Chef Gabi Chappel cooks with Chef Gordon Ramsay on "Next Level Chef"

ICE Alumna Gabi Chappel is a “Next Level Chef”

Catch her on the third season of Fox's cooking competition show.

Chef Gabi cooks with Gordon Ramsay on "Next Level Chef." CR: Lorraine O’Sullivan / FOX. ©2024 FOX Media LLC.

Institute of Culinary Education alumna Gabi Chappel is leveling up on Fox’s “Next Level Chef.”

The Plant-Based Culinary Arts (formerly known as “Health-Supportive Culinary Arts”) graduate is one of the final competitors on the cooking competition show, hosted by Chefs Nyesha Arrington, Richard Blais and Gordon Ramsay. She’s also ICE New York’s 2024 Commencement Alumni Speaker and is set to speak at graduation on May 22, 2024.

ICE alumna Chef Gabi Chappel's "Next Level Chef" headshot
CR: Lorraine O’Sullivan / FOX. ©2024 FOX Media LLC.

Clearly, this is a huge year for Chef Gabi. She’s one of the last five chefs left on “Next Level Chef,” which eliminates one competitor a week. The show’s winner receives a $250,000 prize and year-long mentorship guidance from all three of the judges.

As of the time of this article, Chef Gabi has won four challenges out of the 13 episodes that have aired and has received extensive one-on-one direction and feedback from Chef Ramsay after he personally chose her as a member of his “team” for the show.

For Chef Gabi, who primarily cooks plant-based food, these wins are extra sweet, since they demonstrate her versatility. In episode eight, her New York strip steak was named the best dish of the episode.

“Anyone can cook a great steak,” Chef Gabi says. “But being able to elevate a dish utilizing spices, vegetables, other elements to make something unique, different and crave-able goes beyond a traditional style of cooking.”

She attributes much of her ability to think outside the flavor box to her training at ICE.

“I feel like at ICE, there were so many different flavors and different ways of looking at food,” Chef Gabi says. “I looked at food so differently, and I feel like it really helped me create my own perspective and my own spin on dishes — that ended up standing out in some ways.”

On the show, Chef Gabi is classified as a “social media chef,” which speaks to her background in food media and her current Instagram following of over 50,000. However, cooking professionally on TV was never originally in her plans, and her journey has been anything but conventional.

After graduating college with degrees in journalism and Spanish, she moved to New York City to work in production. A love of hosting and interviewing, born from Chef Gabi’s journalism background, led her to audition for various casting calls. Though she didn’t know it at the time, one of those calls was for the food media publication Epicurious.

“That was like a random casting call,” Chef Gabi says. “They didn't even say who it was for. They just asked for ‘people who like food,’ and I was like ‘That’s me!’”

That audition led her to work on Epicurious’ popular YouTube Series “Four Levels,” where Chef Gabi cooked as a “Level 2 Chef” — what she describes as a “pretty good home cook.” In the series, Chef Gabi’s dishes held their own against dishes from Chef and ICE alumna Esther Choi, Chef Rawlston Williams and ICE Pastry & Baking Arts Chef-Instructor Penny Stankiewicz, to name a few.

Shooting the “Four Levels” series reminded Chef Gabi just how much she loved cooking even though she was still working as a digital producer to pay her bills.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, it brought with it a wave of career inspiration for many Americans. For Chef Gabi, it felt like a sign. She reevaluated her life, quit her producing job and decided her future was in food.

“I was just like, ‘I'm doing it’ and I went to ICE,” she says. “That was my big step into making it my career. The rest is history.”

Chef Gabi and Gordon Ramsay on "Next Level Chef." CR: Lorraine O’Sullivan / FOX. ©2024 FOX Media LLC.
Chef Gabi and Gordon Ramsay on "Next Level Chef." CR: Lorraine O’Sullivan / FOX. ©2024 FOX Media LLC.

At ICE, Chef Gabi fondly remembers her time spent with Dean of Students Elliot Prag (who taught in the program at the time) and Director of Nutrition Celine Beitchman. Her time with both ICE Chefs taught her much about techniques, flavors, nutrition, sustainability and so much more.

One of Chef Celine’s quotes particularly sticks with Chef Gabi as a guiding light for her current career in the spotlight. While Chef Celine was teaching a class about quality ingredients, she told the group that though their small community cared deeply about nutrition and the sourcing of ingredients, the world at large didn’t feel the same way.

“Chef Celine said ‘It’s nearly impossible to get that message out to the masses. I don't know what it's going to take. But, hopefully, at some point, someone can do it.’ And I remember at that point, as she said that I was thinking, ‘I want to be that person,’” Chef Gabi recalls. “That stuck with me. And so here I am, I'm out there and I'm doing it. I'm in the public eye in a way that I never necessarily imagined. But — that's the goal.”

Chef Gabi carried out her externship at Olmsted in Brooklyn, where she found herself working in a high-volume kitchen at an acclaimed restaurant. From there, she ventured into the world of creating pop-up dinners with special plant-based menus curated for each season, which she loved.

She strongly believes that working the line at a restaurant is only one of many varied ways to engage as an artist in the world of food. But, she says, like any artistic venture, lots of practice is required.

“Even if you don't want to work in a restaurant, find some other outlet to cook regularly and to cook consistently,” she says. “Because putting in those reps really adds credibility to what you're doing and helps you develop your style.”

If her career is any indication, practice often pays off.

Chef Gabi Chappel tastes a dish on "Next Level Chef." CR: Lorraine O’Sullivan / FOX. ©2024 FOX Media LLC.
Chef Gabi tastes a dish on "Next Level Chef." CR: Lorraine O’Sullivan / FOX. ©2024 FOX Media LLC.

Though working as a social media chef wasn’t Chef Gabi’s original plan, she’s embraced it. Her favorite part of “Next Level Chef” is the mentorship she’s gotten from working with Chefs Ramsay, Arrington and Blais and that’s what she’s taking away, regardless of whether she wins or loses.

Chef Gabi will soon be sharing her advice and guidance with ICE graduates at commencement on May 22. Leading up to the ceremony, Chef Gabi can be found competing on “Next Level Chef” on Fox, airing on Thursdays at 8 pm ET/5 pm PT.

Though Chef Gabi is open to competing on TV again, her future plans are to create more pop-up dinner events and to share the knowledge she’s learned from her years in the industry.

“I feel that I'm at a point where I can now start to just make some of this knowledge more available to other people,” she says. “Whether that's through video, through experiences, through classes or through other foundations. I am most excited to start teaching people or helping people learn more about these things that I'm incredibly passionate about.”

Chef Gabi Chappel hugs a fellow contestant on "Next Level Chef." CR: Lorraine O’Sullivan / FOX. ©2024 FOX Media LLC.
Chef Gabi Chappel hugs a fellow contestant on "Next Level Chef." CR: Lorraine O’Sullivan / FOX. ©2024 FOX Media LLC.

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