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.
With little to no cooking skill, Jeni came up with a Bloody Mary chicken for her baseline dish. Unfortunately, neither mentor was impressed by her cocktail rendition. Still, Chef Tyler saw potential in Jeni and chose her for his team. During the Main Dish challenge, however, Jeni let her station get so out of hand that Tyler called her out on leaving trash, dirty equipment and even a knife on the floor. With Rachel and Jeni in the bottom two, Tyler decided to send home Jeni because he just couldn’t overlook the dangers of a messy kitchen.
How was your first day in Boot Camp? How did you come up with your dish, the Bloody Mary chicken?
Jeni Erdman: I figured the only thing I really knew how to make was Bloody Marys, and so a friend had a suggestion that I should try to use that as a dish, and I kind of knew that the dish should be something, maybe a little over the top, so, I just thought it was fun.
Why did you sign up for Boot Camp? What were you hoping to gain from this competition?
JE: My purpose definitely was coming here to gain some knowledge that really I have never taken the time out of busy life [to gain], or maybe really ever had a sincere interest in learning how to cook. So, I really was hoping to gain some knowledge and some skills to take home.
How were you feeling going into the Main Dish challenge, replicating your mentor’s recipe? Were you nervous at all?
JE: I think we were all nervous, and I definitely was nervous. I think you learn that, even though you’ve got a list of ingredients, you didn’t have the order, and that’s where your notes came in, and if I were to have moved forward, I definitely would have probably improved on my note taking. For the first challenge, you really don’t know how much to write down, or how little to write down. I wrote down quite a bit, but I definitely, I think, would have done even more on my notes … although I wasn’t really sent home today due to my cooking skills or lack of cooking skills.
Is there something you could have done differently?
JE: The reason that I ended up getting cut is probably one of my biggest problems with cooking, is the mess that it makes. I am not a messy person. So … it’s very ironic that I am getting sent home due to a messy kitchen, because that’s the reason I don’t cook, is that I don’t like the mess, and if I had been cooking in my own kitchen, I would have been doing dishes along the way. Obviously, the time frame didn’t allow that, and Ernie and I were both putting things on the floor, and I just never knew where else to put them.
How was it having Tyler as your mentor?
JE: I really have not spent much time with him, so you know, with only one challenge, but he seems to sincerely want to teach. [He’s] very kind about teaching, and wants to make sure everyone understands what he is saying. I thought he did a fantastic job. He obviously knows what he’s doing, and would like to share that knowledge with other people.
Despite your short time on the show, do you feel you leave with a better grasp of cooking?
JE: Very little, because really it was only one challenge, and one example of cooking, but, you know, it was very fun to do that meal, and it’s been a good experience.
Is there someone on your team that you’ll be rooting for, or someone that you think could make it to the end?
JE: I would think on the Blue Team that either Lawrence or Ginny will probably make it to the end … . I think they really like Rachel, though, also. I think Ernie is still there because he’s a bigger voice than I am. … I think I’m not one of the bigger personalities. I think that holds true for David as well. I think we’re both, probably, the smaller personalities on each team.
How would you sum up your whole experience, albeit so short?
JE: Oh, I think it was great. All of the contestants, everyone who is still standing, and David, are fantastic people. It’s been a great experience.
Watch Worst Cooks in America on Sundays at 9|8c to find out which recruit goes home next.