For the 27th season of Food Network’s Worst Cooks In America competition series that premiered last week, Chef Anne Burrell and newcomer Chef Tiffany Derry will split the recruits into two teams, which will compete in a culinary boot camp made up of contestants with pampered and lavish lifestyles who want to learn how to cook for themselves.
Worst Cooks In America: Spoiled Rotten welcomes 16 recruits to the boot camp including Jesse Money, daughter of the late singer Eddie Money, and Ebie Wright, daughter of the late rapper Easy-E.
This season, the chefs will take book camp literally, with their teams running basic training drills like an army crawl, obstacle course and calisthenics. Other challenges involve a seafood-inspired game, a farm-themed competition, and a supermarket speedway challenge. Along the way, the most successful recruits earn “chef bucks” to buy game-changing advantages. In the end, only the most improved recruit left standing takes home the $25,000 grand prize.
“I have to say, I’ve been spoiled my entire life,” Wright, who grew up in Calabasas before the Kardashian Klan put it on the map, tells L.A. Weekly. “My father passed away when I was very young and my mom did a wonderful job of trying to make me feel like I wasn’t missing much. She overcompensated and I was spoiled in every aspect of my life and made sure I had that silver spoon in my mouth. With her cooking for me all of the time when we didn’t go to restaurants, I just never had to cook. I’m not sure if I don’t know how or am just lazy, but I never really found any joy in it. I was just so used to perfect food appearing on the table. I’m a passionate lover of food, but I’ve never really stepped into the kitchen.”
Accustomed to dining out and delivery apps, the recruits admit to never having successfully cooked a meal. To give them a firsthand look at their cooking skills or lack thereof, the chefs start by assigning them to recreate their favorite takeout dish.
“My first dish on the show was my take on bolognese and Caesar salad from BOA, which was a disaster,” says Wright. “But I learned a lot in the process. One of the biggest takeaways from the show is to just calm down. The stressful part is the time you have to do what you must. They’re yelling ‘Minutes left!’ and that gives me the most anxiety. But coming home into your own kitchen, you’re not so pressured. I learned technique and preparation, which I think are the two most important things in cooking, to prepare all the different items you need for your meal.
“Believing in yourself is also a big part of it because if you feel like you can’t cook, you won’t be able to. You need to trust your tastebuds and the food starts coming out good. In the show, a lot of us are cooking the same meals and all turn out completely different. My favorite was recreating a Carbone spicy vodka pasta. When I tasted it, I thought it was better than the restaurant version. I couldn’t believe I was tasting my own food and couldn’t wait to come home and make it for other people. My mom loves steak and that’s something that I would love to cook for her.”
Wright was born in Compton and grew up in Calabasas with her mother, Tracy Jernagin, following her father Eric Lynn Wright’s death at the age of 30 in 1995. According to Ebie, born Erin Bria Wright, Jernagin has been a realtor, music exec, Ebie’s business partner, sister, mentor and the greatest personal chef on the planet.
“When my father and his group started becoming successful, they came from Compton and represented that city so well,” says Wright. “They moved from there and were some of the first celebrities to move into Calabasas. They all bought houses in Mountain View Estates, like Dr. Dre and my father. It was kind of fun to watch the Kardashians make it global in the same way that my dad made Compton famous. I went to Taft High School in Woodland Hills, where Ice Cube also went. In the movie Straight Outta Compton when they’re bused into Woodland Hills, that’s Taft and I went to school with his kids, as well.”
While her mother was always on hand for the evening meal — cooking up everything from beef brisket with broccoli and mashed potatoes, chicken fajita pitas to filet mignon tacos — many years were spent in restaurants, where Wright developed her love for pasta.
“My absolute favorite LA restaurant is The Nice Guy. I just went last night,” says Wright. “I love the spicy shrimp scampi, the lobster pizza, the meatballs and the chocolate chip cookies. It’s the best Italian restaurant around.”
Forever on a quest of learning and exploring, Wright sees herself as a visionary like her father, who led the group N.W.A and its label Ruthless Records with albums like Straight Outta Compton and is often referred to as the Godfather of Gangsta Rap. She hopes to carry on his legacy as a risk-taker and voice for change, as well as pull off a game-day dinner for the Super Bowl. Easy-E will be honored with a Lifetime Achievement award this year at the Grammy Awards.
“He knocked down so many barriers and opened so many doors for people,” says Wright. “He had a heart of gold and I think I’ve been blessed by those same things. I want to be a giver like him. He was out to make things happen and make a change, which he did in a very short lifetime. I want to be in the position to do the same things he did. In the years he did these things, the world was different. He was so ahead of his time. He passed away before social media and the internet. He was the social media voice of the people back then in his lyrics. He was getting into video games, and films, he was going to be the first to come out with speakers. Everybody now is just catching up to what he was doing back then. I can’t imagine how massive he would be if he was still alive. So many people stemmed from the brain of my father.”
Worst Cooks In America: Spoiled Rotten Airs on Sundays, at 8 p.m.
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