Best Celebrity Chef - 2009
Paula DaSilva, 3030 Ocean chef de cuisine
You could have knocked thousands of Florida Hell's Kitchen fanatics over with a pastry brush when 3030 Ocean chef de cuisine Paula daSilva was picked to be one of 16 contestants on this season's show — the mad reality program in which aspiring young chefs brave the wrath of Scottish sadist Gordon Ramsey. At first, the diminutive DaSilva hardly stood out from the Kitchen's recent pack of drama queens — she kept her head down and her nose to the cutting board while Ramsey aimed obscenities and an occasional plate of food at one inept contestant after another. As the weeks wore on, DaSilva gradually began to assert herself with her quiet competence — our girl didn't wreck a sauce or drop a pan through many nights of mayhem, and she didn't brag, gloat, squabble, or sulk while her competitors were talking nonstop trash. By the time she turned out a faultless little fish dish, concocted on the spot in 90 minutes, for 100 of California's most celebrated executive chefs and restaurateurs (she looked so cute beaming in their applause), we thought for sure that our girl had nailed it. Even though in the end it wasn't DaSilva who scooped up the grand prize of $250,000 and her own restaurant at Borgata, she'd won something just as important: She walked away with our hearts tucked safely into her apron pocket.