dog cooks

My Dog Stopped Me From Winning $25K

worst cooks in america

I love my dog: Nod in agreement if you feel the same way about your dog. I love my dog so much that he stopped me from winning $25,000 dollars. Here’s the scoop.

While the Cat Was Away

While at the Women in the Pet Industry Conference in Portland, Oregon, this past August, my wife posted the above as a Facebook status.

What ensued was a weekend of hilarity and my cooking failure and nightmare stories. While there are many things I can do, cooking is not one of them. It’s not that I am unable to cook: It’s that I create havoc and mayhem in a kitchen. My wife has joked that “do not cross” police-type tape should surround our kitchen when the mood strikes for me to cook.

Baring All

To be an effective blogger means being an honest blogger, so with no holds barred, here are a few of the treasures my wife shared on Facebook with regards to my kitchen fiascos:

Once she tried to make French toast, and thought she had to leave the bread in the batter all day!!!! I’m not kidding!  The kitchen needs to be off limits to her. I am seriously thinking of putting police tape around the kitchen

About 10 years ago, she TRIED to make lasagna. She worked on this recipe all day. Finally, she put it in the oven in a lasagna roaster with the plastic lid on top. After about 15 minutes, you guessed it, there was a terrible odor coming from the kitchen. The lid melted into the lasagna!!!! I couldn’t make this up.

Here’s another one!!!! Carol decided she was going to make beef barbecues. So, as we sat down to eat dinner, she already had the sandwiches on the plate ready to eat. Well, I took a bite, another bite, and still another bite! It didn’t taste like much. I asked her what she did when she made the barbecues. She admitted, she burned the meat and had to put it into the garbage disposal. But the sauce didn’t burn, so she made sauce barbecues!!!!! Ahhhhh, the mother of invention!!!! 

Ok, one more for good measure. About five years ago, Carol was going to make a dish that included rice. She made the entire box of rice!!! It was a very, very, very large box of rice! I’m not sure who she was feeding, but in her domestically challenged way, it was for the two of us!!!! We had lots and lots and lots of rice. I guess she realized there really was way too much cooked rice and decided to discard it into the garbage disposal! If you dispose of rice in the garbage disposal, it will continue to expand after you run water because she thought she had grounded it up. We had a clogged garbage disposal and it kept spitting rice any time we tried to grind it up! Rice was EVERYWHERE! The rice broke the garbage disposal.  HELP ME OUT HERE, I could write these stories all night!!!! She needs help!

I tried to make Welsh cookies once.

Taking it to TV

Comic relief ensued. LIKES galore and folks stepped up to have a good laugh at my expense. Returning to my hotel room after a long day of conferencing, I admit to laughing and crying comedic tears. Someone even mused, “Darlene, you should pen a book called “Stop Chef” as a play on “Top Chef.”

Admittedly, I am a reality show junkie: Some reality shows just give me the warm fuzzies: From Dancing with the Stars to The Little Couple, when we watch television, a percentage of it is devoted to reality shows.

The Food Network has a reality show within their lineup called Worst Cooks in America. I never heard of it, primarily because I do not watch a channel devoted to food, for obvious reasons.

According to IMDB, some of the worst cooks in the country compete in an elimination series. Folks audition, try out, and inform casting producers why they should be considered for the show. The last two standing have the chance to cook for culinary critics and win a cash prize. We caught up on Netflix with the past five seasons of the show.

My wife nominated me through the Internet and by answering a series of questions on a website about my culinary skills and lack thereof.

The casting producers connected with me and here’s what what down and how my dog stopped me from winning 25 grand.

dog cooks
Dexter cooks better than I do.

First Round

The Food Network Says: August 18th: Subj: Worst Cooks in America, Skype Interview Confirmation;

We are looking forward to meeting you for your Skype interview!  Please see below for more info!

My Input: The Skype interview went famously well. I love speaking on camera, feel an ease in front of a crowd, and I genuinely love interaction.

burned cake
I get distracted so cooking fiascos are a part of my fiber 😉

Second Round

The Food Network Says: Thank you for interviewing with us! Our casting directors really enjoyed getting to know you. Below you will find some info about the next step of the casting process and what info we’ll need from you.

Please send 2-3 profile style photos of you. Attached you will find detailed information about Personal and Food Photos as well as Home-Tape instructions. Please take the time to read over these instructions because they tell you EXACTLY how to do everything and we do not want to make you re-do if done incorrect. Please send us the RAW footage, you do not need to spend time editing together this home-tape, we have professionals that will do that for you. IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are chosen as a semi-finalist you will need to be available October 3-6 for casting finals and if chosen for the cast you will need to be available near or on October 20th and up to 4 to 6 weeks.

