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The Worst Cooks in America Review: “Do It Yourself Cooking”

This week on Worst Cooks, the recruits are tackling two real life cooking challenges: make your own take out and make your own special occasion cake. These are both cooking projects that many home cooks attempt, but that can be surprisingly difficult. I think the recruits are in for quite a challenge. Let’s talk about how they did.

Things get kicked off with a surprise home visit from Anne and Bobby. The surprise ends up being more for Anne and Bobby instead of the recruits. When they walk into the kitchen they find now cooks and no food. Instead, they find a pile of take out menus that the recruits have collected during their time at the house. Anne and Bobby decide to make this their Skill Drill.

bobby vs. anne

Skill Drill
The recruits are assigned to make their own Chinese take out. And not only that, Anne and Bobby are going to place an order at a local Chinese place and the recruits will have to ‘race’ the actual take out guy to get their dishes finished in time. I just hope someone gives the delivery guy the wrong address to slow him down a bit.

Anne’s team is learning to make Shrimp Fried Rice (yum!!) and Bobby’s team will be tackling Shrimp Lo Mein. Both teams are learning to clean and prep shrimp, although the Blue Team is weirded out a bit by having to leave the heads on their shrimp. Both dishes follow similar methods and flavor profiles and for the most part, are one pot meals. Great dishes for a home cook to have in their back pocket.

I like Anne’s method of giving them little tips to help them remember basics such GGS: ginger, garlic and scallions. A trio of flavors that make up a base of many Chinese dishes. Her team can tuck that hint away in the back of their brain to reference later. She also gave them a soy sauce pouring trick to help them avoid using too much in their dishes. That seems to have left an impression on her entire team.

The recruits get started and seem mostly excited about being able to learn how to make their own take out; although several of them seem pessimistic about being able to complete this challenge in the time allowed. At least this group of recruits seem like adventurous eaters regardless of their actual cooking skills.

Anne and Bobby place their actual take out order and the recruits get to work, flying fast to try to beat the clock. Rasheeda is in the groove on Anne’s team and seems like she will be doing well. Michael also seems to have his head on straight, as well, while getting his dish put together. Carla, on the other hand, is all over the place. At one point her peas end up in her shirt. Not to mention her butchering of the word, Thai. She repeatedly pronounces it ‘thigh’ and I think Bobby is worried that she is hitting on him again. It’s definitely a valid concern.

Carrie Lee is also making me nervous, burning her garlic right off the bat and then forgetting her peas completely.

Chet, on the other hand, seems to be the steadiest on the blue team, going through his steps without many issues.

Sure enough, on Anne’s team Rasheeda totally impresses Anne with her Shrimp Fried Rice and earns the win for the Red team. Crystal doesn’t serve an egg on top of her rice and that lands her in the bottom.

Bobby awards the winning dish to Chet who is thrilled, but Carla finds herself in the bottom for an overly spicy dish.

At several points during the tasting, the Chefs comment about things being slightly over cooked, or a bit sloppy with the knife skills. While these are criticisms, they are less serious offenses than a dish being flat out inedible. What a difference a week makes.

Hopefully this improvement will continue into their next challenge: Baking.

Main Dish Challenge
Anne and Bobby bring in three special guests: Dash and Sawyer who are seven year old twin boys, and Rita who is about to retire after 42 years. The recruits’ challenge is to bake these guests a celebration cake. The Blue Team gets assigned the boys’ birthday cake and the Red Team will be baking for Rita and her retirement.

The chefs bring in Ron Ben-Israel in to demonstrate the baking of a celebration cake. He covers everything from measuring dry ingredients to whipping up a Swiss Meringue Butter Cream frosting. He then shows the recruits how to assemble a layer cake and even gives them ideas for how to make the cake their own by adjusting and tweaking the flavors.

