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'I wanted him to yell at me'

By Mark Washburn
TV/Radio Writer

Hell's Kitchen

9 p.m. Thursdays, Fox, Channel 18

Lacey D'Angelo of Charlotte so adores Gordon Ramsay, the volcanic chef at the center of Fox's “Hell's Kitchen,” that she'd just love to get yelled at by him.

D'Angelo is one of 16 contestants on the show's fifth season, debuting tonight, and says she didn't really get her wish fulfilled.

“He wouldn't yell at me. I wanted him to yell at me,” says D'Angelo, 25, a cake decorator at a Charlotte bakery.

“I've been a huge fan of the show since the beginning, and I thought it would be fun to be there and get yelled at. Because Gordon is a really funny guy.”

D'Angelo tried out for the show at a casting call in Pineville in 2007. Three other Charlotte-area chefs – Ben Caylor, Dominic DiFrancesco and Louis Petrozza – were picked for last spring's show from that gathering, and she was told she was still in contention for another season. This year she got the call and went out to California in October and November for the filming.

“I enjoyed it,” she says. “It may not look like it. I've seen some of the commercials where I have these looks on my face. … You're basically going out there to be abused. It's so surreal. He's over 6 feet tall and he's in your face. I couldn't believe I was really there.”

D'Angelo and her family moved to Charlotte from South Plainfield, N.J., when she was 9. She went to Vance High School, graduating in 2001, then tried studying graphic design. She hated it.

“My mom said, ‘Well, you're always watching the Food Network – go to culinary school.'”

She did, enrolling in the culinary program at Central Piedmont Community College. There she found her calling, graduating in 2004.

Like anyone on a reality show, she's not sure how she's going to come off.

“I have no idea what they're going to show or not going to show. It's going to be a surprise even to me.”

Mark Washburn: 704-358-5007; mwashburn@charlotteobserver.com

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