On Worst Cooks in America, 14 recruits have the tremendous opportunity to be mentored by Food Network chefs Anne Burrell and Bobby Flay. They’ve come to Boot Camp with some of the worst skills imaginable, but if they’re able to survive seven weeks of competition without getting eliminated, they might just be named the best of the worst and win $25,000. And their mentor gets bragging rights. This year, Anne is fighting to get back her title after losing to Bobby in Season 4. Every week, one recruit from each team is sent home.
FN Dish has the exclusive interviews with the eliminated recruits from the Red Team and the Blue Team.
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In this week’s Skill Drill, the recruits found themselves making and serving sushi for local customers at a Japanese restaurant, who then voted on their efforts. The challenge proved to be more difficult for some than others, mainly Carol, who couldn’t get the hang of the process. For their Main Dish challenge the next day, Anne and Bobby tasked the recruits with making finger foods for a surprise birthday party for a special guest: Betsey Johnson’s daughter. But first, they had to pick flavored candies — which would influence their dishes — by hitting life-size Anne and Bobby pinatas. The fun came to an end later when Anne found that Carol’s food lacked the flavor she was hoping to find.
In the sushi challenge, you seemed to start off somewhat shaky but you got better as you went along. What was the most-difficult part for you?
There were a couple things that were difficult about the challenge. I had never sliced salmon and I had to slice it very thin. And you have to have delicate knife cuts, otherwise the salmon will break apart. Secondly, I took the plastic wrap off the sushi roll and I spent like 15-20 minutes looking for more plastic wrap, which I had trouble finding.
During the hors d’oeuvres challenge, you got flustered at times and had some issues opening the mustard and keeping your station clean, which Anne yelled at you for. Why do you think you struggled so much?
Anne always screams at me so that is nothing new. I did not keep a clean station, but I guess it was because in NYC we’re used to working in small spaces like that. The hardest part for me about the cooking challenge was working with ingredients that I’ve never used before, like ginger or the water chestnuts.
What did you think when Anne tasted your food and said it was a lot better than she expected it to taste?
I’m not sure what to take from it other than she really thought it was awful. So I went from terrible to not so bad. I guess I’m grateful for that. I don’t know what she thought initially. But I was pleased that it was tasty and she liked it. That’ a surprise coming from Chef Anne.
You seemed to have a really strong connection with Anne during the show. Can you tell us about that?
Anne has a tough persona but there’s something underneath that’s really caring and kind about her. Growing up in an Italian family, barking and screaming is just part of our DNA. But I think she really cares about teaching people. When you break through her exterior she’s a softy inside.
What was the hardest thing for you about doing the show?
I think the hardest thing for me was to try and stay calm and remember all the steps. When I get frustrated or insecure I’ll forget steps. I think that was a constant battle for me.
What are some top things you learned during your time on the show?
I now know how to use a knife correctly. And I’m pretty good at dicing onions and apples, which I never would have done before. I now have an understanding of how to layer and build flavors so that they become all connected in the end. It was interesting to learn that and Anne is just such a great teacher.
Did you ever think you would make it this far?
When I came into this, I was hoping that I wouldn’t get eliminated first. So I can’t believe I got this far. I’m just surprised and thankful. At my stage, to do something so different and out of the ordinary and having had the opportunity to develop along the way I think is just terrific. I’m really thrilled with myself that I’ve come this far.
What’s next for you? Will you be cooking a lot more?
I’m going to try the dishes that I made so that I get comfortable with that. And it will be a pleasure without a clock. I definitely will cook, especially the tomato sauce and chicken recipes. I’m not sure I’ll be making sushi rolls or spring rolls again.
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