While he seems to be very patient and covering all of the baking steps thoroughly, this is still a rather complicated and intimidating demonstration. The recruits look very nervous and overwhelmed. There are many, many places in this cake baking process where things can go wrong. Horribly wrong.

After the demo from Ron Ben-Israel, the teams are off and running. Things go immediately off course when it is clear that both Chet and Carla have next to no common sense. Chet is searching the kitchen high and low for a 3/4 tsp measuring spoon and it’s not until Carrie Lee tells him that he can use the 1/4 tsp, 3 times, that the light bulb turns on. Oh, Chet…

Carla is in a world of her own while measuring milk. She decides she is going to eye ball the amount in a dry measuring cup. And then, after her bake literally falls apart, she shoves it back together using caramel sauce and frosting creating a big old mountain of cake. And not a good mountain. A lopsided and lumpy mountain. Carla better hope that someone’s cake is worse.

Then they break out the food processors, and no one apparently has ever seen a food processor or has any clue of how to operate one. It’s a train wreck.

Speaking of wreck, Crystal drops one of her unbaked cake pans on the floor on her way to the oven so she’s down half a cake. Not a good way to start seeing as how she was on the bottom in the Skill Drill. Anne is not impressed.

Sue is struggling with her own problems when her cake does weird bubbly things and her icing makes Ron Ben-Israel shake his head, speechless. This is not going to end well for Sue.

On a different note, Alina is working on a very kid friendly, colorful cake with a peanut butter and jelly theme. If she pulls it off, it could be very well received by Dash and Sawyer. Rasheeda also seems to be doing pretty well. After getting her food processor working, she seems to be in a good baking rhythym. At least until she starts grating fresh ginger over the top of her icing. Yes. Fresh, grated ginger on a cake. Maybe not the best idea she ever had. Creative, but not well thought out.

Red Team Tasting
Anne and Rita taste the cakes that the Red Team has baked up and both are quite pleased with Rasheeda’s cake. Well, except for the raw ginger. Apparently, it’s not as bad as it seemed like it could be. on the other hand, Anne is very disappointed in…well, pretty much the rest of her team. She is fed up with Crystal’s excuses, Sue’s horribly under-baked cake and Michael’s ridiculously decorated cake. I mean, he spelled out words using raisins for goodness sakes. Not good looking, Michael. Not at all.

Bobby, Dash and Sawyer taste the Blue Team’s cakes with similar results. The high note on the Blue Team is Alina’s cake. They boys like the green color of the cake and Bobby says it actually tastes pretty good. It seems like her improving in the kitchen has paid off once again. Carla turns in her pile of brown mess. It’s difficult to even watch. Needless to say, Bobby and the boys are not pleased.

Moving on…

Chet’s cake looks beautiful, but apparently doesn’t taste like much of anything. Carrie Lee’s cake also looks half way decent (although the boys say it’s girly) but Bobby likens the flavor to furniture cleaner. Note to self: don’t pair lemon icing with sour candies. It won’t taste good.

Anne gives Rasheeda the win from her team, having been able to look past the fresh ginger and focus on the fact that she actually  made a decent cake. Two for two  this week, Rasheeda. Nice work! Crystal gets sent home after delivering too many excuses to Anne for not delivering her dishes. Sue and Michael receive stern warnings to get their acts together next week or get packing.

Bobby congratulates Alina on her creative pairing and successful cake. Her unusual flavor pairings seem to be working for her and I’ll be interested in seeing what she cooks up next week. Bobby shocks me by sending Carrie Lee home instead of Carla. I really didn’t see that coming. All I can say is that Carrie Lee’s cake must have tasted unbelievably awful if it was worse than the hot mess that Carla delivered. Maybe Bobby likes Carla’s flirting after all. She is entertaining, I’ll give her that.

Overall, this was a great episode. We saw the recruits make great strides with their general cooking skills as well as several of them rise to the difficult challenge of baking and decorating a celebration cake.

I am looking forward to what Anne and Bobby have in store for them next week.

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