Meet Worst Cooks Celebrity Recruit Mindy Cohn, TV, Film and Stage Actress
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 actress Mindy Cohn.
Well-known as the character Natalie Green on the hit comedy The Facts of Life, Mindy has been on the small screen, stage and silver screen. On television she's appeared on 21 Jump Street, Diff’rent Strokes, Charles in Charge, Suddenly Susan and, more recently, The Help. While taking a break from acting, Mindy earned a bachelor's degree in cultural anthropology and a master's in education. Mindy received a Dramalogue Award for her stage work in Catholic School Girls, after which she returned to television. Mindy continues her long-standing work as the voice of Velma for the animated Scooby Doo franchise, for which she was nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award. She has also starred in the films Under the Gun, Alone with a Stranger and I Heart Huckabees. She most recently has been performing on stage in Celebrity Autobiography. Although Mindy used to be a better cook, she's gotten rusty over the years, and she hasn't had an opportunity to keep up what she used to know. She's signed up for Worst Cooks with the hopes of exercising her culinary muscle with Anne's or Rachael's help. Learn more about Mindy.
How would you describe your cooking style presently?
Mindy Cohn: Presently I am an assembler. I am an amazing assembler. I think I have really good food sense, but as far as cooking, almost nonexistent. I don’t think I have cooked stovetop and oven in years. It’s been a really long time — like, decades almost.
What made you sign up for Worst Cooks? What do you plan to gain from this competition?
MC: Well, the reason I did it is twofold. First, my dad, who is one of my best friends, is obsessed with the Food Network. He actually used to cook after a 12-hour work day because it was his creativity and his passion. People used to always ask me: "Your mom’s a lawyer, your dad’s a business man. How’re you an actress?" But my dad was really the artist in the kitchen, and that was his outlet. So, loving food I was born to the right household. So, I knew that it would tickle him for me to do this, No. 1; No. 2, I really used to cook a lot for my gang of friends. My house used to be the house that everyone would come and eat at, and that just stopped. Life happens. People got married, had children, moved, all that kind of stuff. So, I stopped doing it because I find cooking not to be a solitary sport. I like to do it with people. So, when that stopped happening, I stopped cooking. So, I really wanted to relearn. You know, unlike a bicycle, where you can kind of get back on, if you don’t cook, you do kind of lose the skill set, and so I am lost. So, I would like to be found.
Is there anything that makes you nervous about competing?
MC: I think what makes me nervous about competing is competing in front of someone like Chef Anne, who I am just in awe of. Just like with a great actor or a great poet or an amazing musician, I’m just absolutely gobsmacked by genius, and I think she’s a culinary genius. So, it’s the most-intimidating thing, and I think I’ve been getting in my head because of it. Yeah, so, it’s really her.
After this competition, what cooking skill level would you like to reach?
MC: I would love to be able to go into the kitchen — a room, by the way, that I love, that I’m not scared of or hate or intimidated by — and use it. I want to be in there not just to be in there because it’s usually the center of the house, but because I know what’s going on and be able to have a skill set again. I would love that.
Have there been any really good or really bad cooks in your life? Do you think that had an effect on you?
MC: You know, my mom, who doesn’t like to cook and doesn’t enjoy it, never made a bad meal either. I think to look at me is to know that I haven’t missed a meal. So, I’ve not had bad food experiences. I’m actually also really adventurous. So, I’ve had bad tastes in my mouth, which also could be taken a variety of ways, but how I mean it is that I’ve really gone off the deep end and tasted some things that I don’t ever need to have on a plate again.
Is there something that’s prevented you from getting into the kitchen more or doing more cooking?
MC: Yes, I think what’s prevented me from getting in the kitchen is again, like acting, for me it’s not a solitary sport. A lot of people enjoy being in the kitchen as their alone time. I have other hobbies to do things by myself; cooking’s not one of them. I like when a kitchen is full, and when I’m cooking with people. For instance when I’m up at the farm [in] upstate New York, and there’s always a gaggle of people there, I’m in the kitchen. Now granted, I’m assembling, but, yeah, that’s the obstacle is just being on my own. Not really fun.
What's your most-loved or most-hated kitchen tool or appliance?
MC: I want to say that I am dying to learn how to use a Cuisinart. I don’t know how to use it. I feel stupid not knowing. It’s one of the oldest and first smaller kitchen appliances you could buy, so I feel like it’s been around so long, and the fact that I don’t know how to do it kind of embarrasses me. So, it’s not hate it, I just don’t know it, and I want to get to know it.
What are some of the foods you like to eat? Do you have a guilty-pleasure food?
MC: OK, guilty-pleasure food? Yes. That’s my answer. There’s a variety. Favorites? I tend to really be eclectic in my tastes. I have phases I think like anything else like music or clothes I go through phases. Being an Angelino, I love a good plate of Mexican food. I love spicy food, so I love Thai food. I love Sriracha on almost anything as well, and a staple in my life as an Italian, but not pizza or pasta, I love good fish dishes. So, as you can see, right, pick one? Good luck.
