Worst Cooks in America, Ep3

Cooking is About Crying and Salt.

Worst Cooks in America served up its third course last night, finally making it obvious that they have no intention to teach these contestants actual cooking methods. Rather, cooking comes down to crying and how much salt you use.

The focus of this week’s show was to be “Feelin’ the Flavor”
, skills in combining flavorings and seasonings to create a profile for your dish. Chef Ann was correct in saying this is one of the most valuable skills in the kitchen. However, in the critique of dishes, all the chefs seem to care about is how much salt is added. Even after Chef Ann admits that her, Chef Beau’s, and everyone else’s tastes are different, “too much salt”, or “not enough salt” was the only measure of flavor.

For the past two weeks, I’ve given the Food Network, (the MTV of food) the benefit of the doubt that they are actually teaching cooking methods off-camera. They’re not showing the actual instruction to give more time for the reality TV type competition.

I no longer think that. I believe there is no instruction at all. If they were taught knife skills last week, it wasn’t evident. If they were shown the first step in any cooking instruction – how to control heat – they’ve forgotten it already. If they were taught a basic sauté method that includes sprinkling water on the pan to see if it’s hot enough to start cooking, they would have had a much easier time with their grilling and side-dish sauté. If they were taught that you never add hot milk to a hot roux to create béchamel, there wouldn’t have been so much wallpaper paste sauces to criticize.
chef todd mohr can cook with his eyes closed

Learning to cook like a chef at home involves freeing yourself from recipes
by understanding the basic cooking methods behind them. Why did some items have grill-marks, and others didn’t? Water evaporates at 212f. Sugars caramelize at 320f, giving the nice brown color to a protein product. This is why the first step in sauté or stove-top grilling is to drip water onto your pan or grill and watch it evaporate. Now, you can QUANTIFY the temperature of the pan. To correctly teach cooking, a basis of “whys” and “hows” should always precede “what”.

Worst Cooks in America is the “sink or swim”
, “you should be born knowing this”, “just follow the recipe” type of cooking instruction that I despise. It continues the stereotype that cooking is very difficult, very stressful, and only professional chefs can do it. I can tell you from having taught thousands of people all over the world to cook, that it’s easy. You can do it, anyone can do it. You can do it without recipes if you know what to LOOK, SMELL, TASTE for in your pan, not in your written recipe. You don’t need to be a chef, and the only crying you should do in the kitchen is when you’re chopping onions.

Previous posts about Worst Cooks in America:
Worst Cooking Instructors in America
Are You the Worst Cook in America?

About Chef Todd

Chef Todd Mohr is a Certified Culinary Educator who has empowered home cooks all over the world with the reliable, dependable, repeatable METHODS behind cooking that build confidence, generate creativity and enable anyone to cook with the ingredients THEY desire.


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  • AN
    12:16 PM - 25 January, 2010

    Why teach the participants to cook like a chef (fancy dishes) if they can not even chop vegetables? Why not try to teach them some basic meat-potatoes-pasta dishes so that the participants can enjoy food at home... for the fancy stuff there are restaurants (or once they get good at the basic cooking they can explore fancy things on their own).... this show will do no good to anyone...

  • Isaac
    10:54 AM - 19 January, 2010

    I agree with your analogy about the worst cooks in america. Just reading this post has enlightened me about some cooking techniques especially about drizzling some water in a pan to see if the pan is hot enough. Also I agree that the only crying in a kitchen should be for chopping onions. Also I would add another reason to cry is that I ate something that gave me a stomach ache while I was cooking. When in the kitchen you should put a smile on your face and be glad that you are preparing a good meal.

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