They are celebrating in Phillipsburg, N.J., after hometown chef Christina Wilson took the title Monday night on Gordon Ramsey's reality show, "Hell's Kitchen."

"I'm so happy!" exclaimed childhood friend Raymond Patt. "She made the whole town of Phillipsburg happy."

Wilson survived challenges from 17 other contestants, and judging from the famously temperamental Ramsey, to take the title before a national TV audience on FOX.

"I'm super excited for her, super proud of her," said Amanda Buss, another childhood friend.

But cooking was not Wilson's first calling.

"No, no!", said her mother, Colleen Laros. "Absolutely not!"

Instead, Wilson was an athlete -- a self-described "tomboy."

"When we were younger, she would cook for the basketball team," said Buss, "and all I got was grilled cheese and Spaghetti Os."

During college at Temple University, Wilson volunteered at restaurants and moved up fast.

"She worked for [a chef] -- I think it was, like, two or three weeks -- and he said, 'Christina, I can't not pay you anymore!'", said Laros. "Because she was already more advanced than he had known."

For Wilson's mom, who was there as the finale was taped months ago, the win has been the hardest secret to keep.

Now, Wilson's prize is a chef's dream job: executive chef at Gordon Ramsey's newest restaurant in the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas. The job also comes with a $250,000 a year salary.

Asked if she can handle the pressure, Patt responded: "I think she did. She did a great job."