Worst Cooks Exit Interview: Matt Crespi by FN Dish Editor in Shows, January 17th, 2011
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.