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Chef Beau MacMillan in Food Network's 'Worst Cooks'
Executive chef Beau MacMillan wouldn't normally be boasting that he surrounds himself with the worst cooks in America. That claim would hardly go over well with his staff nor the diners at his restaurant, the swanky Elements inside Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain resort in Paradise Valley.
Yet it's a brag MacMillan hopes to repeat again and again, because if he can, it means the birth of a career the gregarious, white jacketed guy has long dreamed of: television star.
When the first episode of Food Network's "Worst Cooks in America" airs Sunday, Jan. But that hopefully, with the guidance of a highly skilled professional chef instructor and a culinary boot camp, someday, they'll be braising boeuf bourguignon instead of torching toast.
The best "Jintropin (Gensci Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd.)" two students, chosen through elimination in high pressure challenges, vie in a "Anabolika Definition" final cook off for the $25,000 grand prize. And if public reception to the six pilot Anadrol Keifei episodes is strong, MacMillan stands to win a contract that would keep him busy through three seasons.
MacMillan has already proven he's got the chops to charm TV audiences. He was a contestant on "Iron Chef America" where his cuisine reigned supreme over Bobby Flay in 2006, and he appears on numerous Valley news shows. Still, nobody was more surprised than he was to learn he'd landed the "Worst Bold 200 Iforce Cooks" gig, he said.
He had interviewed with Food Network to host "The Next Iron Chef" a year and a half ago, only to lose out in the second round. So the usually exuberant, highly confident personality wasn't feeling his full game "Anadrol 50" when the Network came calling again. But he "Oxandrolone Powder India" flew to New York, and showed up as directed at a 100 year old church in the Chelsea neighborhood.
He knew something was odd when he entered the basement, to find it converted to an enormous studio kitchen. His "Next Iron Chef" audition had been merely an on camera interview. But here, a crew member pushed a list of ingredients into his hands, gave him five minutes to invent a dish, and another 20 to teach it to a staffer posing as a student.
The cameras were fired up, and the student then had to recreate MacMillan's dish exactly, with no help from the chef. But with plenty of heckling for anything she did wrong.
"They told me to be real, like I was explaining to my own cooks," MacMillan said. "At first, I was being polite to her, like, 'Um, you're not mixing that right.'"
Yet he soon realized she had been coached "to be difficult," he said, and was talking over his instructions or purposely "being an idiot." The director told him to not show restraint, and "finally, I just let her have it," he recalled. "I saw her hands shaking, and then the camera guy told me, 'Hey, you scared me, too.'"
His Gordon Ramsay impression was a good one. MacMillan had been scheduled to fly home that night, but instead the director asked him to stay for the week and shoot his first episode.
"Beau has great potential," said the Food Network's Bruce Seidel. "He is larger than life, but a big teddy bear, too. He was chosen as co host for this show because of his personality. He can be tough, but is so passionate about wanting to teach people to cook."
MacMillan, who has cooked at The James Beard House and has been at Elements since it opened in 2001 , says viewers are in for a treat with the contestants.
"These truly are the worst of the worst," he said. "I have no idea how they got such clueless people. No knife skills, but no memory or common sense, either. I didn't want to punch anyone, but I sure wanted to swear like a sailor."
"I had Anavar Zmrc to send my recipes to the network for review, and they wanted my most basic plates," he said. "Yet they sent them back to me for dumbing down three times."
Ultimately his students prepared things like crepes, crostini, and reinventions of their own signature favorites (one contestant floored everyone with a devastating peanut butter crusted codfish in cayenne pepper).
Without giving away the plot, MacMillan said the most frustrating aspect was his team's inability to listen.
"The most basic thing for a cook is to do as he's told, and to make a plate look exactly like (the model plate)," MacMillan explained. "But these zeros kept having to put their own style on it, garnishing all over the place, making the dish happy nuts, so I'd have to yell at "Achat Anabolisant Belgique" them that they failed."
Reflecting on the movie "Ratatouille," and its character chef Auguste Gusteau's book and favorite phrase that "Anyone Can Cook," MacMillan said he still thinks it true.
"My job (on the TV show) is to make you believe it, too. But you have to have the desire. If you don't really, really want to cook, don't do it. Do us all a favor and sell insurance.".