Tag Archives: Anne Burrell

Ridgewood magician competes on ‘Worst Cooks in America’

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Food Network

A Ridgewood magician is trying to make his disastrous cooking skills disappear — and he’s turned to the Food Network for help.

Michael “Six” Muldoon, 26, is a contestant on “Worst Cooks in America,” which kicked off its sixth season on Jan. 4. The show takes 14 abysmal home cooks and divides them into two teams — one led by returning Chef Anne Burrell and the second by first-time opponent Chef Tyler Florence.

The contestants go through a culinary boot camp, during which two of them are eliminated each week. Two finalists, one from each team, will face off in the finale, where they will prepare a three-course menu. The winner will receive $25,000 and bragging rights for their chef.

Just how bad are these cooks? Some admit to starting kitchen fires and even poisoning friends and family.

When the contestants are told to create their signature dish in the first episode so the chefs can choose their teams, one contestant substitutes gummy bears for goose fat, then tries to cut the candy with the wrong end of a knife. Another woman cooks a baked potato by microwaving it in a plastic bag.

But Muldoon is just as clueless.

“I try to make meals that look like one thing and taste like something else, and it just never seems to work,” the magician says as he tries to explain his spaghetti and meatball cake, which looks like a cake but tastes like spaghetti and meatballs.

Florence is not impressed.

“Surprise, it’s burnt,” he says. And Burrell ends up picking Muldoon for her team.

Muldoon’s magic skills are better left for the stage, not the kitchen.

At a young age, Muldoon coped with having a sixth finger and weight issues. His Maspeth house burned down when he was 11 and his parents separated around that time. Muldoon found magic at about age 13, which helped give him the confidence he needed. He later turned the hobby into a career.

In addition to performing, he started System 6 Magic, a company that produces playing cards and DVDs. He is also vice president of Magicians Without Borders, which travels to more than 30 countries “using magic to entertain, educate and empower.”

Muldoon, who was 25 when he appeared on “Worst Cooks,” was nominated to be a contestant by his brother for his magic-inspired food that constantly missed the mark. The two have a bet that if Muldoon learns to cook, then his brother will learn some magic tricks.

“I wasn’t cooking bad. I was cooking over the top more than anything else, ” Muldoon said.

He only heard of the show in passing before being nominated, and after watching past episodes he wasn’t sure he could take the humiliation. But he ultimately decided the challenge was worth it.

“This is one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. You are learning and you’re memorizing and there are a lot steps,” he said.

Muldoon also wanted to appear on the competition so he could learn to cook for his girlfriend. With his new skills, he says it’s nice to give her a break from making meals.

Though Muldoon says the biggest lesson he’s learned from the show is simplicity, it doesn’t mean he has given up on his magic dishes.

“It’s in the back of my head,” he said. “Knowing what I know, I wonder if I can pull off a good one now.”

To see Muldoon compete in the next episode of “Worst Cooks in America,” watch Sunday, Jan. 18, at 9 p.m. on the Food Network.


Rego Park resident competes as ‘worst’ on Food Network

| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Food Network

Richard Allen Chen’s girlfriend concludes that he is the absolute worst cook in America, gagging and cringing when forced to consume his culinary creations.

And she might be right.

Chen, an attorney and resident of Rego Park, was selected to compete on Food Network’s “Worst Cooks in America,” a program that pits 16 of the country’s most hopeless chefs against each other, overcoming gastronomic obstacles and dishing out some (hopefully) decent grub. The contestant crowned the best of the worst chefs walks away with $25,000.

“I came up with my own kind of cooking,” said Chen, whose pre-show cuisine repertoire consisted mainly of hotdogs, spaghetti, ramen and canned corn. “Stuff you can cook in less than five minutes.”

Appalled at his foul fare, Chen’s girlfriend of six years gave him an ultimatum: sharpen your kitchen skills or see you later.

“My girlfriend is from China. Apparently a lot of people from China were raised with cooking,” said Chen. “I’m from New York City and my mother wasn’t much of a cook. Her best dishes came from cans. I really never learned how to cook.”

Chen said his girlfriend refused to marry him unless he learned to cook.

“She doesn’t think I’m marriage material,” said Chen. “She was married before and she always brags about how her ex-husband used to cook all the time.”

After receiving notice that the Food Network was searching for the country’s most atrocious culinarian, Chen decided to try out. His audition meal was a casserole containing ramen, hot dogs, canned corn, raisin bread and soy sauce.

“There’s no way someone made a worse dish than mine,” said Chen.

A casting director called Chen for a phone interview, for which, of course, his girlfriend was present.

Chen snagged a spot in the show’s third season line up.

The contestants were divided into two teams: one headed by celebrity chef Anne Burrell, and the other by Food Network personality Bobby Flay. As a member of Burrell’s Red Team, Chen competed against his adversaries in a series of timed cooking challenges.

“It’s like boot camp,” said Chen. “Everything moves fast. Since I don’t have a background in cooking, I needed to pay attention to the details. It was fun to be put under the gun knowing full well I’m not an expert”

Chen claimed he was intimidated by his opponents’ perceived level of aptitude in the kitchen.

“Most of the people had more ability to cook than I,” said Chen. “They were more in tune to listening to the chefs.”

The rapid pace of the challenges heightened the difficulty of the experience for Chen, who explained that he prefers to take his time while cooking.

“I don’t like to put myself under the gun,” said Chen. “In real life you don’t put yourself under pressure. You give yourself as much time as you need.”

While Chen is proud of himself for participating in the show, he still feels he has a lot to learn.

“I think I’m still one of the worst cooks,” joked Chen. “I’m not one of the worst cooks in America, I’m one of the worst cooks in the world!”

Chen said that his knowledge of spices has elevated beyond his former standbys of salt and pepper, and he now enjoys cooking pork, spareribs and chicken. He recently prepared a baked chicken dish for his girlfriend, an endeavor that took over two hours. She was pleasantly surprised by her beau’s newfound abilities.

Chen does admit, however, that when time is scarce, he reverts back to his old, hot dog frying ways. For others struggling in the kitchen, Chen recommends that people not rush and pay close attention to spices, utensils and measurements.

“Take your time and try to understand the recipes,” said Chen. “Read it over. Make sure you have all the proper ingredients and use a timer.”

“Worst Cooks in America” premiers on Sunday, February 12 at 9p.m. on Food Network.