Anne Burrell talks bringing back fan favorite contestants on ‘Worst Cooks in America: Best of the Worst’

Hosts Anne Burrell and Michael Symon with contestants Domaine Javier, Eric Smart, Lulu Boykin, Jefferson Goldie, Joey Kinsley, Stephanie James, Jonathan Beyer, and Mercedes "Sadie" Manda, as seen on "Worst Cooks In America," Season 22.
Food Network

The newest season of “Worst Cooks in America” has brought back fan-favorite contestants for another shot at competing.

Entitled “Worst Cooks in America: Best of the Worst,” participants from past seasons return for another chance to transform from culinary disaster to kitchen master. The series, which premiered on April 29, is hosted by Anne Burrell and Michael Symon.

According to Burrell, the idea for the “Best of the Worst” season has been brewing for awhile, and she’s glad that some of the past contestants have a chance to prove themselves once again.

“I feel like when people come and don’t get to spend a lot of time in boot camp because of the nature of how the show goes, sometimes I don’t get enough time on hand with people who have potential,” said Burrell. “So why not invite them back to see what we can do with them?”

“Worst Cooks in America: Best of the Worst” started off with the contestants making the dish that caused them to be eliminated from their original season of “Worst Cooks in America.” Their skills are put to the test just like last time, only it will be revealed who actually maintained their skills from the past competition or who reverted back to being disasters in the kitchen.

Hosts Anne Burrell and Michael Symon, as seen on “Worst Cooks In America,” Season 22.Food Network

With Burrell leading Team Red and Symon leading Team Blue, the contestants are taking on challenges that are tougher and more outrageous than ever, including a Vegas-themed game show, a camping cookout where stoves and ovens are off-limits and a “tour de petit four” dessert relay. One recruit is awarded a $25,000 grand prize and bragging rights for their mentor.

“It’s very interesting because people leave Bootcamp and become successful home cooks, and sometimes they don’t,” said Burrell. “I went into this season cautiously optimistic. Yes, there were a lot of skills that have gotten better, but there are people who needed to be in boot camp. But we definitely made the challenges a bit harder. Having been in boot camp, we’re giving you another shot, not we’re not going to make it easy on you.”

Each season of “Worst Cooks in America” features a different cohost alongside Burrell, who enjoys watching her cohost watch the madness unfold in boot camp.

“I think that having a different cohost every time keeps things interesting, every cohost brings something exciting and different to the party. It never gets old for me seeing the reactions of the cohosts regarding what happens,” said Burrell. “On the first episode of each season, we do a baseline challenge and let the recruits cook so we can see what we’ve got to work with. It cracks me up so much to see the reaction from the cohost, it doesn’t matter who it is. Michael Symon and I have been friends for years and years. When he comes in and saw this, he said, ‘Of course this is what you do.’ He knows the caliber of nut that I am.”

Another thing that Burrell loves about doing “Worst Cooks in America” is bringing the recruits’ loved ones to the studio.

“When we get down to two people on each team left, we have their significant other or family come,” said Burrell. “Boot camp is a totally immersive process. You shut out the outside world and cooking becomes your thing. When their outside world comes into their current world, and the loved ones see the progress the recruit has made, it gets me weepy every time.”

According to Burrell, though the show can be seen as silly on the surface, at the end of the day “Worst Cooks in America” is all about redemption.

“There are so many layers to ‘Worst Cooks.’ It’s silly on the surface, people who can’t cook show up, but that’s just a jumping-off point. We have fun with games, but they are all designed for a reason and all have some teaching moments involved in there. All recruits have a fun time in boot camp — they know they’re bad, we laugh, and they laugh with us,” said Burrell. “Then you see these people, who come in as a bunch of yahoos, dig deep and turn around and use what they are truly being taught, which is amazing. They take that home to families and loved ones and they have a new life skill. At the very bare minimum, they have a better understanding and a bigger interest in cooking now so they can do that.”

Contestants Domaine Javier, Eric Smart, Lulu Boykin, Jefferson Goldie, Joey Kinsley, Stephanie James, Jonathan Beyer, and Mercedes “Sadie” Manda, as seen on “Worst Cooks In America,” Season 22.Food Network

When asked if she would like to do another season of “Best of the Worst” down the line, for Burrell the answer was obvious.

“Worst Cooks in America: Best of the Worst” airs on Food Network Sundays at 9 p.m ET, and streams on Discovery+.

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