Worst Cooks in America. . . Really. by Kirsten Vala in View All Posts, January 9th, 2010
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If you’re a reality show addict like I am, you’re sure to love Food Network’s newest, high-drama competition show, Worst Cooks in America (Sundays at 10pm/9c). Chefs Anne Burrell and Beau MacMillan lead two teams of aspiring cooks through culinary boot camp and into competition. For the best of the worst: a grand prize of $25,000. I caught up with Anne and Beau recently to chat about what Beau calls “one of the most drama-filled, suspense-filled, exciting shows in the history of Food Network.”
Kirsten: What advice do you have for people who think they’re bad cooks?
Anne: Get a cookbook, get a good one and then use it. Don’t just wing it because if you’re not a good cook and you know you’re not a good cook, writing recipes – you’re not going to be good at it. Use it, love it, learn it.
Beau: You’ve gotta have desire. People fail once and all of a sudden they’re a bad cook. We’ve been in this business our whole lives, and you’re a student every day you walk into the kitchen. You can be humbled very quickly, so don’t give up on yourself. It’s not going to happen overnight.
Kirsten: What three ingredients would you give a new cook?
Anne: I’d give them my holy trinity, which is salt, olive oil and bacon. Those are the flavor basics to any good dish.
Beau: Swine is devine; it’s where it’s at. Anne says bacon makes everything better, and I totally agree.
Anne: That’s where I live, in bacon land.
Kirsten: Tell me a little bit about the competition between the two of you in this show.
Anne: I was unprepared for the reality of reality. So, when contestants started to cry or get so nervous, I was unprepared for that. But I was also unprepared for my own feelings of super competitiveness between me and Beau. It was really real and serious, and there was no way I was letting things slide.
Beau: You see these competitors come in and they have to compete, but the same type of [competitive] feelings build between us as well. As a chef you’re a control freak and you’re in control at all times, but in this situation you have to rely on your team. It was hard on Anne and me because you can only instruct, you cannot help. It became very stressful for us.
Anne: There was definitely very real competition and there were times when we had some smack talking. People might have thought that was staged, but no, that was very real. There was some smack going on and I think the contestants definitely noticed.
Kirsten: Why do you think this show is a must-watch? What’s the best part about the show?
Anne: There’s a crazy cast of characters, between the chef-testants and the chef chefs, but also, it really shows the inner strength that people have and the will and want to succeed. You really want to root for the underdog.
Beau: Yeah, I remember day one, Anne and I were sitting there critiquing the food and we though “Wow, Food Network did an awesome job of picking these people, but it’s got to get better than this,” but it just kind of crashed. But it’s funny, whenever I talk about the show, the biggest reaction I get from people is “I should be on that show. I should be a worst cook.” And I’m like, I didn’t know there were so many of you guys out there? I think it can relate to a lot of people.
Anne: It’s interesting because so many people know that they’re bad and they put themselves in a situation where they know they can learn. People really want to learn.
For me, the train-wreck qualities of this show make it a can’t miss. The first episode premiered last weekend, but you can see it again Sunday at 6pm/5c. New episodes air on Sundays, 10pm/9c. Check out our Worst Cooks in America show page for recipes, sneak peeks, contestant bios and more about Anne and Beau.
- Kirsten, Web Editor