Dayton native Ashley Nickell returns to Hell’s Kitchen this season. Photo from Ashley Nickell Facebook page

Young chef with local ties will again try to survive ‘Hell’s Kitchen’

Dayton-area native and chef Ashley Nickell is coming back for a second helping.

The 30-year-old Nickell — who lived in Germantown and attended Valley View schools until she moved to Florida at age 10 to join her father, chef and restaurant owner Eddie Nickell — made it to the top 3 out of 18 contestants on the 15th season of Hell’s Kitchen with the mercurial and notoriously foul-mouthed Gordon Ramsay in early 2016.

And this fall, Nickell will return to the Fox show for its 17th season, dubbed “Hell’s Kitchen All Stars,” in which all of the contestants are returnees. The 2017-18 series’ 17th season makes its debut on the Fox network on Sept. 29.

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Nickell’s mother, Beverly Lewis-Mann, and many other family members still live in the Germantown area, and Ashley visits periodically. She previously served as chef d’cuisine at Funky Monkey Wine Company, an Orlando, Florida wine bar co-owned by her father, and previously owned and operated her own eatery, Restaurant Ash, in Orlando.

“Ohio will always hold a special place in my heart,” Ashley told this news outlet in March 2016 after her elimination in Hell’s Kitchen’s season 15. “I have such amazing support from my mother and father.”

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Eddie Nickell’s Dayton-area ties run even deeper than his daughter’s. He was raised in Miamisburg, and held several restaurant positions in the Dayton area before moving to Florida. He was a server at Rene’s At the Dayton Marriott, manager of Delphine’s at Holiday Inn Dayton Mall, and, for four years in the early 1990s, was service captain at the prestigious, now-defunct l’Auberge restaurant in Kettering. He and partner Nicholas Olivieri today operate a half-dozen restaurants in the Orlando area.

Here’s what Ashley had to say about her experience on Hell’s Kitchen after her elimination episode aired in early 2016:

“What an epic ride this has been! While I didn’t make the top two, I’m filled with nothing but gratitude and inspiration. Getting on the show, and being in the top three is an enormous honour I do not take lightly. This experience and the people I met and got to know along the way has changed me profoundly in ways I cannot begin to explain.”

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“Even though my chapter on Hell’s Kitchen came to a close today, the road ahead is paved with creativity and passion. Thank you to Chef Gordon Ramsay as well ass Chef Christina Wilson and the entire team at Hell’s Kitchen for this life-changing opportunity, my family and friends, and all the fans who kept me going week after week.”

“Never let anyone tell you your dreams are too big,” she said.

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