Worst Cooks in America

Food Network Delivers Best Quarter in History

1st Quarter Finished Highest-Rated and Most-Watched
Ranked #9 Cable Network

Guy Fieri Food Network StarNEW YORK – March 26, 2012–Food Network delivers its highest-rated, most-watched quarter ever posting a .6 among adults 25-54 (up 20% from 2011) and was watched nightly by an average of 1.3 million total viewers (645k adults 25-54), making it ranked 9th * among ad-supported cable networks for the quarter, up two spots from 2011.  March also culminated as the 7th consecutive month that Food Network has had “highest-ever” individual, monthly delivery.

Food Network’s Sunday night tentpole programming continues to drive the record-breaking success, beginning with Rachael vs. Guy Celebrity Cook-Off posting a 1.3 adult 25-54 rating for the season, having premiered as the #1 show in its timeslot. Returning series, Worst Cooks in America has averaged a 1.1 adult 25-54 rating over its seven-week run, with the upcoming finale to air Sunday, April 1st at 9pm.

Other standout primetime performers include Restaurant: Impossible which averages a .9 adult 25-54 rating and up 68% over year ago timeslot, Chopped (averaging a 1.0 adults 25-54 rating in its regular timeslot), Cupcake Wars (averaging .7 adults 25-54 rating) and newcomers Restaurant Stakeout, which has averaged a .9 rating adults 25-54 since premiering on March 14th and season two of Sweet Genius which premiered March 15th has averaged a .7 adults 25-54 rating, up 17% from season one.

*at time of release according to Nielsen Media Research

Flay Joins Burrell for New Season Of “Worst Cooks”

Food Network Press Release:

Worst CookNEW YORK – January 3, 2012 – Worst Cooks in America, the hit primetime competition series that turns hopeless cooks into confident kitchen mavens, returns for a third season with two-time undefeated series champion Anne Burrell challenged by superstar chef Bobby Flay on Sunday, February 12th at 9pm ET/PT. The show pits Anne against Bobby, each leading a team of eight “recruits” in a grueling eight-week boot camp designed to transform these culinary disaster-makers into competent cooks. A $25,000 grand prize will be awarded to the winning contestant who achieves the most progress and best performance, in addition to bragging rights and victory for their culinary mentor.

“After two undefeated seasons of Worst Cooks in America, I’m ready for a third,” said Burrell. “Going against Bobby Flay takes the challenge to another level, but I’m ready to whip these contestants into shape and the winner is sure to be from Team Burrell.”

“Anne may have had some early victories in past seasons, but this show is ready for a change and I’m going to bring it,” said Flay. “I’ll work my team until they can chop, filet and grill with the best of them.”

In the season premiere, the sixteen “recruits,” each nominated by family and friends for their atrocious cooking skills, arrive at Base Camp and attempt to impress Anne and Bobby with their own “signature” dish. The chefs then make their team picks and for their first challenge, the contestants engage in a high-stakes breakfast battle – with Anne’s team attempting Orange Pumpkin Pancakes with Vanilla Whipped Cream and Cinnamon Maple Syrup and Bobby’s recruits assigned Bobby’s Blue Corn Pancakes with Whipped Orange Honey Butter and Cinnamon Maple Syrup. But some of these recruits can barely fry an egg, so the chefs go back to basics demoing some simple egg techniques. The contestant with the least successful dish on each team is sent home, while the remaining fourteen competitors cook on.

Upcoming episodes feature an international cuisine challenge, seafood preparation and cooking for a class of third graders – culminating in the series finale on Sunday, April 8th at 9pm ET/PT, where the two most improved contestants are judged by culinary experts David Burke, Marcus Samuelsson and Susan Feniger and the $25,000 grand prize winner is named.

Ina Garten – The Heartless Contessa?

I never understood the hullabaloo Food Network threw over Robert Irvine slightly fudging on his resume.  After all none of what he listed was false just exaggerated; still he was suspended.  JAG was pulled from the finale of NFNS 4 for the same thing although his “exaggerations” were a bit more exaggerated.  Worst Cooks in America host Beau MacMilan had a minor traffic violation that resulted in his job being pulled, ironically he was replaced by Irvine.

