App State alumna’s poor cooking skills appear on Food Network

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Courtesy of Food Network

Amber Leverette on Food Network’s “Worst Cooks in America.” Leverette’s daughter nominated her for the show in hopes of “getting a good meal.”

Aubrey Smith, A&C Reporter

One App State alumna’s cooking skills were able to land her a premiere on one of Food Network’s most popular shows, but not because of her chef-like qualities. 

Amber Leverette is one of 14 recruits battling it out with their faulty culinary skills on “Worst Cooks in America,” Food Network’s fan-favorite show.

This season stars Chef Carla Hall, known for her work on Bravo’s “Top Chef” and ABC’s “The Chew,” battling against Chef Anne Burrell, co-host of “Worst Cooks in America,” as they split the recruits into two teams and attempt to be the one to transform their teams’ skills the most. The recruit who shows the most culinary improvement throughout the competition will receive the grand prize of $25,000. 

Leverette, a bartender from Banner Elk, graduated from App State in 2008. She went back into food service after losing her job a few years ago. 

“For the money and hours you work, it’s worth it.” Leverette said. 

While making drinks is no challenge to Leverette, cooking, on the other hand, isn’t her strong suit. After multiple ruined Thanksgiving dinners, Leverette’s 11-year-old daughter decided it was time for a change. 

“My little girl is actually the one that entered me on the show,” Leverette said. “She figured that was her last hope of getting a good meal.” 

Her daughter took control of the application process, even interviewing Leverette and asking her questions like whether she thought she was a good cook.

“In my mind, I could cook,” Leverette said. “I would just try to copy what I saw on television, it just wasn’t working for me apparently.” 

 After submitting her entry, Leverette and her daughter heard back later that same day with the good news. Leverette did a few Zoom interviews, then began filming the show shortly thereafter. 

“They didn’t ease you into it in any way,” Leverette said. “Sink or swim is the best way to put it.”

As her first television experience, Leverette said adjusting to all the cameras surrounding her and trying not to look at them was a little weird at first. However, with all the cooking challenges looming, Leverette didn’t stay focused on the cameras for long. 

“After a few minutes you get so wrapped up in everything, you don’t even notice they’re there,” Leverette said. 

“Worst Cooks in America” has been on the air since 2010 and is now on its 21st season, which premiered Jan. 3. 

“I’ve watched it for years,” Leverette said. “My kids love the show.” 

When Leverette arrived on set, she was surprised to find that nothing was staged. 

“They start the clock, and you go.” Leverette said. 

Newfound cooking knowledge won’t be the only thing she takes away from this experience. To Leverette’s surprise, many amazing friendships have come from the process.

“You’ve got 14 people from all over the United States and we all just clicked,” Leverette said. 

Leverette also said that Food Network staff and contributors took numerous precautions for everyone’s safety against COVID-19. She and the rest of the recruits had to arrive early and quarantine before filming. 

“They had taken every precaution that they could,” Leverette said. “You felt safe. You didn’t feel like you had to worry about anything.”

In the safe environment they were able to create on set, Leverette said she could focus on polishing up her cooking skills. She was able to learn how to make lots of different dishes and picked up a few new cooking skills that she could apply to anything in the kitchen. 

Leverette is recently engaged and wanted nothing more than to improve her cooking skills for her family. 

“Now I’ve got a suitor and I’d like to keep him around.” Leverette said.