One-on-One with the Latest Recruit Eliminated from the Red Team — Worst Cooks in America
This season on Worst Cooks in America, 14 new helpless home cooks entered the ranks to be mentored by chefs Tyler Florence and Anne Burrell. Split into the Blue and Red teams, they faced new cooking challenges every week, honing their skills until just two finalists (one from each team) remained to face off in one final cook-off. This week, the remaining four recruits were narrowed down to just two, who next week will face battling one another for the chance to walk away with $25,000 in cash, along with bragging rights for his or her mentor.
FN Dish has the exclusive interviews with the eliminated recruits from the Red Team and the Blue Team who haven't been chosen to compete in the finale, although coming ever so close.
The "whirling dervish" and "Tasmanian devil," as Anne liked to call recruit Leo, had a pretty strong six-week run, never having been in the bottom two before. Although his cooking process can only be described as haphazard, he still managed to put out dishes that weren't that bad. However, he couldn't always follow directions well, especially when it came to reading recipes, which is what befell him in this episode while making meatloaf. When it came to choosing between him and Kristen, Anne chose Kristen to represent her in the finale, as Kristen had made the most-impressive progress over the six weeks. In the end Leo was sent home.
FN Dish: What did you think when you found out you'd be remaking your meatloaf dish, your signature dish from Episode 1?
Leo: I felt lucky! I really wanted to learn how to make the “real deal” meatloaf.
Your dish ended up coming out off-balance because you mistakenly measured the meat wrong. How did that happen?
I never followed a recipe in my life, and I don’t really measure anything at home. I was too focused on following the recipe and got distracted with the scale. I have a very bad habit of not measuring anything when cooking. I got myself all sorts of measuring tools so I can practice at home, and it makes a huge difference when cooking.
You seemed upset about the way your dish came out, especially after hearing Anne's comments, but she told you to just shake it off. Do you think it affected your performance in the Main Dish challenge?
No. I had the eye of the tiger for the main dish. I was ready for the fight, mind, body and soul. I gave all I got for the Main Dish challenge.
What were you feeling when you found out your boyfriend was there to taste your cooking?
It was the very first time that I hyperventilated like that in my life. I almost fainted, no joke! I was missing him very much and couldn’t really talk to him during filming, so I felt emotional. I also felt comfortable to have him around at the same time. He is a big supporter of everything I do, my best friend and also the drummer of my band. I felt a little nervous because he is a little picky with food; [he] doesn’t like salt or eat meat. I wanted to make it right and impress him. I was anxious to know where our dog Miles was staying. I really missed my dog.
What went through your mind when Anne said you would be cooking cacciucco, a seafood soup?
Never heard about cacciucco soup before. I was hoping that we could have made a real Brazilian moqueca, which is a coconut fish stew. Cacciucco is a very complicated dish; it’s imperative that you build the flavors, little by little, lots of moving parts and components. I had to courageously jump into the unknown. I felt lost and didn’t really know what I was doing. I read the recipe over and over but [it] was still very complicated. It was a hard task, that’s for sure.
It looks like you began your cooking very confidently, but as soon as you started improvising with your measurements, things got out of hand and Anne yelled at you. Did the pressure get to you?
When you compete like that, you must be aware of the time at all times. It was just four of us, two in each team, I had to run against time and of course pressure was there for all of us.
When you didn't get the fish plated, what was going through your mind?
I was very disappointed in myself, because that fish was done perfectly and tasted fantastic. But Chef Anne’s recipe of cacciucco was so off-the-hook that Thomas and Kristen’s dad didn’t even miss the fish. It was so yummy and smelled just like heaven. Kind of indescribable!
Did you ever think you would make it this far in the competition?
Not at all. Especially because I just won one contest the whole competition. I sailed through the challenges, never was in the bottom two. I was so lucky to last this long in a cooking show. I did my very best in every challenge. I am a fierce competitor and will put [up] a good fight when needed. Had the time of my life on and off set, loved everyone in the house and also the studio crew. We were all a big, warm family. I wanted to experience this awesome opportunity to the fullest.
Is there one thing you leave the competition with, something you learned from Anne that you think will help you cook better in the future?
I knew absolutely nothing about cooking before I entered in this show. This is a true blessing for me. I learned so very much: I will never cut an onion like a wild person anymore, I enjoy building flavors, I’ve gotten to know my seasoning real well. When I cook in my house, I swear I can hear Chef Anne’s voice saying: “Brown food tastes good,” “BTB, RTS,” “low and slow,” “screaming hot,” "Salt your pasta water just like the ocean” and many more amazing things she taught me. That’s what I call didactic! What Chef Anne teaches, it sticks with you and will be there forever. Such an outstanding talent to teach and guide in a competition no less, very impressive. I always knew how much of an impact that food does make into our lives. Thank you so much, Chef Anne Burrell; I love you! I am having a blast in the kitchen, I am in love with cooking since I have been on the show, and I can’t stop cooking! I literally gained 10 pounds and I need to hit the gym immediately. I need my bikini body back; it’s almost summertime!
What will be something you'll cook when you get back home, something to impress your friends and family?
I have been making outstanding salads that people never had before! My vinaigrette is a hit in West Hollywood. And my chicken has been taken to another level. Since my mom is a very skilled cook, I hope to be writing a cookbook together talking strictly about Brazilian food. It’s hard to impress her. When I go back to Brazil, I will be making the squid-ink pasta. I can’t wait.
Do you have any words of advice for your teammate Kristen in the finale?
Kristen looks like she is an experienced cook by now. She looks like she really knows what she is doing. To stay focused and not make any mistakes. And hey, watch out for Genique — she comes through round after round with an amazing focus. Eyes on the prize, my friends; it’s $25,000 at stake! Good luck to both Kristen and Genique! It was an immense pleasure sharing the stage with every single one of the cast. Definitely an unforgettable experience I will carry for the rest of my life!