One-on-One with the Latest Recruit Eliminated from the Red Team — Worst Cooks in America

Host Anne Burrell addresses her team on set as seen on Food Network’s Worst Cooks in America, Season 5.

Photo by: Rich Freeda ©2013, Cooking Channel, LLC, All Rights Reserved

Rich Freeda, 2013, Cooking Channel, LLC, All Rights Reserved

On Worst Cooks in America, 14 recruits have the opportunity of a lifetime: to be mentored by two renowned chefs, Anne Burrell and Bobby Flay. They arrive at Boot Camp with some of the worst skills imaginable in the kitchen, but if they're able to last seven weeks of competition without getting cut, they get the chance to be named the best of the worst and win $25,000 in prize money. Plus their mentor gets bragging rights — and this year Anne is fighting to win her title back after losing it to Bobby last season. Unfortunately, every week two recruits, one from each team, must be eliminated.

Every Monday night, FN Dish has the exclusive interviews with the eliminated recruits from the Red Team and the Blue Team.

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Finding themselves on a farm for their next Skill Drill challenge, the remaining 12 recruits discovered they would be really learning where milk comes from. The challenge had them milking cows and making mozzarella from scratch for their grilled cheese sandwiches. Benji managed to both burn his sandwich and undercook his bacon, which Anne wasn't quite happy about. In the Main Dish challenge, which required the recruits to make a chicken breast dish, Benji struggled from the beginning. He literally butchered his chicken and confused and reversed cooking steps in his mind, resulting in a dish that Anne thought was both overcooked and undercooked. In the end Benji was sent home, as Anne thought cooking was not his strong suit at all.

What scared you the most about the make-it-from-scratch challenge? Was it the milking or the cooking and why?

Actually, the cooking. I mean, milking a cow is something I've never done before, but at the same time I felt it was something that was easy to grasp.

It seemed like you found your comfort zone making grilled cheese. But you still had some problems. Why do you think?

Going into the grilled cheese challenge I was really excited because it was something that I'm familiar with, but there were just a lot of different elements that were put into it that I wasn't used to. I think that I should have cooked the bacon a little bit longer after I burned the first batch and threw it away. I would have made sure the butter and mustard reached the edge a bit more. And I wouldn't have burned the bread.

Host Anne Burrell (l) assesses the cooking of contestant Benji Brown on set as seen on Food Network’s Worst Cooks in America, Season 5.

Photo by: Rich Freeda ©2013, Cooking Channel, LLC, All Rights Reserved

Rich Freeda, 2013, Cooking Channel, LLC, All Rights Reserved

What was the hardest thing for you about the French cooking challenge: understanding what Anne wanted or the cooking?

The cooking messed me up. Anne makes it look so easy. You kind of have this false sense of confidence after you're done seeing the demo; so coming into it your head's blown up just a little bit. You're like, "Oh, I saw it get done, and I know how it needs to be done." But as time progresses, the time crunch makes it really stressful.

What happened that got you mixed up? You put your potatoes in the sauce. What threw you off?

It kind of started from the beginning. I think I was just disheartened that I cut the chicken wrong. I bounced back a little bit, but by the time I was going to cut that onion, it was downhill from there. I don't know why I can't grasp cutting an onion, but it was something that I wasn't able to accomplish here. So when I get home I'll get a 12-pound bag of onions and I'll cut every last one. I was kind of disheartened the whole way through. I just never seemed to get anything done properly. It was kind of like kicking yourself over and over again.

Anne said that even though your time ended here that there's potential for you elsewhere. Do you think you'll be back to cooking again?

Yeah, I mean not right away. I'm almost 30 and I'm getting older and I need to be healthier. I felt like this was a good way to learn to cook and smarten up on something I don’t know anything about while broadening my horizons, saving money and becoming healthier. It's definitely something I will pick back up — it might not be tomorrow or next week. I just want to step away from cooking for a little bit because this was a lot very quickly.

What's the No. 1 thing you learned from your coach, Anne?

I learned how to hold a knife properly — the small stuff that I didn't know anything about. I peeled an apple and a potato for the first time. And I've never even used a peeler before. But what I'm taking away from that is far deeper.

What do you take away from doing the show?

Everybody that was involved in this whole process really wanted us to succeed. I think that's the thing that made me the most happy. It wasn't just a TV show. Everybody wanted us to learn, to grow, to accomplish what our goals were. I mean, the people were genuine and truly cared for what we were trying to do and were helping us every step of the way.

Who do you think on your team has the potential to make it the farthest?

I think Jamie is going to make it. He's showing the most growth and he has the drive that is going to catapult him to the end, and if not the end then very far in this competition. Jamie is like a sponge. It's very interesting watching him work because you can see from his facial reactions that he's picking up on different things. It's kind of like going into a vault and he can open the door whenever he wants to. Jamie has a lot of potential, and everyone is just now seeing the beginning of it all.

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