Heather West defeated Virginia Dalbeck to be crowned the winner of Fox's Hell's Kitchen 2 during last night's special two-hour broadcast of the Gordon Ramsay reality cooking competition's second edition finale.

As Hell's Kitchen 2's winner, Heather, a 26-year-old sous chef from Port Jefferson, NY, received the executive chef position at the T-Bones Chophouse & Lounge restaurant in the Red Rock Casino Resort Spa, a new Las Vegas casino that opened in April. In addition to becoming T-Bones' executive chef, Heather also received an undisclosed "financial interest" in the restaurant.

"Oh my god... oh my god," a tearful Heather exclaimed after opening an unlocked Hell's Kitchen restaurant door that revealed her victory and a cheering crowd of supporters. "Thank you Chef, thank you," Heather told Gordon as she hugged him.

"Heather won Hell's Kitchen due to her determination. She stuck to what she knew best and she controlled her kitchen from start to finish," Gordon explained to the cameras. "Heather clearly has great leadership qualities and this, for a 25-year-old cook, is a phenomenon -- this woman is going to be a big success."

"I'm so happy, I can not believe I won, it feels like a dream," a somewhat more composed but clearly still elated Heather told the show's cameras during a later confessional. "I get to live my dream... my life has just has just changed drastically."

"Extraordinary, and I really mean that, you have nothing to ever to be ashamed about," Gordon, in an uncharacteristic public display of compassion, told a dejected Virginia as Heather began accepting congratulations from her family and some of the show's previously eliminated contestants.

Despite her obvious disappointment, Virginia, a 26-year-old salad chef from New York, NY, was gracious in defeat. "I feel totally happy for Heather," she told the cameras during her own subsequent confessional. "I trust Chef Ramsay's decision enough and I know that one day I'll be as good as Heather."

Although competitive while appearing on the show, Heather and Virginia say they have become good friends since Hell's Kitchen's taping concluded. "We are great friends now, but when you are there, you're in the zone," Heather told the Calgary Sun last week. "All you want to do is win."

Unlike Hell's Kitchen 1 winner Michael Wray (who initially turned down the show's Los Angeles working restaurant set that was originally intended to serve as the first season's grand prize in favor of an offer to work at Ramsay's world-famous London restaurant and then later changed his mind on relocating to London), Heather apparently plans to follow through with the show's prize.

In a scene taped three months after her victory, Hell's Kitchen 2's finale broadcast ended with Red Rock Casino Resort Spa president Scott Kreeger (who, along with his wife Suzette, served as the finale dinner service's special guest diners) introducing Heather to the restaurant's staff.

"I'm very happy my parents are here, we've been through a lot, so this is dedicated to them," Heather -- once again tearful -- told the assembled restaurant staffers. "And to Gordon Ramsay, especially to him, he put me through hell literally. Thank you very much, cheers."

Last month, Fox announced that it has renewed both Hell's Kitchen and So You Think You Can Dance (which will air its own season finale on Wednesday) for third seasons. The new editions of both shows will air as part of Fox's Summer 2007 programming.