By now you’ve heard the news: Anne Burrell and Bobby Flay are returning for an all-new season of culinary Boot Camp on Worst Cooks in America, and this season, the stakes are higher than ever for these top-notch chefs and their teams of recruits alike. With an undefeated winning streak stretching three years, Chef Anne is looking to mentor her team of kitchen novices to the top once again and claim bragging rights over Chef Bobby, who will invest his best culinary chops in his own team in the hopes of finally dethroning his rival chef. On the line for the recruits? A whopping $25,000 prize and the title of the best of the worst in the kitchen.
Meet the 14 recruits vying for Worst Cooks glory and see a sneak peek of what’s to come in the season premiere by watching the all-new video below. Click the play button after the jump to view an insider’s clip of the contestants on day one of Boot Camp and get the first look at some of the hopelessly atrocious dishes that sent them on the show, plus hear Chef Anne’s and Chef Bobby’s reactions to the recruits.
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You may not be able to crank out a four-course dinner in an hour and your souffles may sink more often than they rise, but don’t despair because when it comes to grasping basic culinary know-how, you’re likely leagues ahead of the helpless kitchen novices on Worst Cooks in America.
Come February, Food Network will kick off an all-new season of competition among the best of the worst in the kitchen, as Chefs Anne Burrell and Bobby Flay return to lead 14 of the Worst Cooks in America through a rigorous, no-nonsense Boot Camp. This year’s recruits have been nominated by friends and family who’ve had the unfortunate experience of tasting the smelly, nauseating and overall unappealing creations these culinary felons are notorious for preparing . Chefs Anne and Bobby have just seven weeks to transform these cooking disasters into fearless kitchen leaders, and at the end of that time, the top competitors from each team will face off in a final showing for Worst Cooks glory and a life-changing $25,000 prize.
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It all started with a nation-wide search for the worst cooks in America. After narrowing that search down to 16 recruits, Bobby Flay and Anne Burrell each chose eight, making up their new teams for the season.
A new addition this season was Bobby Flay, who joined the show to battle it out against seasoned champ Anne Burrell. Each hopeless cook competed for a chance to win $25,000, which would be awarded to the winning contestant who achieved the most progress and best performance, in addition to a victory for his or her culinary mentor.
It can be argued that the recruits were handed some pretty difficult tasks this season, tasks that every day home cooks probably don’t tackle, like making their own noodles and cooking fresh seafood. But in addition to those, Bobby and Anne made sure they could handle the basics like making breakfast, cooking chicken to the proper temperature and rolling the perfect meatball.
SPOILER ALERT: The winner of Worst Cooks in America
The school bell rang in the seventh episode of Worst Cooks in America, and the remaining four recruits dealt with some of their toughest critics yet: 30 second-grade students with impressive palettes. Each recruit was tasked to create their own healthy spin on a cafeteria classic, as well as a veggie side dish. Anne’s team took on chicken tacos, while Team Bobby tried their hand at quesadillas. While these dishes may sound easy, it’s a struggle for cafeterias across the country to make meals nutritious.
One rule that was strictly enforced: sanitation and dealing with raw chicken. Bobby had no problem with the recruits getting him sick, but he was adamant about maintaining food safety and avoiding cross-contamination for the children, making Melissa bring her sauce to a boil to destroy possible bacteria after she cross-contaminated her spoon.
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From lobster to mussels to shrimp and whole arctic char, the sixth episode of Worst Cooks in America had the remaining recruits peeling, shucking and filleting several deep-sea treasures. For their first task, each team had to create a seafood tower, one of the most expensive dishes on a restaurant menu, consisting of mussels, lobster, shrimp, oysters and crab. After that, each member grabbed their knives and filleted a whole arctic char to create a dish for their mentor.
Everyone seemed to have issues at one point or another with cooking and/or prepping their seafood dishes. You can overcook shellfish in mere seconds, and choosing fresh fish can be intimidating. Below are Food Network’s simple step-by-step tips to create the ultimate seafood feast.
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At the beginning of Worst Cooks in America’s third season, Erica Weidner caught our eye by using scissors to cut up a bell pepper. We then asked you: What other gadgets have you used to cook up a dish in the kitchen? More than a hundred people responded with their go-to double-duty gadget techniques. They were so unique, we couldn’t choose just one. Here are our top two favorites:
1. Julie Lonkey uses a wide-blade drywall knife to get a smoother finish with buttercream on cakes.
2. Krista Lucken listed a few double-duty items, but using cupcake liners to keep pepper from escaping the pepper mill in the cabinet is pretty spectacular. Plus, when she measures fresh ground pepper, it gets ground right into the cupcake liner and then poured into a measuring spoon with no mess.
Our favorite budget-friendly anonymous tip
It was an Irish affair on the fifth episode of Worst Cooks in America. The remaining recruits first tackled making a team meal without the help of their mentors, but then they were asked to cater a party for St. Patrick’s Day. Each member was tasked with making a classic dish: potato skins, as well as one other dish with a recipe that was provided for them. Both Bobby and Anne stressed the importance of providing enough food for their guests. For this party, they needed to make 35 pieces of each dish to satisfy the crowd.
While each recruit had to put their own spin on the potato skin, each team had to keep one thing the same: Team Bobby had to deep-fry theirs and Team Anne needed to utilize the oven and roast theirs. For the demos, Bobby created a Crispy Potato Skin With Smoked Trout Salad and Anne made Roasted Potato Skins With Colcannon, the national fish of Ireland.
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The fourth episode of Worst Cooks in America had the remaining recruits tackling some of America’s favorite dishes in a quintessential atmosphere — a New Jersey diner. Diners have been a part of American history since the late 1800s and often resemble a mobile home. Known for offering a wide variety of dishes like French fries, nachos, grilled cheese sandwiches, chicken fingers and milk shakes, diners are a casual place to grab a bite to eat.
This week, Bobby and Anne tasked their teams with making two of those dishes: French fries for Team Anne and nachos for Team Bobby. Each team was shown the basics of frying and then they were asked to reinvent the classes with creative toppings.
Members from Team Anne aced the creativity portion of their test, creating sauces, guacamole and frying up eggs, but many of them had an issue with cooking the fry perfectly. According to Anne, all French fries should be double-fried; watch this video to learn how to cook French fries perfectly.
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The second episode of Worst Cooks in America had the remaining 14 recruits thinking international — that is, making meatballs from Sweden, India, Lebanon, France, Spain, Greece and Morocco. For their demos, the teams watched as Bobby took on a Mexican Meatball With Red Chile Tomato Sauce and Queso Fresco, while Anne took on an Italian meatball called Polpettini.
So what is the difference in these meatballs?
Even though we’re only one episode into the new season of Worst Cooks in America, there’s one contestant in particular that’s caught my eye: Erica Weidner. Playing for Team Bobby, she’s quirky, ready to learn and hilarious.
For the Baseline Skill Challenge, the contestants were asked to cook a dish that would “explain who they were.” Erica, whose family has dubbed her an impractical cook, thinks she’s just resourceful. We saw this come to play when she used scissors to cut up a bell pepper. In the past, she’s also used disposable razors to peel turnips and plyers to remove giblets from a frozen chicken.
This got me thinking: What other gadgets have people used to cook up a dish in the kitchen? Tell us in the comments below. The person with the most unique double-duty gadget technique will be featured in an FN Dish post next week.