On Worst Cooks in America, 14 recruits have the opportunity of a lifetime: to be mentored by two renowned chefs, Anne Burrell and Bobby Flay. They arrive at Boot Camp with some of the worst skills imaginable in the kitchen, but if they’re able to last seven weeks of competition without getting cut, they get the chance to be named the best of the worst and win $25,000 in prize money. Plus their mentor gets bragging rights — and this year Anne is fighting to win her title back after losing it to Bobby last season. Unfortunately, every week two recruits, one from each team, must be eliminated.
Every Monday night, FN Dish has the exclusive interviews with the eliminated recruits from the Red Team and the Blue Team.
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With this week’s Skill Drill, the recruits woke up to find themselves summoned back to Boot Camp by a police officer. What they found was a doughnut truck with Anne and Bobby, who tasked them with making the sweets from scratch. Ken decided to make a doughnut topped with bacon and chocolate-covered pretzels. Unfortunately it came out too salty for Anne’s and Bobby’s tastes. Once it came time for the roulade Main Dish challenge, Ken got easily distracted by all the ingredients available in the kitchen. His pork roulade ended up turning into an overcomplicated recipe with a filling of lobster, a protein he’s never cooked. As time ran out, Ken dropped the lobster idea, deciding to go with ground lamb instead. The finished dish didn’t go over well with Anne; she decided to eliminate Ken, who she thought got caught up too easily in his own mind, which negatively affected his cooking.
Anne and Bobby thought your doughnut had too much going on and it was too salty. Do you think you would have done anything differently?
I had pictured the glaze to be whiter. I wanted to go with a white glaze with darker contrast, but it didn’t quite turn out that way. Thinking back on it, I probably should have used the white chocolate instead of the vanilla. That would have changed the color and the texture. I liked my pretzel and bacon topping idea. It might not be to everybody’s palate, but it’s something that I like. But it could have been a little less salty.
Anne thought your roulade had a lot of issues: The sauce was greasy and the meat was dry. Do you think that focusing so much on wanting to use the lobster made the rest of your dish suffer?
Absolutely. I lost a lot of time with that lobster and that peach. I might have been overzealous with the whole thing. I went in there with no game plan but purely to let my creativity take me from what I saw in the pantry and the fridge. Lobster was a fun idea, but it may not have been the best idea.
It seemed that you wanted to try too many new things and didn’t use your time wisely. In hindsight, do you think you should have done something simpler?
I definitely think that if I had gone with a simpler option it would have been an easier challenge for me. But this is a learning experience, so I wanted to try things that I haven’t done before and go for broke.
You always seemed really focused in the kitchen, but Anne said you should relax more. Are you going to take that advice the next time you’re cooking?
I understand what Anne means about relaxing more. And I’m definitely going to take everything that she’s told me into consideration. When you’re stressed everything gets more frantic. I think no longer having time constraints will naturally create a more relaxing cooking experience.
Do you plan to get in the kitchen more?
I will definitely be in the kitchen more. I’ve learned so much in this competition as far as the fundamentals of cooking. And that, I think, is the most important.
What was the biggest challenge for you about doing the competition?
The biggest challenge I would say for me was having a set time for these challenges. Of course having all the time in the world would mean there’s time to perfect a dish a lot easier.
What’s the No. 1 thing you learned during your time on the show?
I can’t give you a No. 1 thing, but I can give you many things. The knife work was a huge lesson. And simple tips like how to cut an onion. Learning about flavor layering and what pairs well with what. I’ve never had an apple in my grilled cheese. So it definitely opened my eyes in a lot of ways in incorporating things that may seem odd. I have learned a lot in that perspective.
Who do you think on your team has the potential to make it the farthest?
I think everybody on my team, and on the show, has equal potential to win. They are all incredibly smart people who have the potential to make incredible dishes.
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