'Hell's Kitchen' champ Sivley kept it real

Former Fort Worth resident Nona Sivley says she can't put her finger on one factor that helped her win season eight of Fox's cooking competition Hell's Kitchen. But in the end, it probably came down to the food she and her team served to Hell's Kitchen diners in the finale.

"I thought about my menu, and I thought about what I would like to eat, what my family would like to eat, what my friends would like to eat," Sivley said during a phone interview Thursday morning after winning the Wednesday finale. "That's what I'm going to go for. I don't want to make anything that wouldn't interest the people that I love in my life. I mean, that's what cooking's all about, right? You want to make somebody else happy with your food."

In the finale, the Atlanta-based Sivley -- with help from a handpicked team of former contestants -- beat Russell Kook, a sous chef from Madison, Wis. Although he was consistently strong in the kitchen, Kook was known for a cocky and abrasive nature while Sivley, despite the occasional outburst that happens to every Hell's Kitchen contestant, was known for being steady in the kitchen.

"If you lose your focus and you start to spiral, you're going to be out of control," she said. "And I don't understand why you'd want to treat someone like [Kook treated teammates] anyway. You don't really want to act a fool, because nothing's going to get accomplished."

Sivley -- who was raised in Garland, lived for six years in Fort Worth and is a 2008 graduate of the Culinary School of Fort Worth -- says she had a lot of support from her husband, Curtis. He took care of their son, Jackson, who was 7 months old when she auditioned for the show and turned 1 during filming.

"My husband knew that this is what I wanted to do," Sivley said. "He knew that my heart was in it. He supported me 100 percent. And that's what's so great, is that I knew my son was taken care of better than anybody could, because he was taken care of by his dad. He really stepped up and showed me how wonderful he really could be."

With the win, Sivley will become head chef at the L.A. Market at the JW Marriott in downtown Los Angeles.

Robert Philpot, 817-390-7872