One-on-One With the Latest Red Team Recruit to Go Home — Worst Cooks in America

by in Shows, March 10th, 2013

Chefs Anne Burrell and Bobby Flay on Worst Cooks in AmericaFor 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.

Also see:
Find out who went home from Chef Bobby’s Blue Team
Top Photo Moments of Episode 4
Video Highlights
Sneak Peek at Next Week’s Show

For the first time in Boot Camp, the recruits skipped traditional homemade American dishes and embraced the international flavors of classic Asian takeout. Contestants from both Chef Anne’s and Chef Bobby’s teams admitted to frequently resorting to delivery dinners, but when tasked with re-creating their mentor’s shrimp lo mein and shrimp fried rice, respectively, many were at a loss for how to execute those meals from scratch. The Red Team’s Crystal found this Skill Drill particularly challenging, as she was forced to get hands-on with shrimp — an ingredient she despises — and later suffered a broken egg yolk, which prevented her from making a sunny-side-up egg and completing her fried rice on time. At the next day’s Main Dish Challenge, the recruits were once again forced out of their comfort zones, this time thanks to an intense cake-baking how-to from Master Pastry Chef Ron Ben-Israel, the ultimate Sweet Genius. After dropping one of her cake pans full of batter on the floor, Crystal served only a single-layer cake, while her fellow contestants offered stacked creations. Sue, too, struggled in this bake-off, as her cakes seemed to cook improperly and her frosting was oddly stiff. In the end, while both ladies’ confections met criticism from Chef Anne, ultimately it was Crystal Lonneberg who was asked to turn in her apron on account of what Chef Anne believed to be “a cop-out” in Crystal’s excuses for why dishes failed.

This was an especially emotional week for you. Talk to us about your teary elimination.

CL: Being away from my dog, friends and art for a long period of time with no immediate connection to them was really hard. I started having anxiety about being away, what I was missing and how I was going to catch up when I got back. Adding to the stress was living in a house with so many different personalities all sharing living spaces with no privacy, ever … I really wanted to learn more than win. I learned so much and made such amazing friends that I feel like I won!

Crystal LonnebergBefore competing on Worst Cooks, what was your signature takeout order from the local delivery spot? Have you resorted to that takeout since the show?

CL: There is a great Italian restaurant that is half a block from my house. The delivery guys know me by name and honk when they pass me while I’m jogging. Since I’ve been back, I’ve only ordered from there once when I had a party. Now when they see me they honk and ask, “Where have you been?” It’s nice to be missed, but I don’t see myself going back to my old ways.

What’s the most-valuable culinary skill you learned from Chef Anne?

CL: Chef Anne taught me low-tech solutions! When you’re unfamiliar with something, it can be really intimidating and scary, but knowing that most things can be solved with a little patience and commonsense, it isn’t so scary after all.

Tell us about the first meal you cooked after returning from Boot Camp. Were you pleased with the finished dish?

CL: When I got home, I bought all new pots and pans. Then I got groceries. I made grilled tofu with mushrooms and Brussels sprouts cooked in fresh garlic, grated onion and chicken stock. It was amazing! Even my dog ate the leftovers. I didn’t think dogs like vegetables, but she ate them.

Chef Anne Burrell and Crystal LonnebergCan you share any funny moments from Boot Camp or some interesting tidbits from behind the scenes that didn’t make it on air?

CL: So many hilarious things happened in the house that a whole new show could have been made from just that. The first week, we set the smoke alarm off every time someone tried to cook, so we had to move the smoke alarm out of the kitchen. We started getting stir-crazy after a few days, so to pass the time, Bowtie Mike and Aadip would play banjo and guitar while we made up songs about each other. One night Carrie Lee and Resheeda dressed Alex up like a girl with a full face of makeup and a matching skintight leopard-print dress. Alina made Dr. Bob’s hair look like Anne Burrell, and somehow Aadip got turned into a pirate. During downtime or between tapings I would draw silly sketches of the cast members, and Aadip would write jokes/captions for my sketches. We would switch out the cast house pictures with sketches of angry pizza, cats with mustaches or silly sketches of each other.

For future Worst Cooks recruits, what’s the one piece of advice you’d most like to offer?

CL: For future recruits, I would advise to stay calm, take a deep breath and draw pictures of the instructions in your notebook to help you remember, because, when the pressure is on, trying to remember when to chiffonade or julienne will make you crazy. Just draw pictures. It worked for me!

Visit Food Network’s Worst Cooks in America headquarters for more insider coverage of the show.


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Comments (17)

  1. EZ Bake Oven says:

    Well now, makes me wish we had been able to see the outtakes. Dr. Bob with Chef Anne's hair ? Priceless!

  2. Leila says:

    I was so sad to see you go but it sounds like you had an amazingly enriching experience. Keep being awesome!

  3. thetattooedartist says:

    Thanks for all the support. It was sad to go but glad i had the opportunity to be there! Feel free to read my blog and join my fan page for more updates on upcoming projects!

    Crystal Kitty

  4. @sunshine916 says:

    This episode was just too hilarious…I laughed till I cried…watching the cooks try and use the food processor was too funny…love this show..

    • beachinfrizzy says:

      Same here sunshine! This series has been hilarious and this episode especially so…from that sad empty fridge to the literal "Ninja" at the take-out place (yeah, have someone with their mouth covered answering the phone), RBI's priceless expressions to Carrie's "pledge" cake to Carla's gummy-beared cow pie. Hey I've seen chefs on Chopped who didn't know which way to attach the bowl to a Cuisinart!

  5. WyoWind says:

    On Bobby's team, I don't get why Carla was not eliminated! Hers was a total mess whereas the contestant eliminated (Carrie Ann??) turned in a cake that was basically over-lemoned. Hmmm… Something going on 'tween Bobby & the ever-flirtatious Carla?? Hahaha!!!

  6. Anne says:

    Oh crystal u didnt give a complete dish NEXT TIME ADD THE EGG DON'T FORGET!!!! -Anne Burrell

  7. Anne says:

    Who won the 25,000

  8. spinmealtr says:

    Elina is such a faker! She even admitted in this latest episode that she "watches food shows". She's NO worst cook. So lame! Carly was the best!!!! My whole family rallied around Carla each week. Bring back Carla!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. LZMOM says:

    This season has been so disappointing. The contestants were way over the top and most are actors. In previous seasons they seemed to be just regular people. What was food network thinking. I can't take any of their competitions serious anymore. You took a good thing and ruined it. Go ahead, google the names and you'll find their actors.

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