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Previous Episodes

Twenty-four of the worst home cooks in America train under the watchful eyes of the Food Network chefs to become one of the best.

Recaps by Chico Alexander, GSNN

Hosts Anne Burrell & Beau MacMillan
Creator/EP Bob Kirsh
Packager Optomen Productions for Food Network
Origins Food Network Studios New York
Web foodnetwork.com/worstcooks
Airs 10p Sun, Food
Available In High-Definition Where Available

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Into the Fire
January 3

For this new competition series on Food Network, I personally think that we need to go to the beginning...

cook (int. verb):  to prepare food for eating especially by means of heat.

So Alton Brown's book subtitle would be apt: cooking = food + heat. Simple concept really.

So it begs the question as to why in the world most people don't do it often. It could have to do with time... or lifestyles... or just not wanting to bother with dragging all of those plates and pans and pots out. But the crux of this argument is... cooking is like any other learned talent... Some people just can't do it.

Don't tell Anne Burrell or Beau MacMillan that. Both chefs with their combined years of culinary experience are putting their reputations on the line by training 24 home cooks to overcome their culinary inadequacy to become one of the best cooks in America. In the end, only two will remain, and their wares will be put in front of a panel of culinary experts and critics. They'll have to convince them that those dishes are cooked by these two acclaimed chefs and NOT by... THE WORST COOKS IN AMERICA.

The titular elements are as follows...

- Eddie Chang (Jersey City, NJ)
- Rachel Clark (Huntington Beach, CA)
- Rachel Coleman (Brooklyn, NY)
- Jenny Cross (Philadelphia)
- Sophia Gettys (Aurora, CO)
- Hamed Hamad (Studio City, CA)
- Marque Hernandez (Brea, CA)
- Rebecca Hooper (Sandy, UT)
- Patty Hughes (Astoria, NY)
- Kelly Johnson (Scottsdale, AZ)
- Wilhelmenia Josephine (Aliso Viejo, CA)
- Sauvion Morkunas (Porter Ranch, CA)
- Craig Morris (Riverside, CA)
- Marcus Santi (Santa Monica, CA)
- Eddie Schudel (Reston, VA)
- Susie Shoman (Georgetown, SC)
- David Summey (Charlotte)
- Jen Vecchio (Cumberland, RI)

Now... the rub. Twenty-four cooks enter... but twelve will leave. TODAY. The other 12 will go on to an intense culinary boot camp. How to decide? How about an audition challenge? Make your best dish for the chefs.

And ... another "the rub". Anne and Beau are going to pick EACH OTHER's teams... AND they're going to pick the worst. You see, this is also a competition between the chefs, as Anne and Beau think they can outcook and outteach each other. We'll see who can and who can't... later on.

The dishes:

- Rachel Co.: Three Cheese Macaroni & Cheese (cheddar, cottage, and gouda).
- Hamed: Tomato Soup
- Marque: Pork Loin & Asparagus
- Jen: Tuna Mac
- Marcus: Raw Chicken Kabobs with Brown Rice
- David: Triple Chocolate Pancakes
- Rachel Cl.: Pad Thai
- Susie: "Just a bunch of cans of soup thrown in a pot"
- Wilhelmenia: Roots on Rhubarbs with Asparagus and Tri-Tip
- Craig: Deconstructed fajitas
- Eddie S: "My signature date dish."
- Patty: Goulash
- Rebecca: Spinach Pasta with Broccoli and Cheese
- Sauvion: one whole boiled chicken.
- Jenny: Peanut Butter Encrusted Cod
- Eddie: Fried rice
- Kelly: Pasta Pocket
- Sophia: Ground Turkey Meatloaf with Yams

And apparently six dishes that were so bad that they are not fit for broadcast. Or basic cable, for that matter.

The teams...

TEAM BEAU: Wilhelmenia, Susie, David, Marque, Jen, Sophia
TEAM ANNE: Jenny, Rachel Co., Rebecca, Hamed, Eddie, Kelly

The others... are NOT the worst cooks in America. That's the biggest backhanded compliment that they're going to hear. The other 12 are going to enter a 10-day boot camp in which they will be transformed into a cook with some class... a contender, if you will.

Now... this is a game show, and we've yet to talk cash money. The one chef who makes it all the way through to the end and cooks the best meal for the critics' table will receive cash money in the amount of... $25,000. 

The cooking starts bright and early tomorrow. For now... there's a penthouse with your name on it.


Boot camp begins. Beau and Anne expect nothing short of excellence.

Main Dish Challenge: Chefs Beau & Anne will create a dish that each cook will have to replicate exactly. Anne will be making a Tuscan shellfish stew. Beau is whipping up a poached tiger prawn with littleneck clams, bok choy and shiitake mushrooms in Asian broth. Cooks will have one hour to cook everything.

And on the first day, Sophia smokes up the kitchen. Not a good sign. Marque's clams aren't opening. David finishes his dish, but he doesn't remember how Beau garnished it. Wilhelmenia's broth has too much soy in it. She ends up very flustered. And she's running out of time. So she has to go with it... hiding her disaster with silverware.

Over on the red side, it's been 30 minutes and Hamed hasn't started cooking yet... and Rachel threw away $40 in saffron. That's a pretty pricey chuck there, lady. Eddie finishes very early, and he hopes that he didn't forget anything. Eddie takes some time to help Hamed, who looks like he hasn't even started. Anne tells him to go back to his station.

And.... that's time. Hamed's clams never open. That could be bad.

So far, we had some up moments and some down moments on the red side. Hamed's missing his clams, which never opened all the way. The shrimp is cooked well.... that's Eddie's doing. Speaking of which... Eddie went heavy on the saffron AND undercooked the shrimp.

On the blue end, Susie's dish is impressive, and shrimp is cooked on the money. Sophia's on the button as well, but it's sloppy. Marque's dish has promise. Wilhelmenia's dish... is basically unimpressive. David's garnish pisses Beau off royally. Jen's shrimp is overcooked.

Someone on each team is going home tonight.

First... some good news... Rebecca, as the best of the red team, is safe from the cut. Her blue side equivalent... Marque. Joining them on the Red: Rachel, Jenny, and Kelly. Joining them on the Blue: Susie, Sophia, and Jen.

That leaves David and Wilhelmenia on the blue... Eddie and Hamed on the red. Two of them are going home. Eddie went crazy with the saffron. He needs to learn to taste all of his food. Hamed broke down in every sense possible. Wilhelmenia did her dish to death. David... went off book.

Safe on the red team.... Eddie. Safe on the blue team... David. Both Hamed and Wilhelmenia are out of the running, but don't give up cooking.

So what did we learn today?

- "mise en place" is a French term for "put in place". That means all of your ingredients are organized in one place and only one place.
- "sweating a vegetable" is like "sweating a person": you let out water and you start to smell. It's basically one step DOWN from a full-on saute.
- "blanching" means to cook quickly in hot water. "Shocking" means to cool it down in ice water afterwards. It preserves the color and flavor of your green leafy vegetables.
- If a shrimp is pink, that means it's cooked all the way. Anything else... it's inedible.
- tasting is your friend, every step of the way.

What more could the worst cooks in America pick up? Find out next time.

To see bonus footage from this episode, go to http://www.foodnetwork.com/worstcooks.