Q&A with Competitor Chris Soules — Worst Cooks in America: Celebrity Edition
Season 7 of Worst Cooks in America is a little bit more star-studded, as seven recruits from Tinseltown are joining the ranks of the culinarily challenged. Like in previous seasons, the recruits will be split into teams, but this time their coaches will be Anne Burrell and Rachael Ray. For one of these stars, getting through all six weeks of trying challenges will mean $50,000 for his or her charity and bragging rights for the star's mentor.
It's not every single guy's or girl's luck to appear on TV's The Bachelor or The Bachelorette, but for Chris Soules, it has been twice. With humble beginnings growing up on a farm in Iowa, Chris was unknowingly entered into the reality-romance show by his sisters. Considering his degree from Iowa State University in agronomy and agriculture, you would never have imagined this farmer would end up in Hollywood, but that's what happened. Chris also competed on the hit show Dancing with the Stars, landing in fifth place. Now back home on the farm and working in the family business, Chris is ready for the next chapter in his life.
Although Chris didn't find lasting love on TV, he's ready to learn some cooking skills so he can reel in and keep the next catch he finds. Watch the premiere of Worst Cooks in America: Celebrity Edition on Wednesday, Sept. 23 at 9|8c.
How would you describe your cooking style presently?
Chris Soules: My cooking style is kind of nonexistent at the moment. I sort of cook just to ... survive. Essentially when I cook things it's usually just for the base nutrition. ... That's mainly what I focus on. ... I'm a bachelor. I live in the middle of nowhere, and ... I try to eat healthy, so it's a lot of protein, a lot of veggies, and I don't do much of it. You know, when I'm cooking for myself, I'm a pretty easygoing guy, so it doesn't take much to just eat to get by, basically.
Have there been any really good or really bad cooks in your life?
CS: I have a lot of good cooks in my life. My sisters are great cooks. My mom's a great cook. My grandmothers were all great cooks. And that's why I'm a bad cook, I think, part of the reason, because ... I'm always able to leave the cooking up to my sisters and my mom.
What has kept you from learning to cook all this time? Do you think your family is mainly part of it?
CS: Mainly. Mainly it really has been. I mean especially, I think the fact that I live alone, you know, is a big part of it. I like to grill. I do like to grill — when I'm with family. But when I'm alone ... I'm just quick, easy, you know. I do throw things on the grill and do that, but when it's [just me], I'm not looking to impress myself. [I'm] trying to get something quick, convenient, so I can keep doing what I'm doing.
CS: I hope I learn to cook, and I really do enjoy food. I've enjoyed watching Food Network for a long time ... but I watch it and don't use any of those skills. I don't do any of the things that [the TV hosts] are doing, but I like food. So being able to learn how to really cook, and learn techniques, and then be able to implement those at home ... and make it a hobby for myself, because when you live in a small town, [there are] not a lot of options. I mean, work and being outside, those sort of things are really what you do to entertain yourself, and otherwise you have to drive an hour to two hours to go for dinner. And so being able to do that at home and share that with, hopefully, a wife someday and a family, and be able to share those things with my family currently [for] fun holidays, and when we're together, would be a lot of fun. Cooking is a really great skill and something I want to have in my ... skill set.
Besides the show's mentors, Anne and Rachael, is there a chef or a food personality whom you admire?
CS: I've always been a big fan of Guy Fieri. ... I love Diners, Drives-Ins and Dives. I love watching that, and I always mock him ... when I'm messing around a little. I do cook every once in a while, when I'm with my family; my brother and I will, like, joke around and be like, he always says, "It's outta bounds." ... He's always saying those crazy terms, and I like [that] he's entertaining. He seems like a great guy. ... Not only can he cook, but he seems like he'd be a lot of fun to hang out with.
Does anything scare you or intimidate you about being in the kitchen?
CS: I mean, the lack of knowledge that I have makes doing this cooking competition intimidating, just because I don't know where to begin. It's like, I understand what food tastes good, but I don't know how to put that together and, like, pulling different flavors and, like, I'm a meat and potatoes kind of guy. Simple, it's all I really know. Throw salt on there. Throw garlic salt on, you know, simple stuff like that. But really understanding ... all the other stuff ... is what I'm nervous about with this competition. ... My lack of knowledge ... makes me just insecure about what I'm doing.
