All Posts By FN Dish Editor

Worst Cooks, Episode 5: He Said, She Said

by in Shows, January 31st, 2011
NFL star and food enthusiast Kris Jenkins wasn't a fan of the game-day fare prepared by Kelly and Jen.

After each elimination on Worst Cooks in America this season, chefs Anne Burrell and Robert Irvine share their candid impressions of the booted recruits with the FN Dish. This week, they bid farewell to Kelly from Robert’s Team and Jen from Anne’s Team.

Assigned to make both potato pancakes and corn cakes, Jen was in "pancake hell."

Anne on Jen: That party challenge, every time, is a tough day. That’s the one on the first season where Jenny Cross had her big crash and meltdown; and that’s the one when I cried. Jen came in and she would start off really well in the challenges, and then she’d take a big fat nose-dive. She had no confidence, and she didn’t seem very happy. She’s a surgical nurse. I would always say to her, “I want to see happy Jen. I want to see strong, confident Jen.” And I think towards the end, she had a little bit of fun with it. By the end, when she left, she told me, “thank you, you made happy Jen reappear.” She wrote me a really sweet card with a picture of her family. She was really sweet and it was hard to send her home. She started to peek open but she never could let herself go to get there. She couldn’t deal with the pressure of it. I bet she handles stress fantastically in the operating room. This [cooking] is like surgery; you have to learn how to do it. And here we are, giving you an opportunity to learn how to do it.

Kelly feared cooking meat, but in the end she went home for her vegetarian black-bean fritters.

Robert on Kelly: Kelly wouldn’t touch meat because animals are her friends. She kept calling them her friends: “I don’t want to eat my friends.” But she butchered the chicken and actually did a really good job with it. She started to do better. In the Game Day Challenge, Kelly added too much liquid to a black bean fritter and they wouldn’t fry because they were so soft; they were so wet. She didn’t season one thing. She couldn’t put out enough food. Neither did Ty, but all the football players liked his food, so that’s what saved him.

See what Kelly and Jen are up to in their exit interviews. And don’t forget to vote for your favorite Worst Cooks recruit in our Fan Vote, up to 10 times per day.

Worst Cooks Exit Interview: Kelly Gray

by in Shows, January 31st, 2011
Kelly's advice for future recruits: "Relax! Maybe they should let the recruits have a cocktail while cooking on the next season."

Why did you need or want to be on Worst Cooks in America?
I needed to be on Worst Cooks to be saved from myself and my terrible culinary skills. Up until now, virtually all my cooking stories involve something catching on fire and that totally had to stop.

What was the most valuable tip or piece of advice that you received from your team leader? 
Chef Robert gave good advice like, “Relax” — but of course, I am a crazy woman and didn’t.

What did you take away from the experience? 
Friendship with some AMAZING people. The cooking is almost secondary to the experience of living and bonding with 15 other people.

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Sandra’s Saturday Savings: Fun Facts

by in Shows, January 29th, 2011

Sandra Lee Every Saturday morning in January, Sandra Lee teams up with the FN Dish to bring you budget-friendly tips for creating delicious dishes and meals for your family. From the supermarket to the stove, she’ll help you stretch every dollar and minute.

This week, Sandra shares some useful facts about grocery store prices and American eating (and spending) habits.

1. Freeze leftovers as soon as possible to maintain quality. Cooked meats can be frozen for up to 3 months.

2. In 1959, Americans spent $2.7 billion annually on frozen food. Today we spend $26.6 billion!

3. Boxed pie crust mix costs 73% less than refrigerated pre-made pie crust.

4. Check the unit price. Those little stickers on the grocery store shelves tell you how much you may or may not save by buying in larger quantities.

5. Americans spend approximately 4.1% of their annual income on food outside the home and 5.8% of their income on food in the home.

Want more tips? Sandra’s shows are full of ‘em. Catch Money Saving Meals on Saturdays at 9am/8c and Semi-Homemade Cooking on Sundays at 11:30am/10:30c.

Worst Cooks Exit Interview: Anna Altomari

by in Shows, January 24th, 2011

Anna had a little not-so-secret crush on Chef Robert.

Why did you need or want to be on Worst Cooks in America?
I didn’t even know that my friend Theresa had nominated me until I got the call and email. Then she said, “Oh, yes…didn’t I tell you?”

What was the most valuable tip or piece of advice that you received from Chef Robert?
Chef Robert was so awesome. He taught me how to use a knife properly… but we fought about olive oil vs. grapeseed oil.

What did you take away from the experience?
It was fun to get to know everyone on the show. I realized I could cook if I just had the time and someone to show me how.

