One-on-One with the Latest Recruit Eliminated from the Blue Team — Worst Cooks in America
This season on Worst Cooks in America, 14 new helpless home cooks have joined the ranks to be mentored by chefs Tyler Florence and Anne Burrell. Split into the Blue and Red teams, they'll face new cooking challenges every week, honing their skills until just two finalists (one from each team) remain to face off in one final cook-off, the winner of which will walk away with $25,000 in cash, along with bragging rights for his or her mentor. Unfortunately, however, every week the two lowest-scoring recruits will be kicked out of Boot Camp, losing the chance to win the prize money, but leaving with new skills they've learned from their mentors.
FN Dish has the exclusive interviews with the eliminated recruits from the Red Team and the Blue Team.
This week not only were the recruits cooking a multi-component breakfast, but they also had to work as a team in order to pull off a three-course dinner for their mentors and special guests, former Boot Camp recruits. Although Sharif did well in the Skill Drill challenge, when it came to managing his team in the Main Dish challenge, things didn't work out so well. The pork roast ended up undercooked in the center, and so did the sticky toffee cake. In the end the captain went down with the ship and Sharif was sent packing.
FN Dish: During the breakfast demo you seemed really confident, but at times it looked like you might not have been paying attention to what Tyler was doing. What was going through your mind?
Sharif: I think my confidence arose from the confusion on my fellow contestants’ faces. I know I'm more than capable of following simple instructions, and when I saw that Genique and Sarah were overwhelmed, I began to feel more at ease. … What was going through my mind was, besides from my Foreman grill, my second area of expertise is breakfast, so it was sleepy time for Genique and Sarah.
Your omelet turned out better than your French toast, but it seemed like during the challenge you spent more time focusing on the French toast. What happened?
If there's one thing I don't enjoy eating or cooking, it's anything to do with sweets. French toast was very unfamiliar territory for me. Eggs, on the other hand? I can whip some up while sleepwalking. So my primary focus was making sure the French toast looked somewhat edible and appetizing.
Were you overwhelmed by having to cook an entire dinner in the main challenge? And how did you feel being the team leader?
At first I was very overwhelmed with all the instructions and lack of demos for the main dish. I knew I had a strong team with me that was capable of brilliant things. At this point of the competition, Sarah, Genique and I have proved we can have what it takes, so I felt comfortable cooking as a team. On the other hand, being the team leader instantly gave me the impression that if I messed up in the slightest, that I would be the one eliminated. The chefs weren't in the kitchen to survey us, so if Chef Tyler wasn't satisfied with our efforts, then I would be the one to blame.
You and Genique were helping each other during both challenges that day, but in the main challenge you two seemed to exclude Sarah from decisions. Why was that?
I've loved Genique from the first time we met, and from there we've clicked and helped each other throughout the competition. I wouldn't say Sarah was excluded at all, but I knew certain things needed to get done in the kitchen and I assigned instructions accordingly to whom I thought would do a better job.
At elimination Tyler said that the captain must go down with the ship, implying that the undercooked pork and cake were because of your mismanagement. Did you agree with his decision? How did you think you managed your team?
I absolutely disagree with Chef Tyler's decision. I do understand that if you nominate yourself to lead a team, you are responsible for the outcome. I followed directions exactly. I put the pork in the oven exactly the amount of time it was recommended. When I took the pork out, Chef Tyler put a thermometer in the pork, and told me it was raw and to cut it in half and stick it back in the oven to try and salvage it with the time left. In doing so, I cut my finger open and had to get it bandaged up. … I had a hand in every dish except the cake, trusting my teammates could handle it. That was out of my control. I think I did an amazing job managing my team.
What's the best piece of advice you got from Tyler during the competition?
The best advice from Chef Tyler was definitely to taste your food throughout the cooking process to ensure seasoning included a balanced mixture of salty, sweet, acidic and spice. Even though he had a problem with my cayenne pepper addiction that will not change anytime soon. I put that stuff on absolutely everything. I even throw some in my water.
Heck yeah. Since leaving the show, I've come to really enjoy cooking. I throw dinner parties a few times a month now. I went from eating takeout to rarely eating out. I'm nowhere near the same person I was coming into this competition, and I have Chef Tyler and Chef Anne to thank.