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Woodstock chef comes out on top in Hell's Kitchen finale

Published: Friday, July 25, 2014 12:12 a.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, July 25, 2014 12:16 a.m. CDT
(Kyle Grillot – kgrillot@shawmedia.com)
Scott Commings, the executive chef at Loyola University Chicago Retreat and Ecology Campus in Woodstock, and his wife Tiffinni, celebrate as he is announced the winner of the 12th season of Hell's Kitchen at viewing party Thursday at the Main Street PourHouse in Woodstock. Around 300 people joined Commings for the for the final episode.

WOODSTOCK – After video of Scott Commings walking through a door to a waiting crowd to tell him he won season 12 of Hell’s Kitchen played on the TV, the standing-room only crowd at Main Street PourHouse cheered and started to chant “Scott, Scott, Scott.”

On Thursday night, Fox revealed Commings, the executive chef at Loyola University Chicago Retreat and Ecology Campus in Woodstock, won the show hosted by celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay.

In the finale, Commings defeated Chicago chef Jason Zepaltas in the show that was filmed last year in the Los Angeles-area.

After the episode, Commings was congratulated by fans both inside and outside of the bar, where an additional TV was set up for people to watch. People gave him hugs and handshakes, and took photos with him.

Inside the bar people sang along with the jukebox, which at one point played Celebration by Kool & the Gang.

Commings, of Woodstock, initially struggled during the season.

“The first part of the season I had a tough time just getting used to everything,” Commings said. “It’s a different way of cooking that any of us were used to, a completely different way of doing things in the kitchen. Everyday you work, it’s like the first day of a new job. That’s what it feels like.”

Commings has been having viewing parties with friends and family at the Main Street PourHouse. Each week he moved on, the viewing parties became more crowded.

On the line in the finale episode was a $250,000-a-year job at one of Ramsay’s restaurants.

Before the episode aired, Commings thanked his friends and family, some of whom came from Wisconsin, Indiana and Boston.

Thomas Trausch was at the party and cheered as it was revealed Commings won.

“Local boy makes good,” Trausch said. “He worked his buns off. They deserve it. He earned it. The whole town of Woodstock is proud of him.”

Tim McGuriman, who is an associated vice president Loyola, hired Commings four years ago.

“I’m thrilled for him and his family, and what this could mean for Loyola University,” McGuriman said. “I’m grateful for everything he’s done for us. He’s an outstanding chef and better individual.”

Renae Fair, used to work with Commings at the Woodstock Country Club as a bartender. She said she pushed him to try out for Hell’s Kitchen.

“He makes amazing food,” Fair said. “He’s a very good boss. He’s very serious, very sincere. Nothing goes out of the kitchen unless it looks right, [and] tastes right.”

Commings said he wasn’t sure at first about doing the show, but he realized it was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

“I couldn’t pass it up,” Commings said.

“I learned a lot about paying attention to detail [for] that standard of restaurant,” Commings added. “I learned a lot about myself, and about what I could take and overcome.”

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