Will you continue to work on your culinary skills?
I would like to, but my work keeps me so busy and my mom continues to cook for me. Maybe if I find a nice boyfriend, I would have someone to cook for.

If you could have a do-over of the challenge that sent you home, what would you do differently?
I would follow my gut instinct and start cooking the duck first, then chop things up as I was cooking. The chopping got me behind.

When you presented your final dish, how did you feel about it?
My dish looked good; the only thing that didn’t make it on the dish was the sauce. I knew though from the end of the challenge it would be me to go home. I was tearful the whole night even past elimination. The cast was like family and I was leaving.

What advice would you give to future Worst Cooks competitors?
Be prepared to live with strangers that will become your friends and enjoy the experience. It’s hard at the time but afterwards, you’ll have lots of fun stories.

What was the first dish or meal that you attempted to cook back at home after being eliminated? How did it go?
I made an omelet and it came out great! My mom was gone so I had control over the kitchen.

What was your most memorable or funniest moment while shooting the show?
Every day was memorable. I have never laughed so much. We had a great cast.

Read Erika’s Exit Interview, find out more about Worst Cooks in America and catch the show on Sundays at 9pm/8c.

Worst Cooks, Episode 4: He Said, She Said

by in Shows, January 24th, 2011

After a lighthearted burger challenge, the recruits had to prepare elegant meals for Chefs Anne and Robert. Erika and Anna ran into major problems.

After each elimination on Worst Cooks in America this season, chefs Anne Burrell and Robert Irvine share their candid impressions of the booted recruits with the FN Dish. This week, at the season’s halfway mark, they bid farewell to Anna from Robert’s Team and Erika from Anne’s Team.

Erika surprised Chef Anne by coming a long, long way during her stint in boot camp.

Anne on Erika: At first, I wasn’t taking her seriously. She started out making the bologna quesadilla and drawing hearts and flowers with spray cheese on Saltines. And then she actually got a lot better. She buckled down but would revert back sometimes.Erika actually did transform herself a lot. She’d been on Beauty and the Geek, so at first I thought, this girl is just about being on TV. And then I started to take her a little bit seriously. I gave her the benefit of the doubt, and she actually won a challenge or two. She made it halfway through.

Anna's first dish, a frittata cooked in inches of olive oil, earned her a nickname from Chef Robert.

Robert on Anna: Olive Oil Anna. She’d put a gallon of olive oil in everything. She’s Italian and her mother told her she’s not married because she doesn’t know how to cook. Her mother, a great Italian cook, wouldn’t let her in the kitchen. Anna got her act together and was pretty good by the end. She did very well; she got her station clear and she would work well, but then she’d mess it up, overcooking and over-seasoning. We had the one-on-one meal together. Oh, it was awful. She works long hours at the hospital; she still lives at home with her mother. It would be interesting to see if she’s done any cooking since the show.

See what Anna and Erika are up to in their exit interviews. And don’t forget to vote for your favorite Worst Cooks recruit in our Fan Vote, up to 10 times per day.

Worst Cooks Exit Interview: Erika Rumsey

by in Shows, January 24th, 2011
This challenge was not Erika's finest moment: She served crackers decorated with squeeze cheese.

Why did you need or want to be on Worst Cooks in America?
I have always loved the idea of cooking, but could never really figure it out. I live on processed foods. Some of my favorites include hot dogs and macaroni and cheese! I once microwaved a cookie to get it warm. I realized that two minutes was way too long when the microwave caught on fire.

What was the most valuable tip or piece of advice that you received from Chef Anne?
Be organized! Mice en place (or whatever that was).

What did you take away from the experience?
I overcame my fear of the kitchen. I’m not afraid to at least TRY and cook.

Will you continue to work on your culinary skills?
Now that I have learned some helpful tips, I can’t wait to continue cooking at home!

If you could have a do-over of the challenge that sent you home, what would you do differently?
I wish I would have been more relaxed. My nerves got the best of me.

When you presented your final dish, how did you feel about it?
I felt so proud. I knew Chef would probably hate it but I couldn’t believe I actually made that!

What advice would you give to future Worst Cooks competitors?
Pay attention, be relaxed, and FOCUS!

What was the first dish or meal that you attempted to cook back at home after being eliminated? How did it go?
I bought a mandolin and attempted to make the potato cake. The potatoes were way too thick and it took forever. It was not good at all, but I did use a non-stick pan!

What was your most memorable or funniest moment while shooting the show?
Starting a fire on the first day and almost crying when I had to tear apart a chicken.

