One-on-One With the Latest Red Team Recruit to Go Home — Worst Cooks in America by Maria Russo in Shows, February 24th, 2013
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For the 14 recruits competing on Worst Cooks in America, it’s the opportunity of a lifetime to learn kitchen basics and culinary how-tos from Anne Burrell and Bobby Flay — two of New York City’s top restaurant chefs and some of Food Network’s most celebrated stars. It’s up to the contestants to use the tools the chefs provide to learn how to master certain skills on their own and demonstrate progress in the kitchen. Despite their best efforts, however, one recruit from Chef Anne’s Red Team and another from Chef Bobby’s Blue Team will ultimately succumb to the challenges of Boot Camp week after week as they compete for $25,000 and bragging rights for their coach.
Check back with FN Dish every Sunday after the episode for the first interviews with the latest eliminated contestants to read their exclusive reflections on the competition, thoughts on difficult challenges, plans for the future and more.
At the start of week two of Boot Camp, the recruits ditched their aprons in favor of fishing poles, and took to the waters off the coast of New York City to reel in their own black sea bass. The focus of the week’s challenges was knife skills, and the fish plus various pieces of produce provided ideal vehicles to practice proper techniques on. While attempting to recreate Chef Anne’s seared bass and grapefruit salad side dish, Dr. Bob Schaefer cut himself and bled onto his finished plate, forcing his mentor to avoid tasting his offering. Come the Main Dish Challenge, the recruits found another whole animal to conquer, this time a chicken with its head and feet still attached. While Dr. Bob performed a successful spine-ectomy on his bird to replicate Chef Anne’s chicken scarpiello, he barely followed her recipe, adding extraneous ingredients and utilizing different cooking methods. Rasheeda, too, offered a disappointing dish, one that was incomplete because it was missing sauce. Together, she and Dr. Bob faced potential elimination, but ultimately Dr. Bob was sent home after Chef Anne questioned whether or not he was receptive to her lessons.
After the elimination, you explained, “I’m going to go home with my head held high because I gave it my best shot knowing that my abilities were nonexistent.” What is your greatest accomplishment during your time in Boot Camp?
BS: Bonding with the other contestants was without question the greatest accomplishment for me personally, because whenever you put together a group of people from such diverse segments of the population there can be friction. I was able to get to know each one of the other contestants during Boot Camp, and I respect them for their unique qualities. They’re now a special part of my life, and I truly hope to meet them again.
What element of Boot Camp were you least expecting?
BS: I had no idea what to expect, from the layout of the kitchen and equipment to the rush of adrenaline that courses through you when you first begin Boot Camp — it was all very intimidating to be so far out of my comfort zone. I’m used to helping others become more confident and improving their health. The fact that I was the one with no control and had to ask for help in the cooking arena was new for me, and slightly humbling. It turned out to be a good thing.
Chef Anne said that “you were the most successful at butchering your chicken” in your final Main Dish Challenge. Did the knife skills Chef Anne taught come easy to you?
BS: Precision is an important skill to have as a doctor, so that was one thing that came slightly easier to me. Which knife to use when cutting each ingredient? That’s an entirely different thing, and something the other contestants helped me a great deal with. They taught me how to hold the knives properly and which ones to use on which foods. I could not have done it without them.
“Now I’m leaps and bounds ahead of where I was and I can enjoy time spent with my wife in the kitchen on a whole new level,” you said after the competition. Have you showed off to your family any of your newly learned skills? What do they think of your cooking today?
BS: I do have a renewed sense of purpose in my life thanks to the show. As long as there are chefs out there, I’ll be able to eat, and I can do what I love and do best, which is helping others. I’m happy with my purpose in life. As far as my family, there is no better feeling than knowing I have their full support and love.
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