From the time he was a little boy cooking with his grandmother, making tamales from scratch, Jon Scallion knew he wanted to be a chef.

But the 27-year-old West York resident never expected he'd land a gig as one of the 20 contestants on "Hell's Kitchen."

The show that airs at 8 p.m. Tuesdays on Fox is a competitive cooking show in which master chef Gordon Ramsey critiques skills -- or lack thereof -- with a sharp tongue.

"It's intense," Scallion said. "You think you have an idea of what you're getting into, but it's way more than what you'd expect. We're rocking and rolling all day long."

Working with Ramsey can admittedly make a young chef a little nervous, he said.

"You don't want to be the guy he (says something negative to). He's really passionate about what he does," Scallion said.

Ramsey is always professional and stern, he said.

Learning: "No matter what he says -- even if he screams at you and makes you feel two inches tall -- it will make you a better chef," he said.

Scallion, a 2001 graduate of Susquehannock High School, views his time on the show as an incredible learning experience.

"I've learned so much about myself, my flaws, my style of cooking," he said.

After high school, Scallion attended culinary school in Baltimore and worked at restaurants there. When the commute became too expensive, he started working locally at Regents' Glen Country Club and Ironwoods Restaurant, the fine dining restaurant at Heritage Hills Golf Resort.

His goal as a chef is to "educate people and get them to step outside of their comfort zone," using different cooking styles and types of ingredients, he said.

"I also really want to promote sustainable agriculture," Scallion said.

Growth: Since February 2012 when he made it through an open casting call in Philadelphia, he has worked toward his goals and grown as a chef, he said.

"The whole experience has given me more confidence in the way I present myself in and out of the kitchen," Scallion said.

As one of 20 contestants, he's both part of a team and competing against the other chefs.

"I wanted to compete with others from all over the country. I'm hard on myself and wanted to gauge my ability. I just wanted to compete," Scallion said.