Exclusive Interview with the Winner of Worst Cooks Celebrity Edition

Get the exclusive interview with the winner of Worst Cooks in America: Celebrity Edition.

Mentor Anne Burrell and recruit Nicole Sullivan of the red team and mentor Rachael Ray and recruit Loni Love of the blue team react after Love was named the winner during the final elimination, as seen on Food Network's Worst Cooks in America, Season 9.

Photo by: Jason DeCrow ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Jason DeCrow, 2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Looking at the original nine celebrity Worst Cooks recruits, you never would have guessed the final two. But after seven weeks of tough competition, the Blue Team's Loni and the Red Team's Nicole rose to the top. And it all would come down to one last cook decided upon by a panel of experts in a blind tasting. At the end one winner would be crowned and awarded $50,000 for her charity, and her mentor would win bragging rights. Would Anne keep her record unbroken, or would Rachael clinch her first win? History could be made on this night.

Mentor Rachael Ray and recruit Loni Love of the blue team react after Love was named the winner during the final elimination, as seen on Food Network's Worst Cooks in America, Season 9.

Photo by: Jason DeCrow ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Jason DeCrow, 2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

After cooking a soul food menu that had the judges craving more, Loni sealed the fate of her team and got the first win for her mentor, Rachael. Even though she had a slip-up with her entree and forgot to top it with bacon, all her dishes shone. Rachael may have come close to a nervous breakdown many times, but it was all worth it when the three guest judges announced the winner. Loni sheds her “worst cook” title and leaves with a set of new skills to use for the rest of her life. She did it all for the American Red Cross, earning the charity $50,000.

How’re you feeling after this long finale?

Loni Love: I am on cloud nine. I just can’t believe it. I really can’t believe it. I’ve been crowned Worst Cook in America.

Actually not Worst Cook in America.
LL: Yeah, not worst cook.

Mentor Rachael Ray helps Loni Love of the blue team plan her finale menu, as seen on Food Network's Worst Cooks in America, Season 9.

Photo by: Jason DeCrow ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Jason DeCrow, 2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

How was yesterday for you going into that practice cook? When you looked at the entire menu, was there anything that you were concerned about, any dishes you felt weren’t quite there yet?

LL: The middle dish I was concerned about, because there were a lot of ingredients, and I knew that my third dish was a lot of chopping, a lot of knife cuts and a lot of cooking time, and I didn’t feel that 30 minutes would be enough for my third, so I tried to get as much as I could complete for the second. It wasn’t so much about if I couldn’t do it; it was about how much I could get done.

You forgot to put bacon on one of your dishes.

LL: The entree I put bacon in, but I didn’t have enough time to put bacon. I had spare bacon, and the plan was to put [it in] for that crunch that the judge wanted, and I didn’t have time to put the extra bacon in. So, I just went with what I had and the egg. I was just happy to get that egg without breaking the yolk.

Mentor Rachael Ray watches over Loni Love of the blue team as she cooks during the final elimination challenge, as seen on Food Network's Worst Cooks in America, Season 9.

Photo by: Jason DeCrow ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Jason DeCrow, 2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Thinking back to this morning, how was your mindset coming into the competition, knowing that it would be the last day and that you had to put it all out on the table?

LL: You know, the thing is, working with Rachael Ray, she has a lot of steps, but she’s very concise about her steps, and me being a former engineer, it’s really easy for me to understand the steps. If I can understand what you want me to do, then I usually can execute it, but there were a lot of steps. There were a lot of dishes, there were a lot of steps, there were a lot of recipes, and so I was just trying to — I came in that morning feeling … “Let me just work on the first part,” which was the 90 minutes, and try to get that done and try to get as much as I could, if I had any extra time in that 90 minutes, prepped, because I knew that from then on I wouldn’t have time that I needed.

What was the dish that you were most proud of?

LL: I’m most proud of the first dish, which is the hot chicken with sour cream and onion biscuit, because … it was my first time making biscuits by scratch. I was very proud of the biscuit, very proud of now how I can cook chicken differently and fry it and I didn’t burn my sauce — because throughout the competition I had problems with sauces and burning them off — and so it turned out good. I’m still working on slaw, I’m still working on dressing, but hey, you know, it is what it is.

Did you ever think that you’d make it this far and then go on to win the entire thing?

LL: I never thought I would make it this far. I thought I would probably be the first or second to go, because, you know, when I first got here, Chef Anne and Rachael Ray were very intense, they were serious, and I’m like, "Uh-oh, they really want us to cook." So, you couldn’t have told me I’d be … I am still in shock. I can’t believe it. I cannot believe this.

Mentor Rachael Ray gives Loni Love of the blue team a final pep talk before the final elimination challenge, as seen on Food Network's Worst Cooks in America, Season 9.

Photo by: Jason DeCrow ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Jason DeCrow, 2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

What was it about Rachael that helped you come this far? What was she like as a mentor, and what did you love most about working with her?

LL: What I love most about working with Rachael is that I learned a lot working with her, but I also learned to trust myself, not to rely on instruments so much. She says, “OK, envision in your mind what’s a tablespoon, what’s a cup,” you know if you have to count, so I’m not so reliant on instruments; it’s more so what my heart feels. Also tasting. Taste the food. I wasn’t doing that, so it’s like, how can you serve people [food if] you don’t know how it tastes? I think she was a really good mentor for me, because she let me be myself, but she also gave me tips on how to trust myself more.

After this, what’s next for you? Do you think you’ll spend more time in the kitchen, or are you going to just take a break, relax?

LL: Now I am very, very excited to get back into the kitchen. It’s been 10 years since I really sat down and [have] been in the kitchen. Everything that I do — you know, I order takeout, I’m on the road doing my standup — but now I’m excited to get back home, and actually I have all kinds of things to cook with that I haven’t been using. So, now I have another appreciation for it, so I’m going to go and I’m going to try my meal.

Mentors Rachael Ray and Anne Burrell react with recruits Nicole Sullivan of the red team and Loni Love of the blue team after the final completing the final elimination challenge, as seen on Food Network's Worst Cooks in America, Season 9.

Photo by: Jason DeCrow ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Jason DeCrow, 2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

What was the camaraderie like here, working with all these other celebs, and what was it like sharing that finale with Nicole?

LL: You know, this has been a very great experience. First of all, they picked a very talented group of celebs — very talented, very passionate. And the Blue Team, we were just the one. I mean, Mindy and John and Barbara. We really, we all helped each other, we’re still friends, we still talk to each other. And when it came to the point of being with Nicole, I was so happy to be with Nicole for the finale, because she calmed me and I calmed her, and we were both pulling for each other. We both tasted each other’s dishes the night before and we were giving comments and we believed in each other, so it really wasn’t about “It’s us against them”; it was more about “Let’s get this done. Can we get it done?” And we did.

How happy are you to win this big sum of money for your charity?

LL: I was really happy to win for my charity, American Red Cross. It’s really nice to win that money for them. You know, that organization does so much for the country, and I was just happy to be able to play, and honored and humbled that I was able to win for them.

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