Food: ‘Worst Cooks in America’ finale

The last episode of Food Network’s “Worst Cooks in America” (season 1, will there be more?) aired Monday night. The two-part finale cut down the final four to the final two on Sunday and Monday.

Beware of spoilers as you read on.

“Worst Cooks” finished so fast that I didn’t even have time to get into the routine of watching this show. All I saw was the first episode on Jan. 3, a few clips in the middle, and Monday night’s episode.

Usually, I hate to see a series out of order (and I’d stay away from the finale), but I was not attached to “Worst Cooks in America.” I’m itching to finish the most recent season of Top Chef! All I have left is the final episode, and it’s driving me crazy!

What’s this show all about?

The show revolves around Chef Beau MacMillan (global chef; I’ve never seen him on Food Network) and Chef Anne Burrell (host of FN’s “Secrets of a Restaurant Chef” and also seen in Iron Chef as sous-chef to Mario Batali). The two chefs recruit the worst cooks by asking them to bring a dish–an obvious flaw from the start. Of course, some people can bring extremely horrendous dishes to exaggerate how bad they cook and get on TV. What good way is there to see who cooks the worse without someone intentionally sabotaging themselves?

Anyway, 24 contestants are chosen to compete for 12 spots in a 10-day culinary boot camp, where they will go from (FN’s favorite catch phrase to follow) “kitchen zeros to kitchen heroes.”

Get a taste of the kind of competition:

****SPOILER below****

Finale notes

When I tuned in to “Worst Cooks,” I was a bit surprised to see who made the top two: Jenny (working with Chef Beau) and Rachael (working with Chef Anne). There were some clips from previous episodes that showed us how horrible they were. Footage of Jenny’s potato pancake breakdown was shown multiple times–she was actually crying. During this episode, Chef Anne was hard on Rachael by calling her wimpy and urged her to be aggressive.

The main reason this show is appealing may be because of the laughs you get when there is a kitchen mishap. I don’t find the chef’s comments during the taste testing or throughout the show funny at all.

For the finale, Chef Anne and Beau were teaching the last two cooks a 3-course meal and leaving them to recreate it themselves for a panel of three judges. The twist: the judges think that the food they’re eating is from Chef Anne and Beau. It got a bit annoying when both chefs kept repeating “I’m putting my reputation on the line!” Apparently, Food Network employees/hosts/regular judges don’t know what the network is up to and had no inkling about this show. I thought the reactions to the big reveal were a little forced, but who knows. Maybe I’m just appalled that Alex Guarnaschelli, the female judge on FN’s “Chopped,” was brought out to judge because I think she’s looking to earn the title of mean/tough judge. I do respect the comments from the other two judges, who have judged for Iron Chef battles. (Did anyone else notice that the woman on the right, when you’re looking at the screen, lost weight?)

Jenny & Rachael’s finale menu

Jenny made potato pancakes with salmon tartare as an appetizer, a seafood main course, and a chocolate torte with coffee cream (sounds dee-lish); there was no time to caramelize the strawberries that went with the dessert. Rachael made a salad with poached egg for the appetizer, a pasta dish for the main course, and chocolate hazelnut panna cotta for dessert, which unfortunately for her didn’t taste like chocolate.

Winner

I did not agree with the final decision. Though I did not watch the entire 6-episode season, I based my opinion on what I saw on the last competition. It seemed like Rachael had some obvious errors in her dessert and Jenny induced less negativity from the judges. In the end, Rachael was announced the winner, who receives $25,000. Her mom then popped out of nowhere to congratulate her. Doesn’t that mean that Rachael’s family is there too, no one could have known the winner in advance.

Final Thoughts (kind of lengthy)

This series did not amaze me but perhaps there will be improvements that will make it easier to watch.

My thoughts on what should be changed: Less focus on the chef name-calling and more exciting activities for the contestants.

Every commercial for “Worst Cooks” tries to hype up the big rivalry between the two chefs, but that approach was not very fitting. While watching the show, I saw how much that aspect took over and it seemed childish and fake. The focus should stay on the contestants. It’s as if Food Network thought the show could only survive by using a cheap tactic like sibling rivalry (yeah, I know Chef Anne and Beau aren’t related). The comebacks between the two host chefs were jam-packed into the final episode, and they were rather lame. I can’t say how many were inserted into the other episodes, but there must have been at least one every 5 minutes (that’s a low estimate).

Activity ideas for the contestants could take them out of the studio and onto the street. They could go to an outdoor market and learn valuable skills while competing. Each person would learn valuable tips on how to choose and buy fresh ingredients, then go on a scavenger hunt-like challenge.

It would also be neat for the 12 contestants to have a full 10-days to learn skills and then start battling each other in the kitchen afterward. But I guess Food Network wanted to branch out of their regular cooking competitions with “Worst Cooks.”

Though “Worst Cooks in America” had a new spin on the cooking competition, I think it could be better. The show is over for now; will you miss it?

**SMAG wants to know: Did you watch the finale? Were you on the red or blue team? Did you enjoy the rivalry between the two chefs? Who did you think was the worst cook?

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