Meet Worst Cooks Celebrity Recruit Matt Dallas, Actor and YouTube Personality
For Season 9, Worst Cooks in America has invited nine celebrities who can't cook to take on the challenges of Boot Camp. Mentors Rachael Ray and Anne Burrell have lots in store for these unsuspecting individuals. In their daily lives, these celebrities are comics, TV actors and reality stars, but when it comes to the kitchen, they're disasters waiting to happen. Tune in to the premiere on Wednesday, Sept. 14 at 9|8c to see the hilarious bumbling unfold. Every day leading up to the premiere, we'll be revealing a star contestant on FN Dish. Today it's actor Matt Dallas.
Best known as the title character on the hit series Kyle XY, Matt also has been seen on the sitcoms Baby Daddy and Entourage and the dramedy Eastwick. On the silver screen, Matt stars in the upcoming drama Alaska Is a Drag, about a drag queen who takes up boxing to survive rural Alaska, and in the indie thriller Tell Me Your Name. His most-recent project is his YouTube channel, Matt and Blue, which he produces with his husband. It follows their lives as new dads as well as taking on social exploration in our modern world. Even though he grew up around the restaurant business, Matt never got around to cooking, but he loves food and eating. Now with a family of his own, he wants to cook better meals at home. He's signed up to learn some important skills from Anne Burrell and Rachael Ray. Read on to find out more about Matt.
How would you describe your cooking style presently?
Matt Dallas : Somebody with very basic cooking skills. I can put some vegetables into a saute pan with some olive oil and garlic and pretty much call it a day. Proteins: You know, I can grill some chicken, I can grill some burgers, maybe some hot dogs, but that's pretty much where it ends for me.
What made you sign up for Worst Cooks? What do you plan to gain from this competition?
MD : Food is always something that I really loved and am passionate about. I actually grew up in a restaurant — my grandparents owned a restaurant — so as far back as I can remember I've been surrounded by food and in an environment where food has just played … a large role in my life, but I've never learned how to actually cook. My dad ran the kitchen. My mom would always cook for us growing up. So I just never had the need to learn how to cook.
And then when I moved to Los Angeles when I was 18, I remember the first time trying to make oatmeal I had to call my grandma just to be like, "Grandma, how do I do this?" … She had to walk me [through it] step by step. I remember the first time I tried to make a box of Kraft macaroni and cheese, I had to call my mom to have her walk me through that, even though I could have easily turned the box over and read the instructions. I still was so insecure on how to use any utensil or anything in the kitchen … . And then I just ate in restaurants for the rest of my life, and I've always loved restaurants and the experience, but I just never knew how to cook. So, it's always something that I've wanted to do.
It's actually always been a dream of mine to own a restaurant, but I knew that I would at some point have to tackle the back-of-the-house portion of it, and so this was an exciting opportunity for me, because it was a chance to really understand food and how everything works together … .
And also … when I think back to my childhood and growing up, my mom always had a warm home-cooked meal on the table. And there are so many dishes that now, when I look back, I remember were my mom's signature dishes, and I have such a relationship with those foods, and I want to be able to give that same experience to my kid.
Is there anything that makes you nervous about competing?
MD : Honestly, the biggest thing that makes me nervous is the fact that it is a competition. If we were just coming here and it was a Boot Camp and we could learn, I know I would kill it, but when I get under pressure, I get very overwhelmed and flustered, and so I'm worried about becoming so overwhelmed that I make some tragic mistake and then that gets me eliminated and then I'll go home without actually taking away the new skills that I could.
Besides Anne or Rachael, is there a chef or a food personality you admire?
MD : I have to be honest: I can't say that there really is anybody in particular. Actually, I don't even own cable, so I don't watch a lot of television, so as far as personalities, I don't know. I can't say.
After this competition, what cooking skill level would you like to have reached?
MD : My major goal, walking away from this show, is I want to be able to walk into my kitchen or cupboards and be able to create something without having to look at a recipe. If I get a recipe I can, for the most part, follow the directions and execute something decently well. But I want to be able to actually go in and create something myself and get creative with it and have fun and not just try and execute somebody else's work.
Is there something that has prevented you from getting into the kitchen more?
MD : I think, definitely, growing up I never needed to. There was always good food put in front of me, whether it was my mom's home cooking or it was my dad's because of the restaurant. I just never had the need to cook for myself, and then after I left home, because I just love the experience of restaurants so much, I just ate out all the time. And I think even now, since I've become a father, the main thing that's prevented me is just the fact that I don't have any skills, so I get into my kitchen and I look around and I basically give up before I even start. You know, sometimes I'll try and create something cool but it doesn't turn out, and so I just fall back into the same things that I know how to do. It's definitely just the lack of knowledge that I have, or the lack of skills that I have, that have prevented me from even attempting to learn to really get better.
What's your most-loved or most-hated kitchen tool or appliance?
MD : I have a very big aversion to a microwave. I think I've read so many bad things about microwaves, and I just know that food usually turns out rubbery and awful, so I have a huge aversion to a microwave. I don't know if there ever is any appropriate way to use one, but more-surprising things have happened. Anne could bust something out tomorrow, some amazing trick that I end up loving the microwave for.
