Atlanta's T Gregoire in 'Hell's Kitchen' season 14 finals

Lilburn's T Gregoire is in the finals of "Hell's Kitchen." CREDIT: Rodney Ho/

Credit: Rodney Ho

Credit: Rodney Ho

Lilburn's T Gregoire is in the finals of "Hell's Kitchen." CREDIT: Rodney Ho/

By RODNEY HO/, originally filed Thursday June 4, 2015

Lilburn resident Torrece "T" Gregoire came on the 14th season of "Hell's Kitchen" with a determination not to get flustered by Gordon Ramsay's thunderous ways and avoid needless confrontations with other cooks.

She pulled off both with aplomb, revealing energy, humor and grace, as well as admirable cooking skills and kitchen management. She is now in the finals, which air Tuesday night. She could pocket $250,000 and nab a job at Caesar's in Atlantic City.

The show was taped more than 18 months ago so she has had to keep the results to herself for a long time.

Based on performance and Ramsay's commentary to date, T enters the season 14 finale airing Tuesday June 9 at 9 p.m. as a slight underdog against Roanoke executive chef Meghan Gill, a calm, steady force in the kitchen.

"She has slightly more experience than I do," said T, who is 32.

UPDATE: June 9, 2015: She did not win. Meghan took the prize. T kind of gave it away to me when she said she fell into a depression after the competition. Winning doesn't tend to create depression. But 18 months later, she clearly appears to be in a good place.

Soon after the season began airing on Fox in March, T landed her first executive chef job at Lilburn's Three Blind Mice, which fashions itself as a Buckhead-style craft bar with American regional cuisine.

"It's off the beaten path," she said. "It's industrial but vintage and classy at the same time."

T said her time on the show matured her in so many ways. She learned teamwork. ("Before this, it was all about me, me, me.") She appreciated Ramsay's attention to detail, ensuring that every dish that comes out of the kitchen is to his exacting standards. She picked up problem-solving skills. She said he helped prepare her to be the executive chef she is now. And those challenges meant thinking on her feet.

"It allowed me to basically deconstruct food faster than I ever had," she said. "I had to raise the bar and excel."

On the show, the pressures of the competition combined with fatigue and a purely verbal system when it comes to food orders (which isn't common) add up to plenty of potential screw ups that "Hell's Kitchen" thrives upon. But T rarely messed up as she watched fellow castmates fall one by one.

She said the set felt like a restaurant in terms of equipment. The one thing she didn't have to worry about: food costs. The producers always provided them with the best ingredients.

Best rewards: tribal dancing in Arizona and hanging at Laguna Beach.

Toughest challenge: working with alligator. "It's very rubbery if not cooked right," she said. "We only had 30 minutes so I marinated it in tequila and fried it."

Most disappointing loss: This past Tuesday's challenge feeding upper-crust musicians. She thought her lobster with creme fraiche would be a hit. It wasn't. She thinks because it was cold and people were expecting something hot, it belied expectations.

Bad habit invigorated: She had quit smoking before taping but given the stress levels on the show, she started again.

What they couldn't control: Besides working 16 hours a day, the cast members had no control over lights or AC. But they could request whatever foods they wanted and the production team would provide it.

Most annoying aspect: Listening to people bitch and moan. And Michelle, she said, was young and didn't always know when to shut up.

T Gregoire with her high-end TBM burger at Three Blind Mice in Lilburn. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/

Credit: Rodney Ho

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Credit: Rodney Ho

The native New Yorker has a daughter and a girlfriend, both who showed up in the penultimate episode this past Tuesday. She is still with said girlfriend.

T, who goes by that shortened name because it's easier for people to remember than her real name, said after taping the show in the fall of 2013, she fell into a depression. She wasn't sure what she wanted to do. (Although she couldn't tell me whether she won or not, I'm not sure if the depression might imply the result.)

Then a mentor Jonathan Jerusalmy offered her a gig at Sea Island where he is resort executive chef and director of culinary. T's confidence came back after working with him for a year. "It rounded off my food technique," she said. "It prepared me for my role as an executive chef. I was his protege."

In January, she also put together a website, she said, which "bridges between food, art and fashion" called And she returned to Gwinnett County in time to land the gig at Three Blind Mice.

T's grouper in fennel broth and seasonal vegetables available at Three Blind Mice. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/

Credit: Rodney Ho

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Credit: Rodney Ho

Beers & Spirits Director Jerad Henry's Pollen Count drink featuring cathead honeysuckle vodca, prosecca, pierre ferrand dry orange curacao, cucumber, basil and sparkling water on the rocks. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/

Credit: Rodney Ho

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Credit: Rodney Ho


"Hell's Kitchen" season 14 finale, 9 p.m. Tuesday, June 9, Fox


Three Blind Mice, 1066 Killian Hill Rd SW #101, Lilburn