Will Artley wasn’t supposed to amount to much after he was kicked out of his New York high school 18 years ago.
With dozens of patrons, family members and supporters surrounding him at the watch party in his honor, Artley, 35, said he doesn’t have any ill feelings toward the administration at his old high school.
“It was a reflection of 18 years for me,” Artley said. “It was fun being on the show because I just let it go.”
The crowd at the Falls Church pizzeria snacked on pizza fritters and drinks as the popular cooking show was showed on two large screens. Artley arrived at Pizzeria Orso in February after leaving Evening Star Cafe and serving as purveyor of February’s Project 2312 pop-up restaurant. Upon his arrival, Artley revamped the menu at the restaurant and developed a kitchen staff of diverse backgrounds.
The anxious crowd cheered every time Artley appeared on television and cheered louder when he made it to the final round. With the suspense rising throughout the restaurant, Artley casually walked around shaking hands and smiling. For the chef, the show was the first time he has gone in a kitchen without some very important ingredients.
“When I got there I realized it was the first time I was without my team,” Artley said. “I had all this help all these years and it was my first time without that. I realized how great my team made me.”
The crowd gasped when the lid was removed from the last dish and revealed Artley’s dessert. Before long, the crowd clapped for the local chef who through it all, kept a smile on his face.
Jessica Suworoff, of Falls Church, said she stops by the restaurant at least once or twice a month to eat and was excited to learn Artley was going to be on the show. Even though he didn’t win the cash prize, Suworoff said Artley and the restaurant still won.
“It’s really exciting to see they got some attention,” she said.
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