Food Network’s new cooking competition show, Worst Cooks in America, needs to be retitled Most Offensive Display of Food Ever Conceived. The show takes what just might actually be the 12 worst cooks American homes have ever seen and put them under the watchful eyes of Chef Anne Burrell and Chef Beau MacMillan. The challenge is to take these horrific cooks and in just ten days transform them into chefs. At the end the contestants will cook for a panel of food critics that think the meal is being cooked by the chefs.
Worst Cooks takes the twelve contestants and splits them into two teams: one led by chef Burell, and the other by Chef Beau. Each week the contestants will be put through high pressure cooking challenges, until finally two remain to cook in the final battle. Up for grabs for the winner is a $25,000 cash prize, and the ability to claim they can cook.
Unfortunately for me I am a professional chef and cook, so a lot of what this show had to offer may be lost. Watching as a clueless woman tosses away a handful of saffron threads made me cringe. Treating food with such carelessness is the absolute worst thing I can think of to do in a kitchen, and the contestants on this show do it moment after moment. It’s also hard to believe that anyone would serve some of the food made in the premiere episode to anyone but an enemy.
While much of the series premiere focuses on telling the twelve contestants how horrible they are at applying heat to food until it’s done, there’s also something a little sweet about the show. Here are twelve people that do not understand even the fundamentals of cooking, and are willing to have a chef teach them to cook. All chefs are notoriously picky and kind of hard asses when it comes to food, especially their own. So it was interesting to watch Chef Burrell pick through the individual recreations of her dish and try to find the good as much as the bad. Perhaps his team was just so much worse, but Chef Beau appeared to have a hard time finding anything good about the versions of his own dish he tried.
My own personal belief is that if you want to, you can cook. It’s not really that hard to do basic cooking. What separates the professional’s from the good home cook is simply a matter of time and technique. The people vying for top position on Worst Cooks aren’t ready to blanch vegetables in the first episode. No, seriously they are not able to blanch bok choy when this competition starts. There’s an utter lack of knowledge that is astounding, but what the show also demonstrates is that no matter how bad you are in the kitchen there may still be hope.
Worst Cooks in America
Starring: Anne Burrell, Beau MacMillan
Premieres: Sunday, January 3 at 10:00 PM ET/PT on Food Network.