Read Anna’s Exit Interview, find out more about Worst Cooks in America and catch the show on Sundays at 9pm/8c.

Sandra’s Saturday Savings: Cost Control

by in Shows, January 22nd, 2011

Sandra Lee Every Saturday morning in January, Sandra Lee teams up with the FN Dish to bring you budget-friendly tips for creating delicious dishes and meals for your family. From the supermarket to the stove, she’ll help you stretch every dollar and minute.

This week, Sandra shares ideas for cutting costs that will help you save all year long.

1. Bring your lunch; it’s generally one-third the cost of buying your lunch from an inexpensive restaurant.

2. 5% of the average American’s income goes to fast food; that comes to an average of $1,820 per year! Avoid the urge to get fast food and cook at home.

3. The average American consumes over 50 gallons of soft drinks per year. Switching to water will save over $280 per person each year!

4. The average American throws away 14% of their food, which equals close to $600 per year. So heat up those leftovers and save!

5. The average monthly cost of food for a family of four is $1,126. If your family is way over that number, you might want to rethink your food spending.

Want more tips? Sandra’s shows are full of ‘em. Catch Money Saving Meals on Saturdays at 9am/8c and Semi-Homemade Cooking on Sundays at 11:30am/10:30c.

Worst Cooks, Episode 3: He Said, She Said

by in Shows, January 17th, 2011
Three weeks in, Robert and Anne are still scared to watch some of their recruits in the kitchen.

After each elimination on Worst Cooks in America this season, chefs Anne Burrell and Robert Irvine share their candid impressions of the booted recruits with the FN Dish. This week, they bid farewell to Matt from Robert’s Team and Priscilla from Anne’s Team.

"Priscilla was her own worst enemy," says Chef Anne. "She'd psych herself out."

Anne on Priscilla: Oh, Priscilla. Running around with the knife, she was just a whirling dervish. She’d psych herself out; she would get so wound up. She was a teacher who’s used to being in charge and not used to being the student. So she would kind of talk back to us, and I said, “You know Priscilla, what would you feel like if one of your students said this to you?” She said, “I would not accept it.” She would spin out of control. She really scared me a few times, running around with her knife pointed in the air, and she cut her finger one time and continued to cook with it, blood everywhere. But you know what, I really liked her. She’s a nice lady. I felt terrible about sending her home. She actually really wanted to learn. I think if she were to get in a one-on-one setting, not with all the challenges and the time and all that, she probably could learn. She was her own worst enemy.

"Matt never relaxed," says Chef Robert. "It was like somebody gave him 20 shots of espresso in the morning."

Robert on Matt: Matt was scared of his own shadow. But a super guy, a nice guy. As far as cooking skills, if you looked at him the wrong way he would probably pee his pants. He was that scared. We were outside and he was cutting with a knife; I thought he was going to take his fingers off. Matt never relaxed. It was like somebody gave him 20 shots of espresso in the morning and he didn’t stop. No expression. I didn’t know if he was going to cry, laugh, or hit me!

Don’t forget to vote for your favorite Worst Cooks recruit in our Fan Vote, up to 10 times per day.

Worst Cooks Exit Interview: Matt Crespi

by in Shows, January 17th, 2011
Matt's overcooked turkey and uneven potatoes sent him packing, but he remains convinced that his final dish tasted good.

Why did you need or want to be on Worst Cooks in America?
Where to begin…I once went through (read: destroyed) most of a loaf of bread in an attempt to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. To this day I maintain it was trick peanut butter, and not actually spreadable. The first time I tried to cook salmon; I took a piece of salmon, put it on a frying pan, and held it over a burner. Eating that salmon out of principle marked a low point not only in my cooking career, but also my life. I once ate a chicken sandwich out of vending machine that was better. (Years later, I found out you’re supposed to preheat the pan and put something like oil on it. Who knew?) My brother told me I made sushi-grade fish taste like cat food, but I think he’s just being kind because he’s my brother. While baking a brownie recipe which included instructions to “fold chips into the batter,” I laid out the batter, poured chocolate chips on half of it, picked up the other half and folded it over. When I couldn’t get the viscous chocolate mixture off my hands, my roommate had to hold a cell phone up to my ear so I could ask the recipe’s creator (my mother) what went wrong. Apparently “fold” is a metaphor.

What was the most valuable tip or piece of advice that you received from Chef Robert?
The most valuable thing I learned from Chef Robert was how to effectively use knives without injuring myself.

What did you take away from the experience?
Some cooking skills, some confidence in the kitchen, the ability to feed myself, 15 friends, 3 knives and one great story.