When you do go into the kitchen, what are some of the things that you try to cook for yourself or for your family?
CS: When I go in the kitchen, I mean, it's grilling. ... I love meat. I love pork. I love beef. I love fish. ... That's usually what I gravitate toward. Everything else is kind of pretty much out of my element.
What's the worst kitchen disaster you've ever had or the worst dish you've made?
CS: I think the closest thing to a disaster is when I put a frozen pizza in the oven and fell asleep, and it continued to cook while I was sleeping, and the ... smoke alarm woke me up. That was the closest disaster that I've ever really experienced. I've lit a grill on fire as well — melted the handles off. I think I was trying to cook bacon on the grill. It didn't work out very well. Bacon grease over an open flame is not a good idea. It was one of those things I won't do again.
If you had a choice, who would do the cooking for you?
Is there something that we would never catch you eating? Something that you just hate?
CS: I don't know what it is, but growing up on a farm or what, but I've never been a very picky eater. I think the only thing I used to not eat is, like, raw onion. I still don't like raw onion very much, but now I can eat it. I used to despise it, but ... if it's in a salad I won't pick it out, because I'm too lazy, but I will avoid raw onion.
CS: I think the most-memorable meal that I had was in Chicago at ... Gelson's. It's, like, the No. 1-rated steakhouse in Chicago. We had a $147 steak. We got taken out by a friend of mine, and a bunch of people got taken out to dinner. ... It was kind of a farmer thing where ... the sales rep took us out to dinner. We got to order whatever we wanted, and it was the biggest bone-in rib eye I've ever seen in my entire life, and it was delicious. We got to go in and see where they dry age the meat, and then went out and had this amazing steak. ... I'm a corn-fed Iowa boy, and I love steak. So that was probably the most-memorable meal I've ever had.
What's a favorite dish that you remember from your childhood?
CS: Mom used to cook all kinds of stuff. She'd make me T-bone steaks, and I'd eat two T-bone steaks when I was, like, in high school. That was like, I mean every, every night coming home. ... My dad used to call me a machine because I just worked out all the time, played football ... and I could eat like a horse. ... I love my mom's green bean casserole. It's out of this world.
CS: I used to make cookies with my mom as a little kid. So I think if I had a recipe, I could still make some chocolate chip cookies.
What's your signature dish, something that you make most often for yourself or for others?
CS: I make frozen tilapia. It's really convenient. I just pull it out of the freezer — and frozen broccoli [which] comes in a bag that I can just throw in the microwave. In seven minutes you get well-cooked steamed broccoli, and it takes me about five minutes to pan-fry a tilapia. ... I mean, it's not the most-exciting thing in the world, but it's healthy and it's my closest thing to a signature dish that I have.
CS: Oh, man. I love Double Stuf Oreos. A lot. ... I can polish off an entire package of Double Stuf Oreos and milk. If you give me a gallon of milk and a package of Double Stuf Oreos, it's going to disappear.
What's the weirdest thing we'd find in your fridge?
CS: I have a very empty fridge, because I'm never home. When I am home, the weirdest thing you'll find [are] pickle jars with just pickle juice left, because I drink the pickle juice. I'll finish the pickles, and I'll drink the pickle juice as well. So a lot of people are like, "Why don't you throw the empty jar of pickles out?" I'm like, "No, the best part is still left, and that's the pickle juice."
Which of the celebrities do you want to take down?
CS: Although I love them all, I think JWoww and Jaleel are the best cooks out of the competition. Jaleel. That guy's ... a smart dude, and I think that he's going to be a tough competitor. ... I think he kind of was sandbagging coming here as a worst cook. I think he's better than he lets on.
CS: What I would like to do, I don't know if it would happen, but I'd love to fly my family out here and celebrate with my family and all the celebs, and Anne and Rachael, and go out for dinner in New York City. That would be awesome.