Worst Cooks in America



Competition teaches amateurs to cook in watch-together fare.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Contestants are often critical of their own skills at first but are willing to work hard and gain competence.

Positive role models

The non-professionals who compete on the show are committed to improvement and doing their best. The contestants are a diverse group of different races, sizes, etc. Some have personal stories that involve eating disorders or major weight loss that is mentioned briefly. The pros can be harsh at times and teasingly competitive, but seem overall committed to helping folks become better cooks. Anne Burrell is also a great role model for girls since she's accomplished and provides a less stereotypical representation of women on TV.


Occasional kitchen fires, knife cuts, but nothing major.

Not applicable

Rarely, the supervising chefs may use curses when working with contestants, i.e. "What the hell is this?" Occasional bleeped language includes "ass." And rarely contestants seem about to say "s--t."


Restaurateurs, authors, and chefs appear as judges on the show, but all ingredients used in cooking are generic.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Alcohol is sometimes an ingredient in dishes.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this is a relatively gentle outing in the reality competition category that skips most of the trash talking and interpersonal drama of typical fare. Contenders are humble and try hard to learn the lessons imparted by supervising chefs. The chefs themselves are sometimes a bit critical ("This is awful," "You're disappointing me,") and occasionally use mild language ("hell"), but never overly harsh as on other cooking shows. This is a nice glimpse of regular people learning to cook that may inspire kids who hope to create good food for themselves, if not for professional judges.

What's the story?

On WORST COOKS IN AMERICA, 16 contestants who call themselves terrible cooks go through a two-week cooking boot camp led by professional chefs, including Iron Chef America's Anne Burrell. On each episode, chefs are drilled on an aspect of cooking, including knife skills, baking, seasoning, and the like. They are then asked to prepare dishes that display these skills. In the meantime, Burrell and the other pro chef compete against each other to produce the most improved cooks. One by one, contestants are eliminated, until the two best of the worst cooks prepare a three-course meal for professional judges. The cook who makes the best meal wins $25,000, and the chef who instructed him or her gets bragging rights.

Is it any good?


Watching nonprofessionals get better at something difficult is both inspirational and interesting, and makes up for the distress of hearing the contenders run themselves down when they start the competition. The supervising chefs can get a little bit cranky with contestants, rushing them in the kitchen, or condemning the dishes they have made. Still, this may prove fun for parents who like to cook to watch with kids who need a little coaxing to try their hand in the kitchen.

Overall, the excitement delivered by both the mishaps (lots of kitchen fires and spills!) and the victories make this fun family fare. Kids will root for their favorite personalities and might even learn something in the process.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about whether cooking is an important skill. Do you really need to know how to cook to feed yourself? What are the benefits of meals cooked and eaten at home?

  • Do you think the judges pick contestants solely on their cooking skills? Or do the most colorful and interesting contestants tend to stick around?

  • Does it bother you that the cooks, particularly on the first shows of the season, tend to downplay their skills? Do you feel sorry for them? Do you think their view of themselves as a "bad cook" keeps them from learning how to cook?

TV details

Cast:Anne Burrell, Bobby Flay, Robert Irvine
Network:Food Network
Genre:Reality TV
Topics:Great girl role models
TV rating:TV-G
Available on:Streaming

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 8 years old June 21, 2012

Finally, A Good Cooking Show With Amateurs! :D

sends a good messages to kids to try with effort
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Parent of a 5, 11, 14, 16, and 17 year old Written byMusicMakesMySoulRock March 15, 2012

love it!

i love this show!! you know why i like it? well there is two reasons. one: i like her hair. two: i am a really, really terrible cook. my husband does all the cooking. :)
What other families should know
Too much swearing


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