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Why did you need or want to be on Worst Cooks in America?
I really needed to be on Worst Cooks because of my background and personality. I grew up a Hasidic Jew, so I was limited to eating only strictly kosher foods. While the community I grew up in did a reasonable job (considering the limited ingredients available) in presenting edible food, in no way did it prepare me for the range of food options I was presented with when I entered the normal secular world. Additionally, I have a childish palette that prefers chicken fingers and french fries. Combine all this with a healthy dose of A.D.D. and sprinkle in some A.D.H.D. for good measure and you can understand the horror that is me in the kitchen. I would love nothing more than to overcome my idiotic food issues and confront my fears of strange foods. My relationship and social interactions literally depend on it.
What was the most valuable tip or piece of advice that you received from Chef Anne?
The turning point for me in boot camp was when it Chef Anne finally got it through my thick skull that I can have fun in the kitchen without needing to resort to my usual shenanigans. Preparing food and adjusting recipes can incorporate all of a person’s creative energies without the need to be a comedian or clown. Focusing my positive energies on producing restaurant quality meals is a great challenge and the results are a lot more rewarding than the laughs I know I can get elsewhere. Bottom line: if you’re having fun in the kitchen, the food will reflect that.
What did you take away from the experience?
It sounds quite cliche, but this experience was really life-altering. Cooking, and food in general, is such an important part of our lives and having confidence in preparing delicious meals changes you in so many ways. I am an extremely extroverted and social person, and making meals and preparing dinners is something that I love doing routinely. I have very little patience at restaurants and always preferred to eat at home, but ordering in was usually the method employed in the past. Being able to now sit around and entertain and chat while preparing food is a wonderful aspect of hosting. When my girlfriend comes home after a long day’s work, she can rest while watching me cook for her. This is something I cherish and find cathartic. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still fun and loud, but it’s a lot more tolerable when I’m producing great results.
Will you continue to work on your culinary skills?
Without a doubt. I believe the Food Network will become my new network of choice. With the basic cooking skills I’ve now acquired, I cannot wait to incorporate new techniques and ideas into my repertoire. I always felt left out when people discussed recipes and preparation techniques. Now I cannot wait to chime in and be part of that culinary-inclined group. And by “chime in,” of course I mean interrupt and tell them how amazing my experience on the show was.
When you presented your final dish, how did you feel about it?
I was very nervous presenting my final dessert to the judges. Looking over at Georg’s dish, which looked really pretty, I thought I was in big trouble. Chef Anne and I had taken a safer dessert route and I really needed to win via taste to compensate for degree of difficulty. But Chef Anne was confident and supportive, saying “we got this in the bag, it’s not even close” throughout. I don’t know if she was being sincere or just trying to motivate me and have me keep my chin up, but it worked.
What advice would you give to future Worst Cooks competitors?
Don’t think about the money. I never did for a second, even in the final challenge. This experience, if you allow it to, will change your life for the better. Embrace it, enjoy it and make the most of it. Sure, it’s a competition and we are naturally inclined to want to win, but if you approach it as a learning experience and a great opportunity, I believe you will be rewarded in more ways than money.
What was the first dish or meal that you attempted to cook back at home after being eliminated? How did it go?
I went for the money shot, to quote Chef Anne. I made a beautifully seared steak with baby carrots and a potato cake. Yeah, those are the things I felt very confident preparing and knew would make a nice statement. Needless to say, it was greeted with ooohs and aaahs by my girlfriend. I smile as I recall the pride I had in presenting a restaurant-quality meal to someone who was tearing with joy.
What was your most memorable or funniest moment while shooting the show?
Oh wow, there were so many priceless moments that choosing one is so difficult. Especially considering we were isolated from the rest of society for so long, which only helped amplify everything and make it funnier and more memorable. It can be any of Priscilla’s patented long-winded speeches that went nowhere but did so with enthusiasm and gusto that had everyone literally crying from laughter. Or the countless Anna moments that were unintentionally so hilarious and loved. Then again it can be spending all day at the farm and having the pigs, goat and chickens go insane each time Chef Anne spoke up. Ultimately, I will have to select the seafood episode as the most horrifying, yet in hindsight hilarious, moment for me on the show. Spending so much time together in the penthouse, everyone knew of my insane fear of seafood and how I kept insisting that the episode in which we would be required to deal with them I will be going home. Entering the kitchen that morning in boot camp and having the entire place crack up as I stared in horror at the mountains of squid and shrimp was a moment I shall never forget.
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