My Input: They like me, they really like me. We recorded a video and sent the pics along with an 18-page application.

carol cooking
An excerpt from my home cooking video for The Food Network.

Third Round

The Food Network Says:  They are very interested in moving me forward.

My Input: The casting crew is really interested in me. They are pulling for me and love the video and the back story.

I have questions and ask to speak to the Casting Producer.

dog cook
Dexter sez, “Uh, do I have to eat it?”

 Putting the “Real” in Reality TV

I am told chances are high that I would make it. Additionally, I am a go-getter—not cocky, just confident—so if I make it to the show, I will win. This I know. Nothing stops me when I have a goal: I have a positive attitude and if I want it, I will make it happen.

Here’s a list of what I can expect should I make it on the show:

  • No contact with the outside world the entire time I am away: No phones, calls, letters, communication, television, etc.
  • No visits or contact with family or friends.
  • Living in a private domicile somewhere in New York (Bronx, I am told) with strangers to tape the show.
  • Sleeping in a bunk bed in a small bedroom with 3-4 other cast mates for as long as I am on the show.
  • Leaving my job and hoping it will be in place upon my return.
  • Did I mention not seeing my family?

No job security, no health insurance, no family: All cons to appearing on this show.

No passion for learning to cook and doing it exceedingly well.

You know how you have to have a burning fire (pun intended) from within to actually want to be really good at something? Some folks want to be incredible cooks: I am not one of them.

Fans of cooking shows might recognize the name “Bobby Flay.”

Upon first hearing about Bobby Flay, co-host of the show, I said, “What kind of name is Bobby Filet? That is definitely a fake name for the sake of a cooking show.”

See where this is going?

Me and my modern family.

 Most People

Most people would have sprung into action for this opportunity. I mean, the PR, the media, the potential to win 25K, right?

I’ve never lived my life like most people.

The cons outweighed the pros. I had no job security if I were to be away 6 weeks. The prize is 25K and after taxes, that isn’t the biggest life-changing amount.

Most people would embrace learning this new skill and being able to apply it to their lives.

I don’t want to kill a lobster, cut the head off a chicken, nor eat rare meat: All tasks of the competition previous contestants have done.

I’m not most people. I never will be. Being different helps me stand out. Being true to who I am is my mantra.

Now What

I informed the casting producer I was unable to move forward. She was disappointed and even called me to ask me to reconsider.

The heart wants what the heart wants.

I’d do a reality show competition for sure. In fact, this is the second time I have been considered for a reality show. You can read about my first reality show experience here.

Cooking just isn’t my thing. It isn’t my passion.

Leaving my family for 4 to 6 weeks with zero contact just isn’t my thing.

Wondering how my wife and dog are doing in my absence and being heartsick over it just isn’t my thing.

Yes, I might have won. In my mind, this show was all mine: I achieve what I put my mind to and failure is not an option. My heart just wasn’t into it, and reliving it here, I feel the same way: Heart and mind have to agree or the journey isn’t worth it.  My wife is supportive of any decision I make, and together we decided this isn’t the path we are meant to walk: The one laden with cooking utensils and properly oiled pans. And we live happily ever after…going on year 22 together.


french toast nightmare
Soggy French Toast continues.

Would you ever consider a reality show? Which one(s)?





  1. Those stories are very funny and I’m sure you would have won, but I agree with you. Doesn’t seem worth it at all to me. I was just away from my dog, Bear for 11 days and it felt like forever! That’s not enough money or guarantees to make up for the cons. I think Darlene should just go ahead and crown you worst cook ever and get you a little trophy or tiara or something! 🙂

  2. Good for you Carol you know what you want and how to get there. While I’ve watched Worst Cook and believe that if you could make it past Bobby Flay and Anne can’t think of her last name you would have won the 25K but even I couldn’t be hidden away from the world for 6 weeks. It would have killed me and for you not to wake up to Dexter’s face or your wife just isn’t you.

    1. It could be up to 6 weeks and no guarantee of a lot of things on return either. And not wrong to say 😉

  3. Good for you friend!!! You have integrity. In my opinion reality shows are insulting not only to participants doing it for $ but to audiences.

  4. I don’ tknow if I could do it, either. I hate leaving my pets for even a few days. I’ve never left them for longer than 10 at any given time. I can’t even imagine 6 weeks of not even knowing how they’re doing. It’s a good opportunity, for sure, but some things are way cooler than cash and that’s spending time with those you love – you can’t buy that missed time back.

