WV man joins “Worst Cooks in America”


NEW YORK CITY — Home to him is here in West Virginia, but Leo Lech has been chosen among a multitude of candidates to be a recruit and train under two of the most iconic American television food hosts in a brand-new season of Food Network’s “Worst Cooks in America.” A group of 16 recruits and two coaches will form two teams, one led by Chef Anne Burrell and the other by food genius Alton Brown, to face against each other in a challenging kitchen boot camp intended to build contestant’s food skills and whip them into culinary shape. This will be the first time Brown will be joining Burrell to deliver their expertise in food discipline, culture and skill, transforming a roster of horrible cooks.

Lech explained that recruits who were picked had to complete a 99-item questionnaire, interview, submit a video demonstrating their cooking skills for a 30-minute meal, and have friends or family critique their results. Lech is from Washington, West Virginia and spends most of his days as a professional chemist. He stated, “My daughters have seen the show and came to me saying ‘Dad you should do that.’” Lech also said he enjoys grilling but claimed to be no master of the kitchen. 

When asked about the worst dishes he’s ever cooked, Lech recalled a past Christmas dinner at his workplace. “We were told to bring a covered dish and I decided to do a pumpkin pie from the box mix. I got what was needed for the ingredients and followed the instructions. However, I must have not let it set long enough or something because at the dinner, the people from my work went to try it, came up to me and told me it was still liquidy,” Lech mentioned. 

Lech continued to discuss that his family life revolves around food and many family moments are centered at the dinner table. He explained that his parents were immigrants from Europe and pierogis (dumplings of Central and Eastern European origin) were the family food that his mother often made growing up. After the passing of former generations, Lech said, “We’ve tried to master their foods.”

Since recruited and coached under Brown, Lech said he enjoys training under him because Brown breaks down the science behind food. He can relate as a chemist, who deals with ingredients and studies the composition of matter and its properties himself. “What some may not know, is that we are actually at the studio all day and have even gone over schedule a few times,” Lech said. So far, with his time at kitchen boot camp, he’s already been very inspired to eat healthier foods and learn how to make healthy meals. “I also would like to incorporate more science-based foods and just have fun with food and science so I can share that with others and at my work,” Lech said. 

Of the competitors with a dream of putting their kitchen horrors behind them and enhancing their food skills, the one who demonstrates the most improvement to come out on top will win $25,000, and of course, the pride of earning bragging rights for their team leader. You can catch Lech and the 10-episode season battle of the “Worst Cooks in America” that premieres Sunday January 5 at 9 p.m. (all times ET/PT) on Food Network.

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