Imagine twelve American average Joes handpicked for their notorious cooking skills, and then broken up into teams of Red and Blue- which are then each coached by a prominent chef to whip them up into cuisine shape.
For six grueling weeks each squad will then endure challenges and elimination until the last cook standing on each team will have to prepare a three-course prestigious-restaurant meal for a panel of food critics- in hopes of ultimately walking away with $25,000.
Welcome to The Food Network’s newest 2010 project -set to premiere January 3- Worst Cooks in America. And meet the head coach for Team Blue, Chef Beau MacMillan.
Seems like a pretty worry-free concept for MacMillan, no? Come in, teach a few tricks of the trade, and wish the group luck for better or for worse. Well besides the fact that those food critics assume that the three-course meal is being cooked by Chef MacMillan, and not some doofus with the inability to prepare a pop-tart.
So with reputations on the line, and facing off against Red Team Chef Anne Burell, it’s safe to say that MacMillan truly does have some coaching to do. But that won’t be a problem, he’s got some experience here n’ there under his apron.
In fact, you should check out his resume- it almost reads like a distinguished menu:
—> Sous Chef positions at La Vieille Maison in Boca Raton FL, the luxurious Hotel Bel Air in LA, and Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica.
—> Currently Executive Chef at Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain, and it’s signature restaurant Elements- which he opened in 2001 in Phoenix, AZ.
—> Personal Chef for Wayne Gretzky and family- while also dabbling with former U.S. President George W. Bush, Britney Spears, U2, Michele Richard, Jaques Pepin and Michele Roux, Sr.
—> Not to mention his invitation in 2006 to compete in Iron Chef America against Iron Chef Bobby Flay, which MacMillan was claimed victor.
—> And finally, his appearance at The James Beard House and Bon Appetit Magazine in NY.
Is it a surprise that The Food Network thus chose him to star on this show? I don’t think so.
But with a sound-off like that, you might half-expect to be speaking to some snobby elite cuisiner. Sorry to bust your bubble, but MacMillan -who’s in his late thirties- is as mellow and down-to-earth as they come, mentioning that he actually prefers his mother’s Mac n’ Cheese casserole to anything else in the world.
We got to chit-chat with the Plymouth-born chef, where he showed us that he’s a guy who’s got passion, heart, and a lot of swagger:
andPOP: It seems that you’ll almost be like a coach for these guys. Will you be using the busurk Gordon Ramsey approach, or something more laid back?
BM: It’s funny, because I don’t think I can do that, and what I’m so grateful for The Food Network is that you’re just going to see who I am in the show, and I hope it translates right to the screen. You know, the eighties are over, I’m not going to be throwing sauté pans at anybody anymore.
I do think that yes, fear is a great control element in a kitchen, but I really think that my goals here were to inspire people. I think that happy cooks make great food, and I think that if people can go in understanding that it is okay to make a mistake, I mean why are people the worst cooks in America, because they give up on themselves the minute they fail at something- they’re never going to get anywhere like that. This really allowed me to be a coach- someone hopefully who can inspire these guys.
andPOP: What is your specific style of cooking that you will be trying to impart on your team?
BM: That’s a really great question, I think I cook a lot of farm-fresh American fare with Asian acsents, so you’ll see a lot of that. But I cook popular dishes, but I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel. I just want them to try and cook with great quality, flavor and presentation.
andPOP: What do you think is the most important thing to teach a novice chef- precision, technique, commitment, quality of ingredients?
BM: That’s true, I liked everything you just said, but if they’re not committed then none of this stuff matters- and that’s what I try to teach these guys. Unless you have the desire to be a good cook, you will not become one. And then everything else is just a tool to help you achieve your goal.
You got to have good quality, you got to be willing to fail, you have to understand some cooking techniques and basics- like knife skills. All of these things will help you along the way, but literally, it’s up to you whether you want to be a good or bad cook.