Chef Jessica Vogel, a former contestant on Fox’s dies at 34
Chef Jessica Vogel, a former contestant on Fox’s Hell’s Kitchen show with Gordon Ramsay and Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen, died Monday morning. She was 34.
Her fiancé, John Michael Keyser said Vogel was being treated for colitis, a chronic inflammatory bowel disease, at a hospital in southern New Jersey when “her heart gave out.”
Vogel competed in Season 12 of the Fox reality show, which aired in spring 2014. She auditioned while working at a creperie and bakery in California, but at the time her season began production, she was working as a sous chef at a personal catering company and bistro. She won three challenges and finished 12th out of 20 contestants.
In February 2016, she made a one-time return to reality TV, competing in a chocolate-themed Season 11 episode of Cutthroat Kitchen, hosted by Food Network personality Alton Brown.
Vogel, who proudly called herself a “Jersey girl,” was until recently a resident of Westwood. She grew up in Spring Lake. Vogel temporarily had moved to the shore three months ago to be with family, Keyser said.
Her father is a critical care specialist in Ridgewood.
After training at Johnson & Wales’ culinary school in Denver, she returned home to New Jersey to begin her career at Kevin’s Thyme in Ho-Ho-Kus. She also worked as a pastry chef under Christine Nunn at restaurants Grange in Westwood and Picnic on the Square in Ridgewood.
She later served as executive chef of Black Rebel Burger in Hackensack, until it closed last year.
Though Vogel was being treated for colitis at the time of her death, the tall, thin, blond chef seemed to acknowledge she had drinking problem in a Medium.com post from October, which has since been deleted.
“When my sister says start a blog, the narcissistic alcoholic in me thinks me and I. Perfect. I’m (expletive) up. Truly. Sure. I was on Hells kitchen with Chef Ramsay and Cutthroat Kitchen on Food Network. I went to culinary school in Denver, grew up at the Jersey shore was raised by Mormon nannies in a mansion, dated a coastie and had a stint of living near strippers in St. Pete, Fl.
“I’m weeks away from 34 years old and got told I drink too much and have cirrhosis. 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? (Expletive) that noise. … 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…”
Keyser said he talked to Vogel a week ago. “We were planning to open a restaurant together,” he said. “My heart is breaking.”
Fair Lawn-based chef Nunn said she knew Vogel well.
“She knew more about the Bergen County dining scene than just about anyone,” Nunn said. “She was really a talented chef who never reached her potential. It’s a shame.”
Chef Beth Taylor-Murray, who was on Season 12 along with Vogel, said she had spoken to Vogel six months ago.
“She wanted a recipe for Popeye’s chicken,” she said, because Taylor-Murray had worked there while in high school.
“I loved her,” Taylor-Murray said. “She was a kind soul. We all have our issues and problems. I just want her to be at peace.”
Vogel’s family could not be reached for comment. Keyser said he did not yet know about funeral arrangements.