One-on-One with the Winner of Worst Cooks in America
Seven weeks ago, 14 recruits entered Boot Camp as the worst cooks in America. They came to the competition to learn skills and techniques from team mentors Anne Burrell and Tyler Florence in hopes of making it to the end for a chance to win the $25,000 grand prize. Two faced off in the finale, cooking a three-course meal in order to impress a panel of culinary experts who chose the single best cook. Tonight one walks away the winner of Worst Cooks in America, taking with her not only the prize money but also a set of invaluable culinary skills. She is no longer a "worst cook."
FN Dish has the exclusive interview with the Season 6 winner.
The finale all came down to a three-course meal that would be judged by three chef-experts. Both Kristen and Genique practiced their final cook, honing skills they had learned throughout their seven weeks in Boot Camp, and presented strong dishes. But in the end only one could win, and that person is Kristen. She leaves with $25,000 in prize money and at the same time has earned bragging rights for the Red Team and its leader, Anne Burrell, who can claim this as her fourth win in the series' history. Kristen, the daughter of a restaurateur who couldn't cook if her life depended on it, now leaves a true culinarian.
FN Dish: How did you feel going into the final cook, and that you'd be going up against Genique?
Kristen: Going into the final cook I felt nervous but confident! The biggest thing I was worried about was time management, because that is something that I am not great at. I was so excited to have Genique with me in the end. We hit it off from the get-go — I always say we're like two peas in a pod. I mean, I really wanted to win, but if I didn't win I would have wanted Genique to win.
During the final cook, it looked like you got flustered at times and were flying through the motions, maybe too fast at some points. What was going through your mind at that point?
I was scared I didn't have enough time! Everything I was making was from scratch, and that takes time. I was rushing to make sure I got everything done and plated on time. Tyler had made a comment saying there was no way I was going to finish, and I was determined to prove him wrong!
How were you feeling after you finished cooking the three courses?
I felt amazing when I finished. I worked my butt off and knew I had done my absolute best! I felt so relieved, and getting to drink my favorite Texas beer with Chef Anne afterward was just the cherry on top!
What did you think when Anne said that she had picked you to win from Day 1?
I was so shocked when Chef Anne said that. I mean, I thought she absolutely hated me when she first met me, so to hear that was the best feeling on earth! I wanted her to take me seriously and believe in me; to know that she did was amazing.
What was going through your mind as the chef-experts commented on your dishes?
I just couldn't believe they were talking about food that I had cooked! On top of that, they enjoyed it; my mind was blown! One of my favorite shows is Chopped, and having Marc Murphy judging my food was just a dream. I think it's time winners of Worst Cooks compete on Chopped and see just how much we have learned.
What were you thinking when they announced you had won?
It was just so surreal! I felt like the luckiest girl on the planet! I couldn't believe my ears and just wanted to give Chef Anne the biggest hug, because I wouldn't have gotten there without her.
Did you ever think you'd make it this far in the competition and then go on to win it?
No I never thought I could make it this far and honestly I don't think any of my teammates did either, so it felt amazing to prove myself wrong! I just knew I was going to give it my all, stay confident and be myself. To leave having won was just more than I could have ever imagined, and I am so grateful to have had this opportunity!
How did Anne do when you tried to teach her a cheer?
Chef Anne did promise me on the first day if I somehow made it to the end and won she would do a cheer with me, and she kept her promise! She is a trooper. I could tell it wasn't really her thing, but she is fearless and did it like a champ!
What's the one thing you leave the competition with, something you learned from Anne that you think will help you cook better in the future?
I think I left with a lot more confidence in myself and of course my abilities in the kitchen! My boyfriend and family are super impressed with what all I have learned and can do now! Chef Anne taught me so many things. I mean I can actually make pasta and pita bread from scratch. I have fallen in love with food in a whole new way.
Well, I have absolutely fallen in love with cooking and haven't stopped since I left New York. I plan on attending culinary school at the Arts Institute of Nashville and really pursue this new passion of mine. I also want to write a Cajun/Southern cookbook with my family and invest in starting my own restaurant. Who knows — maybe you will see me on Food Network with my own cooking show!
Could you imagine yourself working in your dad's restaurant now?
I of course could see myself working with my dad, but I definitely would want to have my own business and continue my family's legacy!
Do you think the cooking instinct or gene missed you, or do you think it was just hidden deep in you and you needed this competition to bring it out?
I definitely think cooking is in my blood, and thanks to Chef Anne it was brought out! My first passion has always been writing and singing music. I left the cooking to everyone else, but now I know cooking is a part of who I am and am so thankful I got to be a part of this unforgettable experience.