This season on Worst Cooks in America, 14 new hapless home cooks have joined the ranks to be mentored by chefs Tyler Florence and Anne Burrell. Split into the Blue Team and the Red Team, the recruits face new cooking challenges every week, gathering new cooking skills until just two finalists remain to face off in the last cook-off. That winner will walk away with $25,000 in cash, and his or her mentor will win bragging rights. Unfortunately, every week the two lowest-scoring recruits will be kicked out of Boot Camp. They lose the chance to win the prize money, but they leave with new skills learned from their mentors.
Every Sunday night, FN Dish has the exclusive interviews with the eliminated recruits, one from the Red Team and one from the Blue Team.
After making a jibarito sandwich as his signature dish, David was chosen by Chef Anne to compete on her team. Going into the Main Dish challenge, Anne asked her team to recreate a prosciutto-wrapped pork tenderloin with asparagus and peach chutney. Unfortunately for David, a cut spelled disaster for his dish. He lost track of time and had to rush to get his plate finished, and in the end it wasn’t too well-received by Anne. Chanda ended up joining David in the bottom two, but Chef Anne decided that David’s panicked reaction was a liability to her team, and sent him home.
Why did you sign up for Boot Camp? What did it mean for you to be here?
David Fouts: Actually, my wife signed me up for Boot Camp. … She kind of pointed out that I’m really not that good of a cook, and I had to kind of swallow a little bit of pride, kind of ask some people to get a second opinion, and no, no I am not a very good cook, and it’s not so much that, it’s not so much that I can’t cook, it’s that I don’t know how to cook. It’s not something that I ever picked up as a skill, or as a needed thing to do, you know? Either my wife would make meals for me and my family, or I would just grab something. I would grab a granola bar. I’d grab a Big Mac. I’d grab, you know, something easy, quick, and really food wasn’t … a love for me. It was something you did, and you had to do it, versus something that you enjoyed. … I mean, I would enjoy going out for dinner to nice restaurants, but those were events. That wasn’t your day-to-day kind of cooking. So here I am, and it’s been proven. My wife has been confirmed that I am the worst cook in America. (laughs)
Talking about restaurants, you made this dish that was inspired by one you’ve had while eating out. How did that baseline challenge go for you?
DF: So the jibarito sandwich is a Puerto Rican dish that’s basically a BLT but made with some spices, and plantains instead of bread … . If it’s done right, it’s actually very delicious. If it’s fried right, if the meat is seared correctly, there’s just so many flavors in it. That’s something that I have tried to prepare for my wife, because it’s very special to us. It goes back to a time … when we went on one of our first dates down to Chicago, and saw a show, and found this little hole-in-the-wall restaurant, and it was delicious. And so I wanted to do that for her, to kind of re-enact, to re-create, and so I’ve tried, and obviously failed miserably, and I still haven’t learned how to make it, but now I know a little bit more about oil, and I know a little bit more about how to sear your meat. So I’ve learned some really good skills that hopefully now with the little basics that I got, I’ll be able to do that for her.
How was the first cooking challenge for you? I know you cut your finger and that you lost track.
DF: So it all kind of started to fall apart when I started my dicing. [It] was taking me a lot longer than I had originally thought it was going to take me. … I went to grab the paring knife to peel the peach the way that I’ve seen everybody peel peaches, when it occurred to me, you’re not supposed to use the paring knife. You need to use the peeler. … I started peeling the first peach. I did an OK job, but my focus was, “I need to get this diced. I need to move this along.” So, as I got the first one done, I started on the second one, and within the first three cuts, I nipped my knuckle, and it just started to bleed, and I’ve had these types of injuries before, and I knew, this is not going to stop. … So, I called for a medic. The medic came out, but now it’s a situation where I’m having to get my hand washed, I’m watching the time tick down, I know that I need to be checking my meat … but I can’t, because I’m standing getting my finger looked at/attended to … but it just wouldn’t clot off. … So, I’m thinking, “OK, I need to come up with my next plan.” My next plan is, as soon as this is done, I’m going to get that meat out, and I’m going to let it set. … I ended up starting to think about how I can get my asparagus done, while my chutney is working. … But from there it was a matter of trying to do too many things at once. I should have taken a step back, taken a breath and focused on one thing.
