Ahead of Food Network’s premiere of Worst Cooks in America: Celebrity Edition on April 15 at 9 p.m. ET/PT, realscreen presents an exclusive clip of the culinary competition.
Produced by Optomen, the six-episode series follows a cast of celebrities competing in cooking challenges, taught by Food Network’s Anne Burrell and Tyler Florence. Participants vying for US$25,000 to go to a charity of their choice include Catherine Bach, Maria Bamford, Nolan Gould, La Toya Jackson, Oscar Nunez, Bronson Pinchot and Ian Ziering.
Realscreen caught up with Optomen’s president Maria Silver (pictured) to learn more about the inspiration, challenges and favorite moments of the season.
What was the original inspiration for the series?
Worst Cooks in America is based on the Optomen UK format Kitchen Criminals for BBC2. Collaborating with Food Network on the U.S. version for many seasons, it was a natural evolution to produce a celebrity version.
What challenges did you face with production?
It’s always challenging to coordinate celebrity schedules, as we all know. But really the biggest issue for us is how to fit all that great content into each episode. The old adage of “never cut funny” is really challenging on this show. With so many celebrities truly learning to cook, and having such fun with the process, we end up with some incredible moments that we just can’t fit in.
Why is the show a fit for Optomen? How do you think it exemplifies the brand?
Optomen has a rich history of talent forward food programming in the UK. Patricia Llewellyn, who built the company, famously discovered Jamie Oliver and the Two Fat Ladies, and produced Kitchen Nightmares. Worst Cooks in America helps people to become better cooks in an entertaining way.
What’s your favorite moment (or scene or episode) from the series, or what are some of the highlights of the season?
Our celebrities competed in so many fun, over-the-top challenges this season. Some favorites include a relay race to create a seafood tower, which had the celebrities “fishing” for plastic fish in a kiddie pool. Our ‘celebrity game night’ episode featured the cast playing charades, which you would think would be easy for actors and performers, however not when it came to acting out kitchen tools.
What does the series mean for Optomen?
We love making Worst Cooks as it shows we can do lighter, entertainment programming on a large scale, plus we have a huge amount of fun making it. Also it has allowed us to develop and retain an incredible producing and edit team who have really honed their comedic chops on this show – the team comes back year after year because it is such a fun show to make, and they get better every time they do it.
What did you learn during the production of this project that you think would be valuable to other professionals in the industry?
Each season’s cast brings with it a new dynamic and unique tone to the show. Therefore, it’s important to never get bogged down in the format. When you find celebrity talent that’s willing to throw themselves into the competition, have fun with it, and let their real personality (and vulnerability in the kitchen) come out, the show gets built around that and each season feels different.