Is 'Worst Cooks In America' Staged or Are The Contestants Actually That Bad?

David Triana - Author

Feb. 5 2023, Published 1:35 p.m. ET

Worst Cooks
Source: Food Network

Competition shows have become one of the most popular genres on TV, from singing competitions like American Idol and The Voice, to cooking competitions like Chopped and MasterChef.

One thing those shows have in common is that they’re all looking for the best of the best. One show, however, flipped that concept on its head when it premiered and is instead looking for the best of the worst: Enter the aptly titled Worst Cooks in America.

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The Food Network’s Worst Cooks in America is pretty self-explanatory; two professional chefs pick teams from a pool of contestants who are awful in the kitchen, putting them through various competitions and the last person standing is heralded as the best of the worst, walking away with a cash prize.

Despite the show’s lengthy history and more than 20 seasons, people are skeptical about the show’s legitimacy and wonder if Worst Cooks in America is actually staged. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering many reality shows do pump things up for the camera, so let’s dive in and see if that holds true for this Food Network juggernaut.

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Is ‘Worst Cooks In America’ staged?

Are these the 'Worst Cooks?'
Source: Food Network

In a conversation with the News Times, former contestant Michael Haydin said there was an extensive audition process. He also noted about filming Worst Cooks in America, "I had to take time off from work. All the contestants were sequestered in a house in Brooklyn. We weren't allowed any contact with the outside world — no cellphones, no internet, no TV, and definitely no cookbooks."

Meanwhile, former contestant Anna Altomari told The Orange County Register, "There was no drama in our house." This is one of the more important details to note, considering many reality TV shows thrive off of the drama between contestants in these types of competitions. So far, the Worst Cooks in America might be one of the more legitimate reality TV shows ever created.

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Are the cooks actually that bad?

A scene from the show
Source: Food Network

Yes, the cooks are actually that bad, so much so that in some cases it gives a lot of validity to the claims that the show has to be staged. But, when you hear Michael say, "I would burn grilled cheese and undercook chicken. I always told people whatever I cook either comes out pink or black," you just have to believe it.

Also, Anna shed some light on the process of verifying that these cooks are actually the worst, backing up Michael's claim that the audition process is intense.

"They have you answer questions in different ways," she said. "It was a process. It was nonstop. You fill out paperwork, fill out questions. It was an ongoing thing making sure that you are really truly who you are."

For fans of Worst Cooks in America and of reality TV in general, it’s nice to know that there are still some shows out there that do their best to make sure you get the real thing.

Be sure to check out Worst Cooks in America every Sunday at 8 p.m. EST on the Food Network.

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