For many, cooking is a talent, a love, a hobby.
For others, it’s a challenge.
Because Laurel native Cheyenne Loomis finds cooking to fall into the latter category, she was thrilled when asked to appear on this season of “Worst Cooks in America,” a competition show airing on The Food Network. at 9 p.m. on Wednesday.
“I can’t cook,” Loomis said. “I got food poisoning three times in a year.”
On the show, Loomis teams up with a relative who shares his inability to make edible food.
“It’s a really funny story – Angie is from California and she knew she had family in Kentucky. So she took a DNA test and all the women in her family here took a DNA test and we got learned that we were related,” Loomis said.
Loomis and Angie bonded and when Angie applied to be on the show, she was accepted. But she was told this season would be in a relationship, so she immediately reached out to her fellow “bad cook” over the team with her.
“I was so excited!” said Loomis. “It’s a great opportunity because you can learn and work with some of the greatest chefs on television.”
Although she couldn’t divulge all the details of the show, Loomis said the experience was great. A clip from the show shows Loomis chopping vegetables – with Angie commenting that apparently Loomis only uses one arm when chopping or preparing food.
Loomis makes no secret of the fact that his cooking skills are far from desirable.
“One time I was making peanut butter fudge and I put all the ingredients in at once and it looked like mud,” she said.
She attributes some of that to not fully reading the instructions or taking the time to measure ingredients correctly.
“I’m really bad at baking,” she said, telling the story of a homemade cake she had tried once before.
It was a homemade cake with two layers. For reasons unknown to Loomis, the cake only rose about an inch high.
“It was so hard that we couldn’t cut it with a knife. We had to use a knife with a saw blade,” she said. “And I chipped a tooth on it.”
Trying to hone his skills through the show opened up opportunities for Loomis, who said the whole experience was a positive learning experience.
The show begins with contestants playing games, which Loomis describes as “great fun.” Then, coaches demonstrate how to cook a dish specific to each show with contestants testing their skills to duplicate it.
“You can either replicate it or put your own spin on it,” Loomis said. “Coaches relish it and criticize it, with the worst being eliminated every week.”
While she can’t discuss the specifics of this season, Loomis said she doesn’t feel like the worst competitor competing this year, but she’s sure she’s not the best.
“It’s actually the best of the worst cooks who wins the $25,000 prize,” she said.
The show was filmed on Long Island, New York last summer and is currently airing. Loomis said it was the third episode to air and was by far his favorite.
The first show premiered on January 5 and was titled “Welcome to the Disaster Show”. This episode was the initiation show, chefs and mentors Anne Burrell and Cliff Crooks challenged contestants to cook a loved one’s favorite dish.
The January 12 episode was “Worst Cooks Warrior” and is described as follows: “Rookies find boot camp transformed into a gladiator-style arena. Chefs Anne Burrell and Cliff Crooks explain that to be a successful chef , rookies need stamina, speed, and a developed palate. For the skill exercise challenge, rookies learn how to make a falafel platter fit for a culinary titan, and in the dish challenge principal, they are tasked with making a tasty chicken adobo, Anne and Cliff judge all the dishes, and the battle is over for a rookie.
The January 19 episode was “Beach Bites” which takes contestants to a beach resort. The teams compete in a one-on-one relay race to prepare a picnic basket on the beach, and they are tasked with preparing crab cakes with sauce and salad. In the main course challenge, the chefs fire up the grill and ask the recruits to cook grilled fish dinners. Sailing is smooth for some, but the rookie with the less successful dish must sail into the sunset.
Loomis said this week’s show was his favorite episode.
Candidates come from all over the country, she said.
“We have people from the Dominican Republic, Wisconsin, Florida, New York – we even have another couple from Leitchfield, Kentucky there,” Loomis said. “The producers and everyone with the show were amazing. They worked with such a diverse group of us and we all got along great.
Loomis won’t divulge whether her cooking skills have improved since her experience on the show, but she readily admits that she likely won’t be asked to cook the main course for family meals in the near future.
“I could shoot for a side dish,” she said.
“America’s Worst Cooks” is in its 23rd season on The Food Network.