Worst Cooks in America. . . Really.

by 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

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Comments (64)

  1. jean fox says:

    I love the show! I am sure due to time the lessons are edited and it is cooking Boot Camp. The contestants seem glad to be there and know it is hard. My first 6 months of karate was the most difficult and humlilating and I stck with it. Oh yeah, no one gave me 25,000 dollars either.

  2. Doug says:

    What is the electric range the contestants are cooking on? Some kind of smoothtop electric?

  3. dmr says:

    how long did it actually take to film this show from start to finish? i noticed in the episode where jen c. dropped the crustinis that the tattoo on her right arm wasnt finished, but in the final episode it was fully colored and didnt look like a fresh tatoo. just wondering

  4. Debi Dandurand says:

    Love the show, love Anne, I admire and respect Anne. I love to cook, I watch nothing but food network, I go online looking for recipies and make them for my family. Anne I would love to see the food network come up with a show where people like myself could come and cook with their favorite chef, maybe even compete against another chef and fan. I would behonored to have the oppportunity to work with Anne. Hope to hear from you… Maybe the show would work and I could be a contestant… You never know… Love and ahppy tummies

  5. Chris says:

    I thought Jen should have won, her food was much better, and she didn’t jump up and down and get confused and turns around in a circle, and also says Mommy

    • chill says:

      Ditto
      Melting down happens to the best of us at one time or another. Give Jenny Cross a scholarship!

      • Guest says:

        YES!! And then Food Network could film her progress in culinary school. She seems to have something really special. And the relationship with her grandmother is something else!

  6. Alexandra says:

    I also found this show painful to begin with because I want folks to enjoy cooking and the process of discovering thier passion, like I have. Nothing better than "This is the best meal you have EVER made", years later!!! Quiet yummmmmm grunting is the best compliment I can ever GET! Everyone should have that wonderful moment at least once in life! Cudos to all who stepped up! Jen and Jen etc.,,,

  7. MinnieBarker says:

    From the comments posted here, it seems like some people expected this to be a nice little "learn to cook" show. It's not. It's a COMPETITION with a $25,000 prize. Food Network has tons of "learn to cook" shows where any of these contestants could have watched step by step cooking lessons, but they wanted the prize. And we already know from the explosion of reality shows on TV that ordinary people are perfectly willing to subject themselves to all kinds of unpleasant circumstances for a chance at the prize.

    If you want to take a $25,000 prize, and you've only got six weeks to hone your skills, you shouldn't expect your coach to be super sweet and hold your hand. I don't think Anne or Beau were too harsh at all, and I don't think anyone who has trained under a professional coach in a competitive environment would think so either. If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen.

    • ilsita says:

      Yanno, just because I think the show is terrible doesn't mean I don't realize that it's a competition. I really think that this competition was just plain ill-conceived, and therefore utterly excruciating to watch. It's a disappointment, because it could have been great.

      Imagine, for instance, that each contestant was paired up with a professional chef, and the two of them had to work as a team to win. It would be really exciting. We'd get to see a creative cook at work; we'd get to see someone pushing themselves to learn something; we'd get the competition; we'd get the drama (maybe chef and amateur have clashing personalities?)…

      I'd watch that.

  8. Ann says:

    I thought Jenny was going to win. I thought Jenny should have won.
    Kepp on cooking, Jenny!

    • chickme says:

      Jenny would have won if Beau hadn't messed with her
      recipe by having her add mussels or whatever it was
      which made her dish too sweet. I hope she pursues
      her interest in cooking…she came a long way. I also
      agree with most of the posts that it was painful to watch
      and if there's another one some drastic changes are needed
      or I won't be watching.

      • luvcookin says:

        I wanted Jenny to win too. Another thing that made her sauce too sweet was that she added 3/4 cup of brown sugar instead of 1/3 cup which is what the recipe called for. I really hope she pursues her dream of cooking school. You know that might be a good show too! Have a competition and the winner gets free tuition at a culinary school! I'd watch!

  9. luvcookin says:

    I rewatched the finale tonight. Here's my thoughts:

    - I can't stand Jeffrey Steingarten. He's rude and how dare he ask "How could you be so bad" when he doesn't even know how to hold his fork the correct way. I've noticed this when he's on Iron Chef America and Next Iron Chef. He's just rude and needs to be reigned in.
    - Since Rachael won, hopefully she can take some of the $25,000 and get glasses that fit her face. The ones she has are too big. She looks like Velma from Scooby Doo cartoons. And bless her heart! That dress looked like it belonged on a 90 year old! She's too young to dress that old.
    - I hope Jenny continues her desire to go to cooking school. She really improved and I hope she pursues her dream.
    - While Anne can be brusqe, I think that is just her manner. Beau wasn't any better. I've never met a professional chef that didn't have a big ego. Chefs and fighter pilots, both have big egos.

  10. Liz says:

    I was a big fan of the show. Food Network should pay to send Jenny to cooking school, though – she was so passionate about what she was learning. I would love to see some after-the-show reactions from the judges. What went through their mind?

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