If you could have a do-over of the challenge that sent you home, what would you do differently?
I’d spend more time on the earlier steps, putting greater emphasis on thoroughness and less emphasis on speed. Multitasking to that degree with stringent time constraints was a new experience for me, and I overestimated my optimal pace.

When you presented your final dish, how did you feel about it?
I knew it had some technical problems, but I actually felt pretty confident. I may be a bad cook, but I’m awesome at eating, and I don’t mind telling you the dish tasted really good. Losing that challenge has in no way changed my favorable opinion of my dish’s flavor.

What was the first dish or meal that you attempted to cook back at home after being eliminated? How did it go?
When I got home, I cooked a pretty simple pan-fried chicken dish with peas. By my pre-show standards, it was epically edible. Since then, I’ve even invented a few successful recipes.

What advice would you give to future Worst Cooks competitors?
Have fun. If you’re freaking out and getting intimidated by free cooking classes, then you’re not doing it right. Also, don’t run while holding out a freshly sharpened chef’s knife. I cannot stress this enough.

Read Priscilla’s Exit Interview, find out more about Worst Cooks in America and catch the show on Sundays at 9pm/8c.

Worst Cooks Exit Interview: Priscilla Harden

by in Shows, January 17th, 2011
After gaining confidence on the show, Priscilla invited 20 people over for the Worst Cooks in America premiere and cooked for all of them!

Why did you need or want to be on Worst Cooks in America?
I need to repay my husband for cooking every meal for us from the time we dated to the present. The last time I cooked him a meal was in 1979 while we were dating. For two days, I called everybody I knew, in and out of state, to get advice on how to cook the meat (beef tips), the vegetables (turnips, corn, green beans) and the rice. After I was done, I invited him over to my apartment for dinner. I noticed that he took his time eating, and afterwards, he thanked me and told me I didn’t have to cook for him ever again! I thought he was just being nice, but I could never get him to come over and eat again. So, for 31 years, my sweetheart has cooked every meal for our family, including holiday meals, even after working all day. I need to learn how to cook so I can cook for him in order to show him how much I have appreciated his kindness all these years.

What was the most valuable tip or piece of advice that you received from Chef Anne?
I learned that plating the food aesthetically was as important as seasoning and cooking it correctly, because if it looks good, then it probably tastes good.

What did you take away from the experience?
Being on Worst Cooks in America gave me enough confidence to lose my fears about the notion that I can’t learn how to cook. Although I have a long way to go, I am now inviting people over to our home to eat. Now I have enough confidence to quit saying I don’t like to cook, which allowed me to hide behind the fact that I could not cook! I actually go into the kitchen and experiment with cooking and I find myself having fun and enjoying it as well.

If you could have a do-over of the challenge that sent you home, what would you do differently?
Instead of taking so many notes as if I were journal-writing, I would jot down the bare essentials for prep, seasoning and time allotment for cooking each dish, and then proceed as if I got this!

When you presented your final dish, how did you feel about it?
When I presented my final dish, I felt awful! I seasoned the steak with the wrong seasoning. I used hot pepper instead of the correct seasoning. When Chef Anne tasted my meat, she spit it out and poured it into the trash can! I was embarrassed and I felt incompetent because I made mistakes that should not have been made, including the fact that I did not plate the food cleanly or properly!

What was the first dish or meal that you attempted to cook back at home after being eliminated? How did it go?
The first dish I attempted to cook after I was eliminated was a chicken. Although I cut myself while cutting it up, I had fun! I tried cutting up the chicken in the order that we were taught, but I abandoned the procedure along the way when I became confused. Still, I got it done. And, although I did not use a “thank you for coming bowl,” I used a “thank you for coming bag,” which aided me in keeping my area clean. Chef Anne would have been proud of me! Furthermore, I have to admit, I ignored Chef Anne’s rule about not using black pepper to season food and it tasted fairly good to me. I remembered to taste the food as I cooked it, and I added more salt as I needed it.

Will you continue to work on your culinary skills?
Yes, just this past Saturday, I cooked some chicken breasts, green beans, cabbage and sweet potatoes. And, for the first time, I did not cut myself.

What was your most memorable or funniest moment while shooting the show?
My most memorable moment happened during an interview. I was trying to pronounce the name of a food seasoning item, or maybe it was a vegetable, but, regardless, my pronunciation of the word was terrible. Not only could I not master pronouncing it, I told the person who was interviewing me that I didn’t know if it were something you poured or cut. He said it would be our little secret.

Read Matt’s Exit Interview, find out more about Worst Cooks in America and catch the show on Sundays at 9pm/8c.