A contestant on last year's season of Hell's Kitchen was found dead in his home on Thursday, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. Paulie Giganti, who competed on season 16 of the reality show, was the former chef at Birra, a restaurant located in South Philadelphia.
“It is an accidental death by drug intoxication,” James Garrow, spokesperson for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, told the outlet, although the office declined to release the type of drug responsible.
According to Birra owner Gordon Dinerman, Giganti left the restaurant back in November. Dinerman says he'll miss the chef, who he credits with a major part of the restaurant's success.
"He brought a consistency to our product which is why we are still around," Dinerman said. "We did a little bit better than a lot of people because of him."
In an interview last year with My Take On TV, Giganti said that his cooking background was much more DIY than that typical chefs.
“I never went to school for cooking," he admitted in the interview. "I was going to be an engineer. I just wanted to see how I stacked up against other guys, like 'school-y' guys and other people."
Being thrust into the spotlight — and occasionally going head-to-head with Gordon Ramsay himself — gave Giganti the confidence to cook, but didn't change his philosophy.
"It’s like a girlfriend – you know, you break up with them," he said about leaving the show. "It doesn’t meant that you change yourself."
In terms of his future, he didn't have any set plans. That's how he approached life.
"I’ve never been one of those kinds who has an ultimate goal; I kind of just go with the flow," he explained to My Take On TV. "Some people have the desire to get to one point. My path chose me, so in that respect, you never know what’s coming down the pike."
"It is still sinking in," Dinerman told the Inquirer about the loss. "He was definitely a character."
Our hearts go out Paulie Giganti's family. He'll be forever remembered for his talent, both onscreen and off.
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