Richmond chef competes on "Hell's Kitchen"

A local chef who may have made you a pizza is coming to your TV. The executive chef at Stuzzi in Carytown is competing on the show "Hell's Kitchen" on the Fox Network.

You can't get more Italian than having a name like Clemenza Caserta. And Italian cooking is in his blood.

"My whole family are cooks, my mom, my uncle, my dad, everybody," he told us, rubbing his stomach. "We're Italian, we love to eat."

Clemenza splits his time between being executive chef at Stuzzi in Carytown, at his family's catering company in New York, and most recently as a competitor on the Fox show "Hell's Kitchen."

"I said if most of these people can get on, there's no reason I can't get on," he recalled.

He thought he blew the first interview, but says he nailed the second. "They're going to ask you the most strangest, weirdest questions to see how you react, to see if you get embarrassed, to see if you laugh, to see if you handle it."

But it was the yelling by the show's star, Chef Gordon Ramsay, that he had to get used to.

"You see all the yelling on TV," Clemenza described, "and that's great and it's real. Believe me it's real. Because I got yelled at many times. But he's the type of guy, he'll work with you, he'll give you the shirt off his back."

Clemenza is one of 18 chefs competing on the show's 10th season to win a position under executive chef Kevin Hee at Gordon Ramsay Steak in Las Vegas.

He was already comfortable on camera. He's had bit parts in the movies "A Bronx Tale" and "Great Expectations," playing the man who stabs and kills Robert DeNiro, who in real life is a family friend. But seeing himself on a "Hell's Kitchen" preview was still a shock.

"I didn't remember the scene that's on the trailer. It was like, 'Did I do that?' You forget. You focus and you forget some of the things that you do or say."

"Hell's Kitchen" could be Clemenza's big break. He shot a mini-cooking segment that he posted on MySpace in 2007, practicing for his dream of hosting his own cooking show one day.

"I want my own cooking show," he told us. "I definitely want to go after my own show. There's no question in my mind."

"Hell's Kitchen" premiers on Fox Richmond on Monday, June 4th and Tuesday, June 5th at 8:00 p.m.