Worst Cooks in America, Episode 3: Ice Cream and Grease Fires
This show is brutal. Last week we saw Dr. Bob and Big Mike sent home, and if those two barrels of charisma can’t cut it, who can? The two of them were clearly talented: Mike could probably walk onto any indoor football team in Canada, and Bob’s background in chiropractology gifted him with hands strong enough to crack bone and precise enough to tie unbreakable rope knots. Don’t even bother trying to slip those knots; it only makes them tighter. Yet Anne and Bobby unceremoniously took back Mike and Bob’s aprons and left them with nothing. I can only imagine how nervous their former teammates are to continue.
Aadip and Mike come down the stairs of Chalet Mediocre to find an ice cream cart. Bow Tie Mike says to himself, “Oh no, now we have to go sell hot dogs in Times Square.” Yes, from an ice cream cart. Nothing says New York like one of its famous Times Square frozen hot dogs. Whenever I’m away from this city for more than a few days, I start daydreaming about marching up Broadway on a chilly February morning to get a signature “rock-hard freezer wiener.” “Can I please have extra shaved ice on that, with onion syrup? Thanks.” Sue says, “Knowing Chef Anne and Bobby, it could be a body in there.” There is literally nothing about Anne and Bobby that should make Sue think they’d stuff a dead body into this freezer. However, Sue’s Long Island accent makes her sound to me like the Long Island Medium, so maybe she’s being tipped off by the dead. “Bobby, did your grandfather have hair on the top of his head, and as he got older and his vision deteriorated he started wearing thicker glasses? He says he’s glad you are a chef, and he wants to taste your food. Here’s a handkerchief for your thick Irish tears.”
The contestants arrive at a gelato factory to learn about how to make ice cream. Alex says, “Who likes ice cream more than 99 Alex Stein? Nobody.” Stein, I get that you are very focused on creating a quotable character for reality television, and your “thing” is Texas and meat and parties and being loud. But I’m not sure “addicted to ice cream” quite fits in with your brand. “In Texas, everything is bigger. Even our banana splits!” You’re losing the thread. Anne and Bobby tell the chefs that this week is all about flavor combinations. This gelato lab has over 200 flavors for them to try. Michael gets nervous. He is very lactose intolerant. Good. Despite all the dry-heaving and the spitting out of inedible food, what this show sorely lacked was implied diarrhea.
Carla is baffled by all the choices. “The only ice cream I’m familiar with is vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry.That’s called … nipple-tano.” Don’t lie, Carla. You have heard of lots more ice cream flavors than those three, and it hurts me when you say that you haven’t. Now I feel like I can’t even trust that you love Bobby Flay. She tastes one gelato and guesses that it’s mocha. The chefs point out that it’s green. “Cucumber?” No. “Dew melon?” Also no, and also no that she called it “dew melon.” I dislike melon, and I dislike it even more when she leaves the “honey” off it. The chefs tell her it’s green tea ice cream, and she literally can’t believe it. “I don’t know what’s in my mouth.”
For their first challenge, the chefs are going to make their own flavors of ice cream and their own cones. This is the third episode, these mouth-breathers can barely pull up their pants without knocking a sound guy unconscious, and this show is trying to get them to make a frozen flavored custard. They can’t even peel vegetables correctly yet. Maybe take a step back. Bobby says, “Anybody heard of a crème anglaise before?” Of course they haven’t. Chet says, “I know they have egg whites,” and of course he’s very wrong but Bobby should not be so obnoxious about it. These people eat chili straight from the can, and now Anne is trying to teach them how to temper their custard with a splash of hot infused cream before combining the mixture into an ice cream base. I’m worried that this challenge will go too well and that everyone will tie for first.
Michael ignores the rumblings of his stomach and tries Bobby and Anne’s ice cream anyway. And then he keeps trying it. He’s going to be in trouble. Carla says to the camera, “I taste Bobby’s ice cream … ” and then she licks her lips. It is a very lovely, arousing thing. The wrinkle in this challenge is that Anne and Bobby won’t be in the room; it’ll be a blind taste test. I think they want to leave the room just to avoid whatever is now percolating inside Michael’s delicate intestines. A few contestants grab bacon from the flavor pantry. Alex is extremely impressed with himself. “Everything is better with bacon. I got this thing in the bizz-agg.” He is the ultimate bizz-agg.
All his gelato tasting has given Mike a crazy case of the milk sweats. Sue, the loving mom that she is, tries to comfort him with a cool rag. He is not doing well. I have known many lactose intolerant people, and I never knew sweating was a thing. I wasn’t buying it, so I googled “lactose intolerance milk sweats” and one of the first things that came up was a post called “I Stopped Drinking Milk and Sweating Stopped Instantly!” That seems like a chill article, nearly as chill as the domain name of the site: bye-bye-excessive-armpit-sweat.com. I bet whoever was smart enough to squat on that lucrative domain name is now sitting on a pretty penny. He probably has a whole team of people working for him just to turn down offers. “Your offer is 2 million dollars? Uh, in your dreams, Secret. Your offer is low enough for a man, but pH balanced for a GOOD-BYE.”
I feel terrible for whoever has to clean these kitchens. The contestants are all using the tiniest pots, and cream bubbles over everywhere. Most of them end up making sweet scrambled eggs. Aadip tries to make a waffle cone a half dozen times in a row, and every single time he does not put in enough batter, right until he runs out of it. He just cannot sort it out. Anne and Bobby come in to taste test, and they make lots of gross faces. Everything seems like it tastes like salty frozen milk. They throw around superlatives like “bizarre” and “awful.” Sue made the worst ice cream because she lost focus and helped out Michael. No one should ever stop to help out Bow Tie Mike. Crystal and Carla made the top two ice creams. When Bobby announces Carla as the winner, she loses her mind, and she is about ready to crawl up inside Bobby and make a home for the winter.
