Premiering tonight, Food Network is putting a new spin on cooking competition shows. Worst Cooks in America finds a crew of contestants trying out for the opportunity to learn from Anne Burrell and Beau MacMillan. What they don’t know is that these two chefs are looking for the worst cooks, and they’re picking the people who will be on their opponent’s team.
The theory will be to prove who is the best teacher by taking the absolute worst cooks they can find and turning them into masters that will create food so amazing that these star chefs will be willing to put their own name on the line.
It’s certainly something you haven’t seen before, and so far I love it. Submitted by their friends and family as gloriously bad cooks, the competition is definitely going to be fierce, because these people are awful. It’s hard to say how much we’re going to see of the progression, because the show only runs six episodes (wrapping up February 1st), and that fact could easily go either way when it comes to the interest level the show can maintain.
I also wonder if chefs Anne and Beau are names that can manage their own draw, or personalities that deliver over consecutive weeks, but out of the gates the show is a lot of fun. Asked to create something to be judged by, some contestants made rice, pancakes, or even simply opened cans of soup, and still managed to present something inedible.
The show also works some interesting spins on the competition by offering challenges that swap team members, and putting a focus on letting the contestants’ ideas run things.
I have an immediate reaction toward wanting more episodes, but that may turn out for the best. Call me crazy, but this is my kind of show. Take some people who already own restaurants, and have worked with some of the guest judges, and see who among them is the best… well, it’s fine enough. But, take some people who can’t cook rice and get them to a point where they can make some great food (well, try to anyway)… that’s a fun show in my book.
Tune in tonight at 10pm, it’s going to be a fun ride. Better yet, set your Tivo to record it by clicking here.
This January, 12 of the most hopeless cooks in the country will compete in a high-stakes elimination series in Worst Cooks in America. At stake for the last two standing is the chance to cook for a panel of esteemed culinary critics and win the grand prize of $25,000. Premiering Sunday, January 3rd at 10pm ET/PT, the five-week series will put the “recruits” through a culinary boot camp led by two acclaimed chefs: Anne Burrell, host of Food Network’s Secrets of a Restaurant Chef, and Beau MacMillan, executive chef at elements in Phoenix.
“Watching the Worst Cooks in America struggle to become great cooks, makes a show that is very funny, dramatic and moving,” said Bob Tuschman, Senior Vice President, Programming and Production, Food Network. “Ultimately, it offers hope for even the most kitchen-challenged of our viewers.”
Under the tutelage of Chef Anne and Chef Beau, the recruits are split into two teams. They learn valuable culinary skills from their team leaders, which are then tested in a series of high-pressure challenges. Based on their performances, the recruits will be narrowed down each week until two are left standing to face the final challenge: prepare a three-course, restaurant-quality meal for a panel of food critics that thinks the dishes have been prepared by chefs Anne and Beau. On the line are the chefs’ professional reputations and $25,000 for the newly-crowned kitchen hero. The winner will be revealed during the finale on Monday, February 1st at 9pm ET/PT.
ABOUT ANNE BURRELL:
Anne Burrell takes the mystery out of the professional kitchen and translates restaurant-style recipes into approachable at-home meals on Food Network’s Secrets of a Restaurant Chef. Anne 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. Well-known as Mario Batali’s energetic and reliable sous chef on Iron Chef America, Anne served as executive chef at New York’s Centro Vinoteca from its opening in July 2007 through September 2008.
ABOUT BEAU MACMILLAN:
Beau MacMillan hails from Plymouth, Mass., and is a graduate of Johnson and Wales University in Providence, R.I. After graduation, he spent a year under the tutelage of Chef Francios Demueloge. Inspired by this experience, Beau joined the brigade at La Vieille Maison in Boca Raton, Fla., rising through the ranks to the position of sous chef. He then moved to Los Angeles where he held sous chef positions at the prestigious Hotel Bel Air and Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica, Calif. In 1998, he relocated to Phoenix to develop the cuisine at The Ranch on Camelback, which later became Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain. He then helped former Executive Chef Charles Wiley open elements restaurant in 2001, which he now oversees as executive chef. In addition to his restaurant work, Beau has competed on Iron Chef America and cooked at The James Beard House.