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Lubbock Chef Joins Cast of New Gordon Ramsay Competition

Angie Ragan
Lubbock chef Angie Ragan is one of 15 contestants featured from across the country on "Next Level Chef," the new cooking competition hosted by Gordon Ramsay.

Local chef Angie Ragan has joined the competition on Gordon Ramsay's new cooking show "Next Level Chef"

When Angie Ragan started her catering business in Lubbock two years ago, she was following her passion but wasn’t sure where it would take her.

Now, the born and raised Lubbockite is one of 15 contestants from around the country to star in Gordon Ramsay’s new cooking competition “Next Level Chef.”

“My whole strategy through the game was clear your head, calm down, do some impressive things and grab as much as you can,” Ragan said during an interview with Texas Tech Public Media. “Then, cook the best you can.”

Ragan has been in the spotlight since the show premiered at the start of the year on FOX, as the reality show features five home chefs–which includes Ragan–five social media chefs and five professional chefs. Ragan said she’s not classically trained, but that she has always loved to cook for her family and they encouraged her to try out for the show.

“I grew up cooking with my grandmother, and she taught me about food and how to cook and how to respect food and make it beautiful and tasting really good,” Ragan explained. “I have dreams about food, and I’ll wake up and make up the recipe and start cooking until I get it perfect.”

"Next Level Chef"
Photo Courtesy of FOX
Photo Courtesy of FOX
Angie Ragan is pictured along with the some of the other chefs on "Next Level Chef."

On the show, contestants are randomly assigned kitchens to work in that are on three different levels with the three hosts–Ramsay, Nyeesha Arrington and Richard Blais. On the top level, chefs had first choice over the available ingredients, while the second and basement levels get what is leftover.

Ragan started in the basement, where the odds are somewhat stacked against the contestants. She was later chosen by Arrington to be on her team.

“I was so happy she picked me,” Ragan said. “There’s so much you don’t see where she’s helping us and encouraging us, she was an amazing mentor. They’re really three great mentors.”

Ragan said she learned a lot from all three chefs, and found herself motivated by their humble beginnings.

“They explained their backgrounds - [Arrington] started at Taco Bell, Richard started at McDonald’s and Gordon started as a dishwasher at an Indian restaurant, and his sister got him the job,” Ragan recalled. “Richard said ‘Why would we pull our ladders up? Our ladders are down, and we want to bring you with us.’”

During the competition, the available ingredients are set on a platform on each level for 30 seconds before going to the next level, so competitors were often left with whatever they could grab. The twist threw Ragan for a loop at times.

“I had to go ‘Okay Angie, you get what you get,’” Ragan explained. “My plan was always not to get too in my head, or I’m going to mess up, and when it turns green, don’t fall into the platform and grab things you know.”

There was another factor for Ragan to consider, which was the utensils. While the top kitchen had everything available for the chefs, the basement was different and contestants would have to use tongs to make a sauce instead of a whisk, or even plastic spoons that melted from the heat.

“You couldn’t give them crap from the basement, but we knew we didn’t have a blender in the basement,” she explained. “So you’re not likely to get a puree. But in the top kitchen, there were no excuses. [The judges] would ask ‘Why didn’t you do this? Why wasn’t there a puree made when you have a blender?’ So when it came to judging, which kitchen you were in really did matter.”

Angie Ragan
Angie Ragan
A dish cooked by Angie Ragan, a Lubbock chef who is part of Gordon Ramsay's new cooking competition "Next Level Chef."

What she did grab, she turned into masterpiece dishes with a taste of Lubbock.

“Growing up in Lubbock, you go get your steak and your baked potato or broccoli or salad,” she explained. “I have become more aware of my presentation and ratios. I learned to be more delicate with that and more sophisticated with my plating.”

Through the show, Ragan hopes she can show the world that fine dining can be found in places like Lubbock with her business, Salt by Angie.

“I know so many people who fly to Dallas or even drive to go somewhere spectacular and get super high-end or the high-grade Japanese Wagyu,” said Ragan. “Why can’t you go to Lubbock and do that? So I’m bringing that to Lubbock.”

She’s also hoping she can show other women that these opportunities are important to take advantage of, no matter where they live or how old they are.

“I want other women my age and older to know it may take awhile, it may take a few years, but I can do this, I can make this happen,” Ragan said. “I’ve overcome a lot in my life, and it can really get to you. But you can flip that switch, and I want people to know iron sharpens iron. This is not who I’ve always been, but now, it’s who I am.”