On the grand scheme of things these are not serious infractions.  Not in the least but it does make one wonder how Food Network and parent company Scripps Networks will handle the recent actions of Barefoot Contessa hostess Ina Garten.  After all, punching up your resume or rolling through a stop sign are nothing compared to telling a dying child you’re too busy to meet them.

Apparently that is exactly what Garten did.  On March 25th TMZ and about three dozen other media sources reported that she repeatedly snubbed the dying wish of a terminal Leukemia victim.  Here’s an excerpt from TMZ’s report:

… a little boy named Enzo was approached by the (Make-A-Wish) organization after he was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia three years ago.

Enzo told Make-A-Wish … he really wanted to cook with the “Barefoot Contessa” host because he would often watch the show with his mother while resting in bed.

M.A.W. approached Garten with the wish last year … but at the time, she was unable to meet with Enzo due to a book tour.  The organization urged Enzo to pick another wish, but he told them he wanted to wait until she becomes available.

We’re told the organization went back to Ina this year … but her team responded with a “definite no” … once again, citing scheduling conflicts.

A member of Enzo’s family says the 6-year-old is heartbroken … and asked parents, “Why doesn’t she want to meet me?”

Now I have acknowledged that I think Garten’s food and creativity are quite good but I’ve also gone on record as not being a fan of the Barefoot Contessa program.  To me it is one of the most boring cooking shows around.  I am not alone in my belief that if Ina Garten were not Martha Stewart’s best friend no one would know who she was.  She damned sure wouldn’t have a nationally televised cooking show.  That being said, she does score exceptionally well in one demographic – well-to-do housewives from the Hamptons.

However, I don’t see that trend remaining after telling a dying child they aren’t important enough to meet her.  It sounds like someone is taking their “Contessa” title a little too seriously doesn’t it?  It would appear Garten thinks she is something more than just another well-to-do housewife from the Hamptons.

I might could swallow the “scheduling conflicts” excuse but who has a year worth of scheduling conflicts?  I’ll tell who wouldn’t – Bobby Flay.  Flay is an actual chef who runs nearly a dozen restaurants from Vegas to Nassau, owns a production company, makes countless personal appearances and stars in four TV series.  That certainly demands more time than just shooting one TV show from your home and doing the occasional book signing but I’m willing to bet that had Make-A-Wish called Flay would have been on the next flight out.

Since the story has hit the public spotlight, Garten has miraculously found a little time in her busy stay-at-home schedule to honor Enzo with her presence.  For his part Enzo says he no longer cares to spend his last few days on earth cooking scones with her royal highness.  His new last wish is to go swimming with dolphins.  Good for him.

I cannot help but contrast Garten’s callousness with what I witnessed firsthand in tiny Dauphin Island, Alabama.  Dauphin Island is a resort town of 1300 people on the Gulf of Mexico that has two industries – tourism and fishing.  Both of those were eliminated a year ago when the Deepwater Horizon oil spill struck.  Both BP and the White House have essentially Contessa’d the Gulf Coast but Good Eats host Alton Brown managed to spend an entire weekend of his time helping the Island rebound from an ecological, economic and bureaucratic nightmare.

Now if saying you cooked an entire meal for the Royals when it was only dessert results in one year of TV exile and saying you were stationed on the Afghan-front when you were actually stationed at a support facility miles from the action means you don’t ever get a cooking show at all then anything short of Food Network pulling all affiliation with Garten is unacceptable.  She’ll be okay, she still has her pal Martha Stewart to prop her “career” up.  I understand that celebrities cannot honor every single request for their time but when a dying six-year-old says that their last wish is to spend a few minutes cooking with you how do you say “no” and still sleep at night?

Worst Cooks In America 2011 Winner

worst cooks in america

Just a quick note to congratulate the 2011 winner of Worst Cooks in America:

Joshie Berger

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Stuart in 80 Words or Less

Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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Stuart’s Honors & Awards

2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up

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