Get ready, America–the nation’s most atrocious amateur cooks are back to wreck havoc in the Food Network’s hit reality competition, “Worst Cooks in America.”
Chef Anne Burrell returns for her third season, hoping to whip a team of eight “recruits” from culinary novices into competent home cooks.
“I can’t tell if I’m a little masochistic or if I’m just a glutton for punishment,” Burell told FOXNews.com exclusively. “But I like to see these people do well, because I really love the teaching aspect.”
This year, Burrell faces superstar Chef Bobby Flay in the battle of who can do the best job of transforming a hopeless wannabe cook into a chef worthy of winning the $25,000 grand prize.
“The Food Network really brought out the big guns this season,” Burrell said her new nemesis, Flay. “They’re really making it hard for me! I’ve known Bobby for a while, but I’ve never cooked with him. I was nervous, I have to say. Bobby’s a great guy, and we had a lot of fun together, but I was definitely a little intimidated.”
Flay, for his part, is ready for the challenge.
“Anne may have had some early victories in past seasons, but this show is ready for a change and I’m going to bring it,” said Flay. “I’ll work my team until they can chop, filet and grill with the best of them.”
“Bobby has a delightful mix of swagger and humility,” Burrell said of her challenger. “He’s really goofy and fun, but also very serious at the same time. He’s also a really good cook!”
In the season premiere, 16 hapless chefs struggle to prepare breakfast.
“It’s kind of shocking–on the first day within the first five minutes of the first cooking challenge, Bobby just looked at me and said, ‘Are you kidding me?’” Burrell recalled. “Bobby was unprepared. I have to say that every season, I’m prepared, but I’m still shocked. In the first episode during the breakfast cookery challenge, I’m telling people, ‘Turn up your griddle! Turn it over!’ and they’re still not doing it. I was like, ‘What are you doing?!’”
Eggs proved to be particularly vexing for the contestants.
“Eggs are tricky,” admitted Burrell. “I mean, eggs are really easy, and yet they’re hard to cook. They cook really fast, but when they’re overcooked, they’re overcooked, and then it’s a lost cause. Eggs are easy to do badly, but if you understand how to do them, they’re easy. But for someone who doesn’t cook, they can be unforgiving.”
Despite the rigors of the competition, the amateur chefs make great strides during the season–both in the kitchen and personally.
“They come in knowing that they’re bad,” explained Burrell. “The point is for us not to yell at them and make them feel worse. Our point is to teach them and make them feel better. It’s really a lovely thing to see how these people transform. They really dig deep and try–and they do get better. It’s really an amazing thing. I tell them from day one–‘This will change your life.’ Whether they’re here for a long time or a little bit, it will change their life.”
And for fans of the show who could use some help with their own kitchen skills, Burrell has some advice.
“Buy a couple of good, basic cookbooks–and have fun with it,” suggests the blonde, spiky-haired chef. “Taste as you go, read your recipes before you start, make sure that you have all of your ingredients, and just relax. I always say food is like a dog–it smells fear. If you’re nervous and hunched up when you’re cooking, your food is going to react accordingly.”
“Worst Cooks in America” premieres Sunday, February 12 at 9pm ET/PT on the Food Network.