The second season of Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off has been filled with challenges that have gone beyond the call of cooking and has had its share of celebrities pulling any antic at a chance of winning the competition. Though there can only be one winner, the runner-up also fought a tough battle this season to end up in the finale. FN Dish has the exclusive interview with the second-place celebrity contestant of Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off.
Last night’s finale had the final two celebrities, Carnie and Dean, competing against one another. The challenge required them to cook dinner for 11 special guests including celebrity chefs. They would have 90 minutes to create a three-course meal, which would be voted upon by the guests. At the end of the challenge, a winner would be announced and a $50,000 donation would be handed to his or her charity.
There were no advantages in this challenge; the playing field was evened out for both Carnie and Dean. The only hitch right off the bat was that neither knew what ingredients would be available in the kitchen. With that in mind, each celebrity had time to discuss a game plan with his or her mentor. Rachael wanted Carnie to focus on her type of comfort food and to forget about comparing herself to Dean. Guy wanted Dean to create a menu that was elegant and decadent using seafood and bone-in cuts of meat. Luckily, the two celebrities would have some help in the kitchen. Besides some nerves and anxiety, Carnie and Dean were able to pull off a fantastic dinner that truly impressed everyone.
When it came to critiquing the dishes, the dinner guests tended to agree that Dean’s dishes were very elaborate but also too complicated, and that Carnie’s were flavorful for the most part but some could have been plated better. Before announcing the winner, Rachael and Guy surprised the celebrities with two pieces of fantastic news: first, the runner-up would also receive a donation to his or her charity of $10,000. Second, Carnie’s and Dean’s families would be joining them for the announcement. The final result was an even bigger surprise to all — only one vote separated the two contestants. But in the end, Dean was declared the winner (read Dean’s interview here).
How did you feel competing against Dean in the final challenge?
Carnie Wilson: I feel nothing but love and respect toward Dean. I couldn’t feel competitive with him. I don’t feel that in my heart or gut. I knew it was a competition, but it was more like a competition between me and the judges, not really with Dean. I just feel that everybody has won. We’ve all talked about our charities. We’ve all made progress, made delicious food and faced our fears in the challenges. It felt good to be at that point. Beyond that it’s up to the judges and God.
How was it cooking almost like a professional?
CW: I’ve waited years and years to be able to cook in a kitchen professionally like this. I feel like I’m a professional cook now. I’ve cooked for these people who’ve tasted so many other people’s food, and I’ve gotten such praise. It felt so good. It’s like selling millions of records and pleasing people through the music. Now I’ve pleased people through their palates. Food is a big part of my life. It’s been a great source of pain at times — certain foods have been my Achilles’ heel. But no matter what, I still live to eat.
What did you think about the feedback on your dishes?
CW: I was actually surprised about the reviews. For the tuna dip, I thought I was going to be penalized for not having an appetizer as elaborate as Dean’s. I was very happy that they loved the pasta. I knew it was perfectly cooked. The sauce stuck to the noodles. They were happy and I was really happy. I did receive criticism about the shrimp not having enough punch from the lime and jalapeno, but I agree completely. I was so thrilled that they loved my dessert so much that they were licking their plates. Thank God I had one really strong dish with no negative comments.
What were you thinking when you heard the feedback on Dean’s dishes?
CW: I was actually thinking, “My God, I may have a chance.” Their evaluation of Dean’s dishes had equal praise and criticism.
What did you think when you found out the runner-up would also get a donation to his or her charity?
CW: It was such great news. It meant that even if I didn’t win, I still would win money for my charity, get the word out about autism and help those children.
What was it like having your family there?
CW: I was just so happy to have my daughters, my husband and my mom there. It was the warmest, most wonderful envelope of love and support. It meant so much to me that my mom was standing behind me; she’s my biggest soldier. I felt like I’d already made them proud no matter the outcome.
What was the first thing that came to your mind when they announced Dean had won?
CW: It was pure gratitude. I’m so happy for Dean. I had a feeling he was going to win. He deserved to win. Congratulations to Dean. He’s really gifted and I’m just honored to have stood next to him in the kitchen. I can’t believe that just one vote separated us. But I’m also elated, so happy and proud of myself. I’m 44 years old and I’ve overcome a lot of adversity in my life. This is an accomplishment I’m very proud of. I almost don’t believe I’ve gotten to do this with Rachael and Guy. How lucky am I? I won too. I’m so happy to give Dr. Stephen of the Autism Research Institute $10,000.
What is the biggest thing you learned about yourself through all of this?
CW: I’ve learned that I shouldn’t make myself worry about the little things. Now I want to apply some of these things to the way I go about my life. To pause, to chill and realize it will get done. It’s a really good lesson for me in many ways.
Do you have anything to say to Rachael?
CW: Rachael, thank you so much for believing in me. Thank you for being proud of everything I did and for sharing your knowledge, talent and experience. It’s been amazing having you on my side. You never gave up on me. Thank you!
What do you take away from this competition?
CW: I take away so much. I take away the accomplishment that I’ve made it through to the end. I gave so much. I gave 2,000 percent every single time. I’ve never worked that hard. It was mind-blowing, a true testament to my strength. I’m honored to have done this. I’m so grateful that they chose me to cook in the competition. They could have chosen many other celebrities. Thank you Food Network for giving me a shot.
After doing this competition, my culinary dreams have grown. I would love to one day go to culinary school and open up a bakery/cafe filled with wonderful desserts, comfort food and healthy alternative dishes too. I would love my own cooking show!
What’s next for you?
CW: The first thing I want to do after almost winning is to cook a nice meal for my family. Afterward, I want to take a nap. Then I go back to being a mom to my two girls. Down the line I have some concerts coming up with Wilson Phillips, and I’ll be cohosting some episodes of The Talk on CBS.
Donate to Carnie’s chosen charity, the Autism Research Institute.