Reality stars Jenni "Jwoww" Farley and Kendra Wilkinson have come a long way on "Worst Cooks In America: Celebrity Edition," and last night, only one could be crowned the best. From two girls who barely knew how to turn on a stove and thought pasta only came from a box, it's impressive how much they excelled in such a short period of time. With mentors and celebrity chefs Anne Burrell and Rachael Ray helping them out along the way, they're leaving this show with knowledge that will stick with them forever and the relief of no longer being considered the worst.
The finale brought a lot of stress for the girls, as it was their toughest challenge yet, but the final results were dishes that even impressed culinary experts. The three judges of the night were well-known chef and first-ever Grand Champion of "Chopped" Madison Cowan, award-winning chef and restaurant owner Jamie Bissonnette and TV personality Ross Matthews, so there was a lot of pressure. Each contestant was responsible for making a three-course meal for the final blind tasting challenge, and the judges couldn't believe the surprisingly tasty meals had come from people who were considered the worst of the bunch.
Burrell pushed Jwoww to test all her skills and produce challenging and delicious dishes while Ray pushed Wilkinson to take the easy way out because that is what she was more comfortable with. After watching their mentors prepare every dish they were going to make, it was up to Jwoww and Wilkinson to replicate what they learned and try their hardest to produce equally appealing meals. The cooking portion of the finale was stressful for not only the contestants but the mentors as well, as they were not allowed to touch or taste anything.
For the first course, Jwoww made fried oysters and gorgonzola-stuffed figs. The judges loved the oysters and even called them a "home run," but the figs didn't live up to that expectation and were a little overpowering and mushy. Wilkinson made impressive swordfish meatballs, which were a little overcooked, but it was the acidic sauce underneath them that threw the judges off. She paired the meatballs with a crostini that was a little too crunchy for the judges' liking and had way too much of the spread on top, but despite these tiny details, they still thought it was tasty. Following the first round, the judges thought it was "anyone's game."
For the second course, Jwoww cooked a difficult farro, which the judges thought was perfect, but her overcooked peas and small amounts of crab shells were the only flaws. Wilkinson again took the easier route with pasta, which Matthews and Cowan thought was a little too salty but Bissonette loved enough that he'd even consider serving it in his restaurant.
The third course was definitely the most challenging for the two stars, and this is where their nerves really started to come out. Jwoww opted for a seafood dish, and the chefs praised her for being able to cook seafood in a way that a lot of professional chefs can't even do. They thought the way everything melted in your mouth was spot-on and the only flaw was that the broth wasn't really necessary. Wilkinson went for a fried veil cutlet, which was the most challenging task of the day for her, as it's something that's very hard to get right, but it turned out perfectly crispy, and the judges praised her for her balance of flavor.
In the end, the judges had to decide if they wanted to award the person who took risks and really showed off her talent or the person who produced the most flavorful dishes, even though she took an easier route. After a lot of debating and thinking, they believed Jwoww's three-course meal was the meal that they would want to eat again, and she was awarded $50,000 for her charity of choice, which was Pick your Paw Animal Rescue.
"I am so proud of myself," Jwoww said through tears after hearing her name. "All that being yelled at by Anne was totally worth it...I just saved a few hundred dogs! I went from J not-so-wow in the kitchen to J Wow!"
Wilkinson was still awarded $5,000 for her charity, and she was happy for Jwoww and for how far she had come. "Just being able to say that Rachael Ray taught me how to cook is special," Wilkinson said. "She changed my world."
Now that Jwoww has won, she can see herself taking everything she learned and letting her family experience it. "[I'm] definitely going to be cooking," Jwoww told Food Network following her win. "I will be cooking my ass off, because I love it...That's probably the biggest thing I took away from [the competition]: that cooking can be fun and awesome and a good time."
"I definitely learned that I'm pretty good under pressure," she explained. "I'm not as bad of a cook as I thought and...it was like a once-in-a-lifetime experience to work with Rachael Ray and Chef Anne and to feel their love...I'm such big fans of them...It's just so trippy to me, and to say that I learned from them, like, people would kill to be in that position. And I was in it, and I won, and it's just - it's such an unbelievable feeling. Such an amazing feeling."