Food Network's "Worst Cook in America",an Intriguing Concept

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I Never Did Learn How to Get Crisp Bacon

This is a competitive reality series that might well only appeal to cooking food show junkies. Which would definitely include me.

I've been covering Top Chef Texas and for a completely different point of view I saw this show offered up via email to my in box that I should watch, maybe even review.

Finally, I thought, a show that will teach those of us who don't make risotto of any sort much less risotto with saffron threads and smoky mountain cheese.

For the "chef" contenders on this Food Network offering have likely never heard of risotto, much less ever made any.

From my email:

In the season premiere, the sixteen “recruits,” each nominated by family and friends for their atrocious cooking skills, arrive at Base Camp and attempt to impress Anne and Bobby with their own “signature” dish.
So families and friends nominate these contenders, I don't know whether I'd laugh or cry at such a questionable accolade. The commonality of all the contenders is their desire to really learn how to cook.

Anne Burrell and Bobby Flay are the two Chef mentors throughout this series.

Again from my email:

Anne Burrell has always stood out in the restaurant business for her remarkable culinary talent, bold and creative dishes, and her trademark spiky blond hair. After training at New York’s Culinary Institute of America and Italy’s Culinary Institute for Foreigners, she gained hands-on experience at notable New York restaurants including Felidia, Savoy, Lumi, and Italian Wine Merchants. Anne has also battled on Food Network’s Iron Chef America as Mario Batali’s energetic and reliable sous chef. Additionally, Anne taught for three years at New York’s Institute of Culinary Education

Bobby Flay’s versatility is evident in the multiple talents he brings to the field as a chef, restaurateur, cookbook author and media personality. Since debuting on Food Network in 1994, Bobby has continuously hosted programs that bring cooking tips and information on American regional fare to a national audience. He currently stars on the hit Food Network series Iron Chef America,

These two chefs are charged with a weekly series that has these alleged worst cooks in America participating in various cooking challenges. The challenges are supposed to teach these culinary disasters as well as provide a reason for each chef-mentor to send one contender home each week.

After several weeks of this set-up, both Bobby and Anne will end up with one final contender. Ideally this contender will have been groomed and trained well enough over the length of the series to compete in a final cooking show down that will have them cooking for world renown chefs on behalf of their mentors but for this final challenge, without their help.

My intrigue came from the notion that I might learn a few cooking tips for beginners, unlike nothing I would ever learn from Top Chef or even The Next Food Network Star.

In the first show the contenders were charged with making breakfast, including preparing four types of eggs and what I heard would be "crisp bacon". I got psyched.

I cannot get bacon properly crisped for nothing and I've tried frying, baking and microwaving the stuff. There is a point with bacon where you go beyond crisp to hard and rubbery. Do it too early and the bacon is not crisp. My ears must have been lying to me, however, as bacon was never fried. The lessons on preparing eggs was helpful I suppose but I have no problem with properly preparing eggs.

Bobby and Anne chose their team's contenders and on to the second show in the series. Now I am totally flummoxed.

The contenders were charged both with making their own noodles AND grinding and preparing their own meatballs.

 One of the Leader Chefs commented that it was much cheaper to make your own noodles and with this I scratch my head. Man, if you get a sale you can buy a pound of noodles for a buck a box. I can do a lot with a pound of noodles. I can't imagine how much cheaper than that you can get. Factor in all the bother and my total dislike for preparing anything that fills the air in my house with any kind of powdered stuff to include flour, baking soda or baking powder, and I don't want to make my own noodles for the bother. Oh I'll prepare such as pancakes or bread meat to fry as do most cooks but to save a penny for noodles? Not so much.

As for grinding your own meat for meatballs….how on earth is this something for cooks arguably described as the worst cooks in America? I wouldn't call myself a worst cook in America but I have NEVER ground my own meat for anything! Point being here, it's not that grinding your own meat isn't something nice to learn and a good skill for a more advanced cook (which I am NOT) to pursue. But for these alleged amateur cooks? Ground beef is easy to obtain in any supermarket and so is ground pork for that matter. Why bother dirtying up a complicated meat grinder when it's not the proper blade to grind these wannabe cooks need to learn but more the seasonings and tricks of perfecting the meatball?

So I'm a little skeptical of this show and these so-called "worst cooks in America". They're sure learning some complicated stuff.

Of course entertaining the viewing audience is part of the deal and I don't suppose it would due to have the contenders sprinkling seasoning and gently rolling meatballs as part of a challenge that would capture the cooking minds across the fruited plains.

Still, it's not Top Chef, it IS a cooking competitive reality series,, and it's kind of fun. We'll be checking in on this show from time to time over its contest span so come back to see what's going on.

Worst Cook in America can be seen on Food Network, Sunday nights, at 9pm.

Next we'll take a closer look at the contenders, their quirks and foibles.

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