Is there something that we’d never catch you eating?
MC: Oh, so many. I have to say, huge fan of Japanese food. I go out for sashimi three times a week; I’m not a sea urchin girl. I love the sea, and I love the taste of the sea, but I do not love that taste. Really bad for me.
If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
MC: Bread. Bread and butter. Yeah, I always thought when I was a little kid, you can send me to prison, because water and bread and I’d be fine. I’d be good. And I’m talking, I don’t want a loaf of Wonder Bread, not that there’s anything wrong with Wonder Bread, sorry sponsors, but a good bread, a brown bread with some good salted butter. Oh, I’m in heaven.
What’s a favorite dish you remember from your childhood?
MC: My mom would make this tuna casserole that would rock, still to this day, be one of the best comfort foods I could imagine having, and I think because I have memories of her making it and us sitting around the breakfast room table and eating it.
What’s the first dish you learned to make? How did it turn out?
MC: Well, the first visceral memory I have of making a meal on my own, I was 19 or 20, I had about 10 friends over, and I made cranberry chicken. Now if you were to ask me, “Can you make that again right now?” I couldn’t. Isn’t that sad? It, like, breaks my heart a little, which is kind of why I’m here. I wouldn’t even know how long to bake the chicken for. That’s how long it’s been since I’ve been in the kitchen in that aspect, but I made a cranberry chicken, whole chicken, and it turned out really well.
What is the weirdest thing that we'd find in your fridge if we were to open it today?
MC: I put Sriracha and/or capers, never together, but on almost anything. So, I always have a jar of capers, and I always have Sriracha in my fridge. So, I don’t know how odd that is, but there’s nothing really that crazy. I like a horseradish mustard I’ve got in there. I’ve got ginger ale. Nothing extraordinary.
When you get into the kitchen, what are some of the things you cook? Do you have a signature dish?
MC: Well, again, it’s kind of an assembly dish, but I make a mean avocado toast, it’s called Frog in the Hole from Australia, where you cut the center of the bread out and fry an egg in it, and then I kind of have an avocado toast-like spread, and then on top of that I put almost a bruschetta kind of tomato garlic mix, and I’m kind of known to make that and rock it, and I eat that a couple times a week.
What’s the worst kitchen disaster you’ve had or the worst dish you’ve made?
MC: My worst kitchen disaster definitely has to do around baking. I’m not a baker. I’m obviously not a precise person. So, I have made the biggest mess in every aspect. It didn’t come out good, it tasted like shit and my kitchen was a wreck. So, it was a baking experience trying to bake a homemade cake for my guy. So, that didn’t work out well at all.
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.
MC: One of the most-unforgettable meals ... again, it’s like I'm blessed to say I’ve had so many, but one of my favorite restaurants in New York is a restaurant called Marea on Central Park South, and the chef came out and made me — and it had just opened, and it was by my apartment — made me a sample. We had this seven-course dinner. So, I still, when I'm in New York, I go in there. I had one taste thrill after another and literally almost wept. Truly. Like, when he came out I stood up, I didn’t applaud because there were other people in the restaurant, but I literally got an instawell, and it felt like I had just seen Vanessa Redgrave on Broadway, Hank Aaron hit a home run, like, all in one thing. It was kind of, like, ridiculous.
Thinking of your competitors here, which of the other celebrities do you want to take down?
MC: Well, I have to say I want to beat Tommy Davidson.
Which charity are you competing for? What would it mean for you to hand them a check for $50,000 if you win?
MC: I am playing for Heifer International, which is an incredible international organization that empowers women especially, but helps families in rural communities by donating and gifting them livestock, not to eat, but to sustain themselves, and then usually create businesses for themselves within their communities; $50,000, you know, it’s amazing how little a cow costs, how little a dozen chickens can literally not only change a family’s life, but change a community and a village. And also Heifer has gotten into helping cultivate crops. For instance the work they’re doing in Guatemala now by creating vertical gardens because of the mountain ranges. Why I’m so pleased is people like Bill and Melinda Gates who really only give to medical things have made a big gift. That’s how important their work is, and so to give them $50,000 is really going to impact not only the organization but literally thousands of families all over the globe.
If you win Worst Cooks, how would you celebrate?
MC: I’m already getting very cheeky texts from my family and my extended family, we call it family of choice, who have already said they want me to cook my winning dishes as soon as I get home. So, I actually think I would celebrate by showing off a little what I’ve learned from chefs Anne and Rachael. I look forward to that.
Watch Mindy Cohn on Worst Cooks in America: Celebrity Edition. Tune in to the premiere on Wednesday, Sept. 14 at 9|8c.