Every Sunday night, FN Dish gives you the exclusive exit interview with the latest castoff from Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off, the competition show that features celebrities cooking their way through challenges for a chance to win the title of Cook-Off Champion and $50,000 for their chosen charity. This season will have the celebrities facing real-life situations — far from the glamour of the red carpet — and will test more than just their cooking skills.
With tonight’s episode, the competition dropped down to four celebrities: three on Team Rachael and one on Team Guy. Though they would continue to compete as teams, the celebrities would be judged individually for the first time. But the biggest surprise was that two would be eliminated at the end of the episode. The challenge required the celebrities to serve meals out of food trucks to a hungry lunch crowd within a limited amount of time. Unfortunately, not everyone could handle the demands of the challenge.
With the advantage from last week, Team Rachael got to choose the theme of their food truck from the four that were available: Comfort Cruiser, Tiny Italian, Ragin’ Asian and Mighty Mexican. Rachael suggested they go with Comfort Cruiser because cooking comfort food offered them the most room to play with. Out of the three remaining options, Guy suggested Dean choose Mighty Mexican.
On Team Rachael, Kathy made a Middle Eastern macaroni and cheese, Hines made chili cheese dogs and Carnie made meatballs with mashed potatoes. Surprisingly, all of their dishes had a fair share of criticism from the customers. In the end, all the members on Team Rachael ended up in the bottom three to face a double elimination. They were tasked with making their best food on a stick. Rachael and Guy found it difficult choosing the best dish because all three had issues. Kathy’s fruit skewers were too small Hines’ kebabs had undercooked shrimp and Carnie’s beef kebabs were too much. In the end Rachael and Guy chose the best overall dish. Kathy was one of the two celebrities eliminated (read the other exit interview here). Watch Kathy’s exit interview below.
How do you feel about leaving the competition?
Kathy Najimy: I’m really proud of the position where I left in the lineup. Third out of eight for not being a professional chef is pretty good. I attribute that to my rabid game-playing skills. I would have loved to hand PETA $50,000 for the animals, but I’m really grateful I got to raise awareness and cook vegetarian food in honor of my daughter, who is a vegetarian. That part of it was very fulfilling. But I actually think everything went as it should have. I heard my dish came in second to Dean’s in the food truck challenge. Dean’s been to culinary school but I’ve never cooked from a recipe ever. To hear that feedback was awesome.
Would you have done anything differently in the blind tasting challenge?
KN: That cake kebab — I had extra time and I messed around with extra things when I just should have shoved more pound cake and pineapple on the plate. But I had fun. I’ve never made a glaze like that. I didn’t think it was in my wheelhouse. It’s sort of like the many things I do in my life that are creative.
What have you learned from this competition, about cooking, yourself?
KN: I really learned a lot about myself and I hear people on these reality shows say that, and I always think “Oh, c’mon,” but I’m one of those people saying it now. I learned a lot about myself, my strengths and my weaknesses. I thought I’ll just cook what I cook and leave. But I learned from Rachael and the people around me, about time management, about the different kitchen tools and ingredients I’ve never used and about cooking step-by-step with one ingredient at a time. I also never realized how much my Middle Eastern heritage influences my cooking. That was a great surprise and a real nod to my mom. She never really sat down and taught me to cook — I learned from watching her in the kitchen. I would never have put cooking on my top 10 list of things I’m strong at, but now I would.
What do you take away from this competition?
KN: Before I came to this competition I was a good cook but not a chef. I cooked from my heart. I just saw what was in the kitchen and made something out of nothing. I came with that as a skill and that’s what I did in the final elimination. I came to spread the word about PETA and speak for the animals that don’t have a voice. To be one of the first vegetarian cooks on this program was an honor. I’m proud that I got through it. I leave with a skill set that I didn’t think was that important before. But it will make my cooking even more fun and enjoyable.
What do you have to say about Rachael?
KN: I learned a lot because of Rachael’s guidance. It’s not easy to take four people you’ve never met before, at different cooking levels, and to mentor them in a way that they can respond. She knew what I could hear and what I could respond to. She knew what Carnie needed to hear, what Hines needed to hear. She was a therapist slash mentor slash celebrity chef. I learned some really good skills from Rachael. I made a béchamel sauce — I’ve never even heard of it. But I made it and it tasted good.
What’s next for you?
KN: I’m going to get back to my life as usual, my daughter, my husband, my acting. I love being a keynote speaker. I’m writing a one-woman show for New York. I’m happy to get back to New York, where I recently moved. I’ve really missed it.
Do you think Kathy deserved to go home? Leave a comment.
Donate to Kathy’s charity, PETA.
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