By the end of the first evening, though, the fiery chef had already identified a clear frontrunner to win – Anthea Turner's husband, Grant Bovey.
After rustling up a club sandwich in the first challenge set for the stars – including Gary Lineker's fiancée Danielle Bux, rapper Ms Dynamite, Anthea, Shameless actor Jody Latham and ex-footballer Bruce Grobbelaar – property developer Grant was complimented by his mentor.
"You were the star of the show," Marco told the dad-of-thee, who confessed before Hell's Kitchen began that he and his wife are particularly competitive. "You connected with me. It means that I can trust you," added the celebrity chef.
While Grant was basking in rare praise from the 'enfant terrible' of the UK restaurant scene, two other celebrities were not so lucky. Comedian Adrian Edmondson and former Dynasty actress Linda Evans were the first two stars to come under fire from Marco after failing to deliver on the night. And, in a new twist to the programme, the pair have subsequently been relegated to waiter duty for Tuesday's show.
In a change from past series of Hell's Kitchen, not only will the Michelin starred chef demote the bottom two contestants to an evening of restaurant service, but he will also be in charge of firing the stars one by one. When just four remain, the public will be asked to vote.