting a love of cooking or daring you to try new things and explore. It's beautiful. Next Level Chef is all about food, love, and pure joy. And there's something so special about that.

Next Level Chef airs Wednesdays at 9/8c on FOX.

If you haven't already, check it out! And if you have, hit the comments and share your thoughts about it!

Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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