Wednesday, December 23, 2009

“Worst Cooks In America” Interview with Chef Beau MacMillan & Monica DiNatale


As a foodie, I am always looking for the next great cooking show to help achieve my goals. I hope to master the basics and come out smelling like Mario Batali. Well move over Top Chefs and make room for “Worst Cooks in America”, premiering January 3rd at 10pm on Food Network. If “cinnamon meatloaf” and “cottage cheese mac” sounds offensive or, like something you’ve tried, this is the show for you. It’s not just a catchy title. They have searched the country for the worst cooks America has to offer. Chefs Beau MacMillan and Anne Burrell will do their best to transform the 12 worst cooks, and get them ready to serve a restaurant quality meal to top food critics. In the end the winner takes home a $25,000 prize.                                                                         

Chef Beau MacMillan is no stranger to competition. He first appeared in the hit series, “Iron Chef America”, ultimately claiming victory over Bobby Flay. His culinary career began at the age of 16 in his hometown of Plymouth, Massachusetts. Later he studied all over the country, including Vieille Maison in Florida and Hotel Bel Air in California. Together with Chef Charles Wiley, Chef Beau opened Elements restaurant in 2001, after developing the cuisine for Sanctuary, on Camelback Mountain, in Arizona.                                         

Chef Beau tells young culinarians that the true fun is in the cooking. He spoke with me about his latest challenge on “Worst Cooks”.

Is there one technique that you are hoping to teach your team in order to carry them through the competition? If I had to reduce it that much it would be focus and organization. In a nutshell, really getting them to be aware and be conscious. Cooking isn’t rocket science. If you start with great ingredients and you execute, usually you can have good results.

Chef Beau feels the most difficult things to master are reduction sauces and emulsifications. “When people get too complex in a kitchen, that’s when you see the biggest meltdowns.” But adds, “No guts, No glory! I’ll try anything!”

What part of your training helped show contestants the most with this unique type of television show? The way I was trained, these guys would have been, unfortunately, under the firing range by some of the French Chefs I worked for. But you know I learned a lot of patience and that was a key attribute. They’re [contestants] whole basis on being a cook comes down to flavor and there’s so much more involved. We put them in situations where they had to rely on their memory or they had to hone their skills on timing, multi-tasking, they had to do every day things that go into being a cook…organization and cleanliness. It was completely overwhelming.

But don’t despair; Chef Beau does believe that anyone can cook. “I’m a believer. I think you can turn people into good chefs. The key ingredient for success is desire. My real goal was to make everyone in that boot camp love cooking.”

What was the hardest technique for you to learn as you grew into a chef?  I was always good at roasting meats. It kind of took me a long time to master the sautéed station. That was one of my challenges. It was a matter of putting in my time and I knew right away that I was willing to accept that. It took me 6-7 years of getting beat up in kitchens before people were coming to me to solve issues.

How important is the knowledge of spices? Wow.  It’s another ace up a chefs sleeve. If you have a grip on spices, it’s just another weapon in your arsenal.

Most contestants had never handled knives. Some never tried shrimp. Combining several different cans of soup into one dish was a gourmet meal for one contestant. “There were a few cuts…and disasters…but I don’t want to give them away.”

“I hope people will love the show. Food Network let me be myself and do things to inspire these guys. I can’t make you a great second basemen until you love the game. You gotta swing for the fences!”

You’ll be amazed how bad some of the cooks truly started here! “Worst Cooks in America” premieres Sunday, January 3, 10pm on Food Network.

posted by funfoodwithmonica at 1:52 pm  

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