What are some of the foods you like to eat? Do you have a guilty-pleasure food?
MD : Definitely my guilty pleasure, savory, is pizza. I could eat pizza seven days a week, all day, every day. … I love pizza and sweets. Cakes and pastries and cookies, ice cream and candy and chocolate, and the list goes on and on and on.
Is there something that we'd never catch you eating?
MD : Yellow mustard. I'm a pretty adventurous eater. I'll usually try anything that you'll put down in front of me, but I despise yellow mustard. So, I think that's probably the only thing you will not catch me eating.
What's a favorite dish you remember from your childhood?
MD : My favorite dish from my childhood is a chicken paprikash my mom used to make. It could not be more of a comfort food, because it is just heavy and you have to sleep for three hours after you eat it, but it is definitely my favorite thing, and I think just the memories that are attached to eating it are some of my favorites.
What's the first dish you learned to make? How did it turn out?
MD : The first dish that I probably made was oatmeal that my grandma walked me through, and even now I can remember it was so overly salted. I think she told me just to put in a pinch of salt, and I didn't know what a pinch was, and I remember, trying to eat it, just being like, "This is disgusting, it is so salty," and I think I had to start all over again. …
What is the weirdest thing that we'd find in your fridge if we were to open it today?
MD : I'm taking inventory, I'm looking in my fridge right now … I don't know, my fridge is pretty boring. We usually have a lot of vegetables, there's a lot of produce, there's a lot of condiments. It's pretty boring, our refrigerator. I mean, maybe pickled ginger for that one time that we … that's not even weird, though. I have a lot of jellies. We don't even eat that much jam or jelly, but for some reason we have a lot. I have some aunts that make jellies, so I end up collecting, I just have a collection of plums and apricots and berry jellies that collect in my refrigerator. That's not such a bad thing to have in your fridge, I guess.
When you get into the kitchen, what are some of the things you cook? Do you have a signature dish?
MD : I make a Brussels sprouts with bacon and shallots and a little bit of maple syrup, and I think that's the one thing I can always execute. There's a lot of things I can't always execute, but this I can make and at least I know everybody will enjoy [it].
What's the worst kitchen disaster you've had or the worst dish you've made?
MD : I've never set anything on fire, but I said I like to bake. I've had so many cakes, they always either come out overly cooked or undercooked, and I remember one time for the mother-in-law's birthday I was going to make this berry cake that I was so excited about, because her birthday's in the summer and I was going to make this super-fresh, light berry cake, and it actually looked beautiful, and everybody sang, she blew out the candles and we cut into it and the inside was just raw dough, and everybody was trying so hard to be polite. They're like, "No, Matt, it's good, it's good," and I was just so embarrassed at my cake. And everybody in the house, I’m just watching them try and be polite and choke down this liquid-y, cake-batter-y slice of cake.
What's the most-memorable meal that you've ever eaten? Tell us about the place, the people you were with and the meal you ate.
MD : I actually, very recently — I don't know if it's the most memorable, because I have a terrible memory — but very recently there is a restaurant in Phoenix called Andreoli. I've now relocated to Phoenix a couple years ago, and I've not found a lot of great restaurants, and I've eaten kind of all over the world. … Since I've been in Phoenix, I've just not really found any great restaurants, and just recently a friend had invited us to her father's Italian restaurant, and it was like full, proper Italian style. We walked in, all of the food could not have been more authentic, and it was in proper style that they just kept bringing food out, and the food was so delicious and so fresh, and I could not stop eating it. I mean, it started with pizza, and then it was one pasta, and then it was two pastas, and then suddenly it was three pastas, and then there was a burrata arugula salad, and then it was some Parmesan cheese dish. … The food just kept coming and coming, and it was so incredible that I couldn't stop myself, and I had to force myself to even eat breakfast the next day, because I was just so full. So, as of recently, that's probably one of the most-memorable experiences I've had at eating.
Which charity are you competing for? What would it mean for you to hand them a check for $50,000 if you win?
MD : I am competing for Arizona's Children Association, which is a foster and adoption agency in Arizona, and they're actually the agency that we went through to adopt our son, so for me obviously I have a very personal relationship with these guys. But for me it would be an opportunity to give back, because they've given me one of the most-amazing gifts that I've ever been given, which was my son, and I just would like to be able to give something back to them, and aside from that they do incredible work. There are over 19,000 kids just in the state of Arizona right now without anywhere to go. They have babies waking up in offices right now, because they just don't have families for them. So to be able to help make a difference for that, I think, would be huge for me.
MD : I haven't even thought about that, but I'm saying right now if I win, I'm going to go home and I am going to just prepare a feast for my family. I'm going to throw the biggest dinner party that there's ever been and just prepare a beautiful feast for, I think, all the people in my life.
Watch Matt Dallas on Worst Cooks in America: Celebrity Edition. Tune in to the premiere on Wednesday, Sept. 14 at 9|8c.