One-on-One With the Latest Blue 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.
After an overwhelming first few days at Boot Camp, the contestants began their second week of the competition not in the kitchen but on a boat off the coast of New York City. The focus of week two would later be deemed knife skills, and fresh black sea bass reeled in by the recruits would prove to be the first of several ingredients for practicing proper cuts on. Back on the mainland, each competitor attempted to replicate his or her mentor’s seafood plate complete with a side salad, but some of their fillets, slices and dices left much to be desired, including those made by Chef Bobby’s Michael Paul, aka Big Mike. Despite his coach’s insistence that he slice avocados on a flat surface, Big Mike disobeyed and cut his hand, and his dish was ultimately named the most disappointing on the Blue Team. In the Main Dish Challenge, the recruits were forced to work with a main ingredient that’s a bit meatier: a whole chicken with its head and feet still attached. In an effort to reproduce Chef Bobby’s chicken chasseur, Big Mike delivered undercooked poultry that his mentor was forced to spit out. Carla, too, struggled with the challenge, and after failing to properly butcher her bird, she and Big Mike faced potential exits come elimination. In the end, however, Big Mike was asked to turn in his apron.
What are you most proud of during your time at Boot Camp?
MP: I was most proud of the fact that both chefs wanted me on their team and the fact that I cooked a perfect steak for Bobby Flay. Also, the friendships I made.
You said several times in the competition that you’re a mama’s boy. How has this competition changed your relationship with your mom?
MP: My mother and I have a great relationship still, but now she is more willing to teach and let me cook in the kitchen.
In last week’s challenge, Bobby complimented you on a “perfectly cooked” steak. Have you tried out your newly acquired cooking chops at home yet?
MP: I have. I cooked my family some New York strips. It was wonderful.
What was the most valuable skill you learned from Chef Bobby?
MP: The most valuable skill I learned from Chef Bobby was how to properly hold a knife and how to curl your fingertips when cutting. Also, that you have to feel and taste, taste, taste while you are cooking to make sure that it is delicious.
If you had the opportunity to learn just one more piece of kitchen know-how before being eliminated, what would it be? Why?
MP: I would like to learn how to make a nice wing sauce. Because along with chicken Alfredo, chicken wings are one of my favorite dishes and I think it would be magnificent if I could make a unique wing sauce from scratch.
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