Worst Cooks in America is a show based in schadenfreude. Whereas most cooking competitions focus on accomplished chefs who can show off their skills on camera and wow viewers with expert culinary knowledge,
Worst Cooks in America on Food Network features cooks that don’t know what they’re doing. At times the show has been described as “cringey” for how bad the chefs are, but the show’s long-running success shows that there’s a sizable fan base who wants to cringe at the contestants’ horrible cooking.
What is ‘Worst Cooks in America’?
Worst Cooks in America is a cooking competition show. The eponymous worst cooks are divided into two teams to participate in “cooking boot camp,” and over the course of the show the celebrity chef hosts teach them cooking skills.
The viewers watch the cooks improve over the course of the season, and in the finale of each season the remaining cooks create a three-course meal for the judges. Cooks are eliminated in each episode, and the winner of the season receives a $25,000 prize.
Why do people like ‘Worst Cooks in America’?
Worst Cooks in America is appealing for many different reasons. Because the cooks that are chosen are so inept in the kitchen, they frequently end up in ridiculous situations that make incredibly entertaining television, like trying to cut through the pit of an avocado.
But the show also teaches the cooks culinary skills, so viewers might learn kitchen tricks they didn’t know before. The learning progress can also be inspiring to viewers, as they get to see somebody that knew nothing about cooking end up with the skills to cook a three-course meal.
Star power is another pull that Worst Cooks in America has, as many celebrity judges have appeared on the show. The first two celebrity judges were Anne Burrell and Beau MacMillan, but Food Network regulars like Bobby Flay, Alex Guarnaschelli, and Alton Brown are among the judges that have participated in this cooking competition.
Some viewers are drawn in by the desire to watch inexperienced cooks floundering in the kitchen, but others watch the show for their favorite judges. Plus, the show often features the celebrity chefs put together dishes, so the show is more than just inexperienced cooks slowly learning the ropes.
What’s wrong with ‘Worst Cooks in America’?
While some fans love how Worst Cooks in America operates, other fans have criticisms of the show’s format.
A thread in the Food Network subreddit was full of Food Network fans discussing why the show seemed to have things backwards.
At the end of each episode, the two worst cooks of the episode are sent home. But this may miss the point of the show. The focus of Worst Cooks in America is taking bad cooks and watching them improve over the course of the season. If the worst cooks are eliminated in each episode, that means it’s possible that the winners have already come in with more skills than the other cooks.
Instead of rewarding cooks for improving and learning to cook, the judges could be rewarding people who already have more cooking skills than the other competitors.
Fans in the subreddit proposed an alternate format. Instead of eliminating cooks, nobody would go home until the very end of the season. Once a season reached its finale, the judges could compare the cooks’ final meals with their initial offerings, and see who had improved the most. That way, the show would be more fair to its premise of having bad cooks learning through competition.
Despite these criticisms, Worst Cooks in America is still incredibly successful with its current format. The twentieth season ended only weeks ago, and there are no signs of the show-stopping. Even if the format is a little bit backward, fans still seem to love watching these inept cooks struggle in the Food Network kitchen.