Each week (except last week) we take a quick, cautious look at what's going on with televised cooking. This week: Worst Cooks in America, a one-hour documentary about Arizona, Sundays at 9 p.m. on the Food Network.
Imagine a competition in which the worst cooks in America -- let's call it three homeless teens, two Wall Street guys, a club kid, and my sister -- think up the worst food in America, cook the worst food in America, plate the worst food in America, and then walk the worst food in America to a table of judges that contains Bobby Flay. And then Bobby Flay eats the worst food in America.
But that's not this show at all.
Not at all. Instead of a banker stuffing raw hamburger and cherry tomatoes into a waffle cone and making Bobby Flay eat it, we simply have bad cooks who want to cook better, which is everyone I've ever known, pretty much.
The contestants auditioned in cities across America.
Yes, while armed with containers of their worst food, a selection process so easy to game it amazes me that the controversy hasn't torn apart mid-level cable television. For example, the worse your food is, the better chance you have of getting on the show, so
You make hot dog soup.
You serve boiled offal with plum sauce, you squirt aerosol cheese on microwaved fish, you make a meat soufflé for the very first time from a recipe based entirely on your gut feelings about meat soufflés. Also, cities across America? Do we always need cities across America? This show did not need cities across America.
So, what's the show like?
So far, it's good. Forget everything I said before. You'll like this show. Imagine people who can't cook being spun into kitchen stadium, naked. I watched the premiere episode. Bobby Flay told everybody to cook anything they wanted in 45 minutes, in this huge kitchen, with all these refrigerators, with all these lights, with all this meat, with all of America watching, and everybody just died. They couldn't believe what was going on. Their minds were completely vaporized. It was like they were pushed into a dirt arena and told they better start killing people FAST. One guy looked around for a dishwasher to cook his fish in, one woman made a sandwich, another woman cut a bell pepper with scissors. This was really fun, high-class television. Laughing at these people.
Isn't there another judge, too? A famous one?
Yes, the one with the white-blond hair that goes out from the side of her head, electrically, like it's reaching back to the 1980s, reaching back to a time when someone might have said in a moment of kindness that is was fashionable. Not Guy Fieri.
Her name is Anne Burrell. The contestants are then split into teams chosen by the judges.
I'd forgotten about that, but yes. You've seen the show.
And then the judges show their teams how to cook pancakes.
That was just in the premiere. It was nice to see Bobby cook pancakes. It was like we were watching the Food Network.
But I didn't see Guy Fieri.
Then everybody loses their shit again because they have to cook the exact same pancakes as the judges?
Utter pandemonium. You'd think they were asked to land planes. If you think it's funny watching a trained chef cook risotto for Gordon Ramsay while sobbing and wailing -- and that is hysterical, and I love it -- try watching a court-reporting student make pancakes in 45 minutes without looking at the back of a box. They also made bacon and eggs. It ruined them.
Presumably the food gets tougher. I mean, pancakes.
Exactly. For the second show, which aired this weekend and which I didn't watch, because then I would have watched TWO successive episodes of a competition cooking show, they apparently pulled their own noodles. I don't even know what that means.
It's a cooking show with people who suck at cooking. They should have more people who suck at cooking on the Food Network. It's a nice angle. It's something to be proud of.
Previously, Michael Leaverton watched:
Bama Glama, the show all Alabama loves to fight over in comment threads