  5. I don’t care that you can’t cook, I love you anyway. You have other wonderful talents and the best is your wanting to help dogs and your great personality.❤️

  6. Away from my four legged kids for 6 weeks? Nooo thank you. Even if I could handle it, my dogs would be heartbroken. 6 weeks is long enough to convince them that they’d never see me again. (Hell, 10 minutes is apparently long enough, judging by their reaction when I walk back in the house….) I think you made the right choice, but I do hope to see you on a reality TV show someday…. Maybe one that just follows you around your own kitchen!

  7. Layla says she is gonna look for the abc to cooking to send you for Christmas BOL, I am laughing here soooooooooooo much when I think back about that Facebook conversation ha ha ha, cooking is only a part of life and thank goodness you have an incredible wife who stands by you and that is all that counts, and dont forget there is always take outs and instant frozen meals LOL.

    Everyone has a gift in life, yours is writing and other things, so as we say in Yiddish its Net Gevelech – which means its not the end of the world (hope I spelt it right)

    Hugs from us <3

  8. LMAO!! Thank You so much Dar for giving me a good laugh with the stories of Carol cooking. I have to say I don’t blame you Carol for turning it down. Away from your family for 6 weeks is awful. I could’t do it either. So glad because what would all of your fans and readers do without you! I would miss you!
    No matter how much money you would win it is not worth … No contact with the outside world the entire time I am away: No phones, calls, letters, communication, television, etc. No visits or contact with family or friends. I could sleep with strangers in the same room! Just as long as we know from Dar that you can’t cook is good enough for all us!

  9. We actually have watched Worst Cooks and would have LOVED seeing you on it. I’m with you on the decision though – no way could I be away from my guys for 6 weeks…

  10. Would have been so fun to watch you on the show and cheer for you, but 4 to 6 weeks with no family/fur baby contact?? No way! That is so crazy. I can’t believe they make the contestants go through that for 25K. So not worth it! Sounds like you totally made the right decision! (The French toast story is too funny…)

  11. never, besides they are not reality anyway, 99% of them are scripted and they only televise the parts they want. i hate reality shows and never watch them. besides how could you leave your 4 legged children? they are more important anyway. they would think you abandoned them.

  12. I never thought about being on a reality show before – being away for up to 6 weeks is a long time. I don’t think I would have done it either if there wasn’t passion involved. Call me old fashioned but good ol’ family, health insurance, and job security are damn important to me. Winning just for the sake of winning or for cash isn’t really something I’d be itching to try out. By the way I love the wifes cooking anecdotes, I think she should get working on “Stop Chef,” I know I’d read it. 🙂

  13. Sheesh! Six weeks with no contact? No way!

    However….I would have LOVED to have seen you on the show! Especially with Bobby Filet! Perhaps they should redesign the show to allow sous chefs? (Human AND canine!??? BOL!)

  14. OMG!!! Cracked me up.. I too am challenged in the kitchen..I once totally burned out the garbage disposal and clogged the sink by putting artichoke’s in the disposal.. the long strings entwined.. oh well.. but the best one was the clam/ muscle shells.. better to go out for this fare I realised. LOVE your adventures Carol & Darlene & of course DEX!! Good thing he is around to keep you two centered!! <3

  15. Write the book. It gets read by a producer who wants to turn it into a movie or TV sitcom. You sell the rights for more than $25K but make sure a percentage of the gross profits from any movie or TV show is included in your contract. It could happen…!

  16. My husband and I left Meteor and FiFiGiGi for one night and it almost killed us and the babysitter. 6 weeks? Not for $25 MILLION !

  17. As one of the people who suggested you go on the show, I’m bummed that you pulled out. However, when I made the suggestion I didn’t know about 4-6 weeks with no contact to the outside world. 4-6 weeks away from home is one thing; but no contact. Nah. I wouldn’t do it and I’m not surprised that you didn’t.
    And, no, I haven’t been on a reality show — but Solo has. He was on America’s Next Top Model.

  18. It would certainly have been fun to see you on the show! But your decision is completely understandable.

    Myself? I love to cook! Alton Brown is my favorite chef EVER, I enjoy watching his Good Eats series, Cutthroat kitchen, and more recently Food Network Stars. If I had a chance to meet him in person, or do cutthroat kitchen I totally would! But 6 weeks is really a long time to not have any contact with anyone…that seems strange to me…

    1. All this time later and I still feel comfortable in my decision – but it was so much fun. For the right show I would do it – this just wasn’t the time for me to do this. 😉

  19. how long did it take after the home video submission for them to contact you? just applied and they said it might be a few weeks… if i had a furbaby i’d be in your same shoes, sister! great post! xo

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