After hearing Anne comment on your dish, did you feel that you’d end up in the bottom?
DF: Yeah, I was pretty sure that, based on how she was talking, based on what she was saying, based on the feedback that she was giving, based on what her expectations of me were, I was pretty sure that I was going to be in the bottom two.
In your short time on the show, how was it being on Anne’s team? Did you like her as a mentor?
DF: (laughs) You know, I only had one lesson with her. I think the skills that she taught, the directions she gave were easy to follow. They made sense. I would have loved to have more sessions with her. Unfortunately, that’s not the way that it turned out. I would have loved to learn more from her, but it didn’t work out. I like her style. I think that she has a different style than a lot of people, but I think that it’s effective. I think that I learned … four different knife skills. I learned all sorts of things about checking your oil. I learned all sorts of … basics around cooking. … You know, I went from knowing pretty much nothing, to now knowing quite a bit in a very short amount of time. So, for that I’m very thankful.
If you could do it all over again from the beginning, is there something that you’d do differently?
DF: I wouldn’t cut my finger. (laughs) I’m sorry that’s a short answer, but … to be honest with you, that is the only thing that in my mind I would have done differently. … I was taking my time, I wasn’t worried about the time. I knew that … 60 minutes was more than enough time to cook this dish. Really, I think that the smaller things that happened with the wrapping of the prosciutto, I would have been able to overcome. I really think that the downfall really was just on the chutney and the asparagus. And that really kind of happened after I peeled my knuckle off.
Do you think you’ll try cooking again when you go home? Maybe take some classes?
DF: HELL NO! No, I’m kidding. (laughs) You know, the reason that I’m on the show is for my family, and it’s to learn some things, so that I can help my wife. You know, she’s been making dinners for our entire family for the last, oh I don’t even know, five to seven years, and, you know it would be nice if I could do something in the home instead of calling out for pizza. It’s the truth. Or heating up her leftovers. I mean, heating up her leftovers is pretty good too, but I just think [cooking] would be something that I could definitely do for her, and for the rest of my family. Now, will I go take classes? Well, no, I think that now that I have some basic skills, I’ll let my wife teach me. She’s a phenomenal cook. I think that the problem at, you know with her trying to teach me, was I didn’t know anything, and I felt like an idiot. Well, now at least I know some things, and I think that now that I have a base … I’m actually looking forward to spending a lot of quality time with my wife in the kitchen. I really, truly am.
Is there someone on your team that you’re rooting for, or someone who you think could make it to the end?
DF: You know what, this group of folks — I would root for any one of them to make it to the end. This is a great group of people. I’ve gotten to know some wonderful people on this show. I think it would be great to see Donna go far. … I think she’s an underdog. I hope that she makes it a little bit farther. But really as I think up and down, I’m going to be cheering for whomever on both teams, and even though I have an allegiance to Red, and I want Red to win, and I want Chef Anne to continue her dominance, I’ll be honest that even those guys on the Blue Team — if somebody from the Blue Team wins, I’m going to be really happy for them. These are great people.
How would you sum up the entire experience that you had here, although short?
DF: This an experience that only so many people in the world get to have. I feel very honored that I was chosen to have this experience, and I feel very blessed with the relationships that I’ve made through this show. So I think the best way to sum it is [to say] I’m very thankful. I’m very thankful to Chef Anne. I’m very thankful to Food Network, and I’m very thankful to the production crew, and everybody that makes these things go, but I’m mostly thankful to those folks out there still competing, because they really made this a wonderful experience. I’ve made some really good new friends, and I’m looking forward to watching this season and cheering those guys on.
Watch Worst Cooks in America on Sundays at 9|8c to find out which recruit goes home next.
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