Hattiesburg hopes to be the 'best' of the 'worst'


Keeping one of the biggest secrets of her life is causing problems for Hattiesburg’s Priscilla Nguyen. She is one of the 16 contestants who will be appearing on Food Network’s “Worst Cooks in America,” starting Sunday.

Except the 10-episode season has already been taped. Nguyen knows who won, but she is sworn to secrecy.

“That’s the hardest part (not telling anyone),” she said Wednesday. “Believe me, we all have gone crazy. We can’t wait to get going and see ourselves.”

The single mother of three boys – Maison, 5; Noah, 3, and Karson, 2 – said she had a blast on the show and the other competitors.

“I would not have wanted to be with anyone else but who I was partnered with,” she said. “We are so close and we talk every single day. We are like a big family. I am just so thankful for this overall experience because I was able to take friends with me.”

It’s all because of the show, she said.

“I would have never met any of these people if we had not tried to get on the show,” she said. “I absolutely loved it. I have met some of the most amazing people through this experience.”

What cooking problems did Nguyen have that qualified her for the show?

“Oh, the basics,” she said. “You have to know what flavors go with what, and you have to know how to cook it as far as the temperature goes. I completely lost at that. I don’t know what goes with what. I don’t know what it is; the flavors are horrible and I either undercook stuff or completely burn it. I was like poisoning my kids.”

Fortunately, the boys are big fans of macaroni and cheese along with pizza.

Renowned chefs Anne Burrell and Tyler Florence are the hosts for the show, which airs in Hattiesburg at 8 p.m. Sunday. The hosts each lead a team of cooking-challenged recruits in an intense culinary boot camp designed to improve their food skills.  In the end, only the one contestant who makes the most impressive transformation wins a $25,000 grand prize and bragging rights for their team mentor.

“Kicking off the year with a new roster of Worst Cooks has become a Food Network tradition,” said Courtney White, Senior Vice President, Programming, Scripps Networks Interactive. “Watching Anne and Tyler turn these kitchen misfits into confident cooks is a fun ride from start to finish.”

Along with Nguyen, the competitors are Brandon Arroyo (Cleveland, Ohio); Steven Crowley (New York, New York); Kayrene Curtis (Rocky River, Ohio): Jonathan Farhat (Livermore, California); Lily Frey (Anaheim Hills, California); Asaf Goren (Los Angeles, California); Robyn Hayden (Charleston, South Carolina); Sylvia Jefferies (Charleston, South Carolina); Hazell Mckenzie (Brooklyn, New York); Skyler and Spencer Nick (Wauconda, Illinois); Kevin Pettice (Charlotte, North Carolina); Shatima Ruffin (Yorktown, Virginia); Sharon Shvarzman (Staten Island, New York) and Lacey Stout (Owasso, Oklahoma).