Worst Cooks in America, Season 17: Meet the Recruits

Get to know the 14 kitchen disasters competing for the chance to win $25,000.

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Photo By: Jason DeCrow

Photo By: Jason DeCrow

Photo By: Jason DeCrow

Photo By: Jason DeCrow

Photo By: Jason DeCrow

Photo By: Jason DeCrow

Photo By: Jason DeCrow

Photo By: Jason DeCrow

Photo By: Jason DeCrow

Photo By: Jason DeCrow

Photo By: Jason DeCrow

Photo By: Jason DeCrow

Photo By: Jason DeCrow

Photo By: Jason DeCrow

Idriss Allison — Bronx, NY

Idriss, a transformational coach, works to inspire people to be their best self, both in and out of the kitchen. His recent hair loss opened his eyes to the idea that a bad hairline nor terrible cooking skills truly defines a man.

Jonathan Beyer — New York

Jonathan is a professional opera singer. He’s been singing for 10 years but has significantly less experience in the kitchen. He loves to eat lots of different foods but can’t ever cook them himself.

Sharon Grant — Dallas

Sharon is a minister who dances to the beat of her own drum. She has her own stereo in her head and while she may be on rhythm there, she is far off in the kitchen. She never uses fresh ingredients at home and relies heavily on canned, boxed and frozen groceries.

Terry Grawey — Peoria, IL

Terry, a certified hypnotist, hopes he can cast a spell to trick the judges into thinking he’s the best cook in America. As of right now though, he thinks he’s an “okay” chef, but nobody else does.

Nina Kharoufeh — Cliffside Park, NJ

Being Palestinian, Nina knows that cooking is a huge staple in Arab culture and not knowing how to cook is often looked down upon. She’s never used a can opener and her mom thinks that the reason she’s still single is because she just can’t cook.

Gina Lam — San Diego

Gina is a fire cracker in real life and a hot mess in the kitchen. She knows that people tend to think Spam is gross, but she thinks canned ham is “the best type of meat.”

Kayla Longstreth — Firestone, CO

Kayla is dance teacher and professional dancer. Before the show, she’d only ever cooked bacon in the microwave. She may have skills on the dance floor, but she has two left feet in the kitchen.

Mercedes Manda — Pittsburgh

Just a 20-year-old college student, Sadie is playing with homage to her dad, who is a huge Bobby Flay fan. Her only cooking experience is with dorm room favorites like microwave mac n cheese and chicken nuggets.

Karma Ann Moody — Hayesville, NC

This bridal shop owner is clueless in the kitchen but is ready to learn all that she can. She desperately wants to learn how to cook for her 3 kids because they’ve never actually seen her cook anything edible.

Adrian Read — Bronx, NY

Adrian is a zumba instructor for senior citizens and a musician on the side. It’s all about health and fitness for him. He doesn’t know how to cook, but he can write songs about how much people hate his cooking.

Juliann Sheldon — Charlotte, NC

Juliann is a professional cheerleader and pageant winner (Miss Pennsylvania 2011) so her competitive drive stands out, as does her lack of cooking skills. She’s ready to cheer on herself and her teammates.

Peter Smerlas — Waltham, MA

Peter is a construction worker, rapper and a terrible cook. He is a father and fiancé who is pulling out all the stops to win for his family.

Laith Wallschleger — Tampa

Laith is a former professional football player here to tackle the kitchen and the competition. While he is able to do over 100 voices, accents, and impressions, his skills fall short when it comes to cooking.

Father Adam Young — Cranston, RI

Father Adam has been a priest for 9 years, but says that God seems to abandon him in the kitchen. He doesn’t know how people find cooking comforting, and in this competition, he needs all the prayers he can get.