The main challenge this week is a bit simpler than homemade ice cream: Each contestant will invent their own burger. Bobby and Anne show their teams how to use the meat grinder. Aadip says, “It looks like a medieval torture device.” Of course. I remember that “Hagar the Horrible” strip where he got forced feet-first into the grinder until he died. Classic Saturday-morning laughs. Aadip is getting overwhelmed by how much meat he has to deal with. Anne pretends to be patient with him, and she suggests a vegetable patty, or a grilled portobello with an egg on it. He nods like he understands, but that nod is a lie. As Bobby explains his remoulade sauce, he adds cornichons. Carla, who has only ever heard of three ice creams, perks up. “Cornichons!” she says, then she points at the screen. “Little, small pickle.” Yup. You’re doing great.
Once again Anne and Bobby leave the kitchen, but this time they’ll be watching via hidden cameras. They’ve got help from Willie Degel from the television show Restaurant Stakeout. A side note: I still can’t believe that show’s not called “Restaurant Steakout.” Food Network must think it’s too good for a Men’s Wearhouse–style pun. If you haven’t seen the show, Mr. Degel hides cameras in a restaurant, then he sits with the owner in front of a wall of monitors and yells, “LOOK AT DIS GUY! YOU CAN’T DO WHAT THAT GUY’S DOING! WHAT’S GOING ON WITH DEEZ GUYS!” It’s surprisingly compelling. He brings a similar energy to this show.
Aadip is in rare form. He ignores Anne’s advice, deciding to make a cheeseburger with no burger. It’s a grilled cheese. So he puts slices of cheese, without bread, directly on the grill top and watches them immediately melt to the cast iron. It’s hilarious to watch. “Man, they melted so fast. I was trying to grill it to get a nice sear on it.” Yeah, just get a nice sear on that piece of cheese. Who doesn’t like grill marks on their cheese? I’ve only spent three hours with this show, but that’s by far the dumbest thing I’ve seen yet. Anne and Bobby are loving it up in the booth. They are not loving how Aadip licks his fingers after tasting each thing he’s cooking. If he ate with his hands in a chiller way, they might be OK, but he is straight-up polishing those digit tips.
Carla’s yelling about how she loves “horse relish.” She definitely means “horseradish,” but “horse relish” sounds like something stable boys have to clean off with a high-powered hose and a special powder. Chet is from Louisiana, which explains why he is making a muffuletta-like burger. It does not explain why he calls it a “muffulotta.” Maybe he means he’s making a lot of muffuletta? Like half the contestants, he starts an intense griddle fire. He learned he was supposed to use salt to put out the grease fire, but he puts a pinch of salt on it, like he’s seasoning a scrambled egg. The fire does not go out. Why does no one just turn their burner off? It turns out Chet has an intense fear of fire. He is literally a Frankenstein.
Time is up, and Bobby and Anne return to the kitchen. Anne has a fireman’s coat on, because there had been lots of fires she wasn’t helping to put out. They reveal they’ve been watching the cooking the whole time. I’m not sure what Willie Degel contributed. He certainly didn’t install hidden cameras. The show had pointed out security cameras in the kitchen, but why would they use those security cameras? There are literally cameras everywhere filming this. The contestants are frightened to learn they’ve been observed. Aadip says, “I just peed my pants,” then he licks his fingers for 25 seconds.
Once again, the Blue Team’s food seems better than the Red Team’s. Bobby finds Carla’s burger “satisfying.” She says to him, “I’m an old chick, but I can still … ” Still what? Bobby is as nervous as I am. Alina serves a burger with a bunch of stuff on it. She says, “I call it Cousin It, because it’s covered in lots of things.” Cousin It was covered in lots of hair, not things. Those things were hairs. “My burger is covered in a thick layer of hair. Please enjoy my hairburger.” Alex Stein’s burger has a dozen different toppings on it, and Bobby tells him it’s too busy. 99 argues about how he loves “flavor” and Bobby tells him to shut up.
Somehow, Michael pulls off a pretty decent goat burger. Sue lost focus and made a horrific gray-looking slab of wet meat. Anne won’t even touch Aadip’s grilled cheese, as it’s covered in his finger-saliva. Rasheeda thought a zucchini was a cucumber, and we’ve all been there. Crystal made a lettuce salad with a mayo-only dressing. Bold, but I’m onboard with it. A lot of times other ingredients in salad dressings ruin the main flavor I’m looking for in a light side dish, which is pure mayonnaise.
Michael wins for the Red Team — “the best of the worst” — and Chet’s “muffulotta” burger wins on the Blue Team. Though Sue overcooked the life out of her burger, Anne can’t get past Aadip ignoring the whole point of the challenge. She sends him on a loop back home. He will be missed. I think Carrie Lee tears up. On the Blue Team, Alex is on the bottom with Carrie Lee, who made a burnt but good-tasting chicken burger. With much more grace than when she fell on the floor this episode, she argues that she’s improving. Alex spitefully implies that because she’s skinny he knows food better. Bobby declares Alex Stein “unteachable” and asks for his apron back. Stein even messes that up, when he puts it on the table first. Bobby says, “You can give it to me.” Apparently 99 Alex Stein is NOT all about knowing where to put his apron. I hope he has better luck on his third reality show.