Stars from the ’90s get schooled on ‘Worst Cooks in America’

'Worst Cooks' - Burrell, Mauro hold class for '90s celebs

Jeff Mauro and Anne Burrell

“Worst Cooks in America” takes on a retro theme when it brings in a fresh batch of celebs from ’90s TV shows to learn and compete in a new season upcoming on Food Network and discovery+.

In “Worst Cooks in America Celebrity Edition: That’s So 90’s,” premiering Sunday, April 24, stars from three decades ago enter the kitchen to pick up basic cooking skills and then compete in teams, under the tutelage of mentors and team leaders Anne Burrell and Jeff Mauro.

So in the six episodes, actors Matthew Lawrence (“Boy Meets World”), Tracey Gold (“Growing Pains”), Jodie Sweetin (“Full House”), Lori Beth Denberg (“All That”), Elisa Donovan (“Clueless”), Nicholle Tom (“The Nanny”), Mark Long (“Road Rules”), Jennie Kwan (“California Dreams”) and Curtis Williams (“The Parent ‘Hood”) will go to cooking school and then try to impress judges Ilan Hall, Nilou Motamed and Ayesha Nurdjaja with meals they created with their newfound skills.

All had scant few chops in the kitchen coming in but what Mauro (“The Kitchen”) found was that many had a sophisticated palate that helped guide them.

“A lot of these celebrities are very well-traveled, world-traveled,” he says, “and have been wined and dined since they were kids, so they know good food. And it’s a good starting place just to be able to recognize the combination of flavors and what qualifies as delicious.”

But as in past seasons, there were rookie mistakes. The most common, Mauro says, ranged from poor heat control and knife management (“Very dangerous,” he says) to not seasoning, not keeping a clean work station and forgetting to taste as they go.

Among the celebs he was impressed by, Mauro says Sweetin came in with probably the most skills and had an excellent palate (“They must have fed her well on the set of ‘Full House,’ ” he says) and Lawrence exhibited the most growth.

And in the end, that’s what left the educator in Mauro heartened, was to see the celebs pick up the lessons he and Burrell were teaching and run with it.

“They’re tasting as they go and then (someone says), ‘I added a little mustard in my pan sauce because it was just missing zing,’ ” he says. “And you hear them say something like that a couple of weeks into the competition and it’s like ‘Oh, my baby! They’ve grown up!’ Just fledglings out of the nest now.”

George Dickie

George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.

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