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Food Network: Showcasing the Worst?

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Written by Heather Jones   
Sunday, 03 January 2010

ImageThere are hundreds of reality shows on television right now and many are focusing on the world of food.  We have shows featuring the best chefs in the country, shows with individuals who want their own cooking shows, a competition for the aspiring Robert Mondavi's out there and the list just goes on. 

But, the Food Network has decided to shake things up a bit with their newest concept "Worst Cooks in America".  The show, scheduled to premier Sunday, January 3rd features twelve of the worst cooks in America broken up into teams of two headed up by New York City Chef and Food Network personality Anne Burrell (who also happens to be one of my former Culinary Instructors), and esteemed Arizona based Chef and Iron Chef Competitor Beau Macmillian.

ImageNot only are the contestants competing for the opportunity to improve their culinary skills and earn a $25,000 cash prize but Chefs Burrell & Macmillian are also using the contest as a way to see just who the better teacher is.  I had a chance to not only preview the show, but also speak with Chef Macmillian. Here's a little of what he had to say about the new show.

Q. Did you feel like any of the contestants were faking their inability to cook?

A. Although I felt a few of them were probably holding back a little and pretending to be less knowledgeable about cooking than they actually were, none of them were a closet Gordon Ramsey. All could benefit from the competition.

Q. What was your initial reaction when Food Network approached you about the show, or did you have anything to do with the concept?

A. I had nothing to do with the concept, Food Network called me with the idea of co-hosting the show. Needless to say I was pretty flattered.  I think the concept of the show is a great one, it has all of the elements that make it good reality TV.  There's drama, suspense, it's entertaining, and there's something heartening about watching these 12 underdogs work their way up to becoming better cooks. 

Q. I know this isn't culinary school but what are some of the fundamentals that you're hoping to introduce to these home cooks, if any?

A. The competition is like an intensive boot camp so although they won't get the same training as a full fledged culinary course they do learn the importance of prep work (mise en place) and there are knife skills drills. Some of the most important fundamentals are being introduced.

Q. Why do you think this show is going to be a hit?

A. Because there are many people out there who can relate to the contestants, and will hopefully be inspired to get up, get in the kitchen and improve their own skills as a result.

Q. What's next for you, another show perhaps?

A. I have enjoyed this experience so much and would be honored to have an opportunity to continue on with the show. I'm also in the process of a two million dollar kitchen renovation at my spa/resort in Arizona which will definitely keep me busy.

It will be interesting to see which contestant will rise to the top in this competition, and just how dramatically their cooking skills will improve. As to which Chef will come out as the better instructor it's anybody's guess.  Having worked with Chef Burrell I can honestly say that she knows her stuff, she has a tremendous knowledge base and an incredible skill set that the contestants can learn from. Chef Macmillian I don't know as well, but if first impressions count for anything then I'd say these two will run neck and neck through the entire competition. 

Disclosure: Samples of products discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or manufacturers.

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