One-on-One With the Worst Cooks in America Runner-Up by Maria Russo in Shows, March 31st, 2013
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After besting 12 rival recruits in a six-week Boot Camp, the top two Worst Cooks in America contestants took to the professional kitchen at New York City’s The Dutch restaurant for a finale cook-off to be judged by three no-nonsense culinary experts, Chefs Anita Lo, Frank Cardoz and Andrew Carmellini. The Red Team‘s Rasheeda Brown and the Blue Team‘s Alina Bolshakova relied on the teachings of their mentors to successfully compete against the clock and create not just everyday dishes but a restaurant-quality feast, complete with appetizer, entree and dessert courses.
Once the showdown began, Chef Anne‘s “Rock Star” Rasheeda began preparing a menu of deliciously brave dishes that included from-scratch ravioli filled with egg yolks, pate-stuffed Cornish game hens and apple-squash crepes topped with fresh cinnamon gelato. “This is absolutely something that you can be successful at,” Chef Anne told her recruit, and ultimately, Rasheeda indeed managed to complete the meal with only minor emergencies along the way. The panel was wowed by daring elements in each of her dishes, especially the runny-egg ravioli, but in the end, her offerings couldn’t match those from Chef Bobby‘s Alina, and Rasheeda Brown was sent home as the Worst Cooks in America runner-up.
Talk to us about the moment it was revealed your Blue Team rival had won the competition. What was the first thing you thought?
RB: Honestly, I was so disappointed. Not only did I feel like I let myself down, I felt like I let Chef Anne down. She believed that I could bring home her fourth win and I didn’t. I will forever be known as the one who broke her winning streak. The Blue Team got their first win off me; I declare a rematch.
What was the first purchase you made with your $5,000 Kohl’s gift card? Have you been putting your kitchen products to good use?
RB: I bought a KitchenAid Mixer, and it’s pink (Cook for the Cure), and a food processor. It took me forever to get my food processor to work at home, too — go figure!
What’s your proudest moment of the competition? Any one challenge or moment of praise that you’ll always remember?
RB: I will always remember the first challenge I won because it gave me confidence that I lacked in the beginning. Everyone had won a challenge except me, and we were down to the last four, so that definitely gave me a big head.
How was your experience working so closely with Chef Anne?
RB: I wasn’t happy being picked on Chef Ann’s team in the beginning, but that quickly changed. Chef Anne is an amazing teacher. I learned so much from her, and she taught me to have confidence and helped me face my fears in the kitchen. I am forever grateful for learning how to cook from one of the best. Chef Anne rocks!
What do you think is the most-valuable piece of culinary knowledge you gained from Boot Camp?
RB: Mise en place – everything in place. Having everything in place, preparing and setting up before you begin to cook is so important. And let’s not forget our “thank you for coming” bowl. Having a bowl set aside where you can throw things you no longer need helps to keep your work area nice and neat.
What have been some of the most-successful meals you’ve made since returning from Boot Camp?
RB: Lamb, lamb and more lamb. I love making Chef Anne’s rack of lamb recipe and ravioli. Making pasta from scratch is so fun and there is nothing like fresh pasta. Yum!
Have you taught your sister any kitchen know-hows since coming home from the competition?
RB: Yes, I taught my sister how to make pasta from scratch — and what an amazing teacher I must be, because her pasta from scratch is almost better than mine.
Can you share with us any behind-the-scenes moments of the show or funny tidbits not seen on television?
RB: Where do I begin? So many. On second thought, what happened in the house stays in the house — unless Food Network had hidden cameras somewhere.
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