Rachel Bonnetta isn't made for quarantine life.
Well, none of us are. Not really. But the quarantine, and lack of sports that comes with it, has hit the active FOX Sports personality especially hard. Before everything shut down, Bonnetta was on TV every day in some way, shape, or form, whether it was as host of Lock It In or any of the other myriad roles she plays for FOX. Now? Bonnetta is stuck with nothing to do but sit on the couch and binge, just like everyone else.
"I’m creative and I just need to do stuff. I binged The Sopranos from start to finish and I felt like a dirty, rotten person. Just sitting on the couch all day. I was like, 'You know what, I had my binging time. Now I have to make things and make use of myself,'" Bonnetta told The Big Lead.
She decided to channel her creativity through a new project called Worst Cooking Show Ever, airing on Caffeine TV weekly on Thursdays and Sundays. The idea originated when Bonnetta, bored at home one evening, decided to go live on Periscope to broadcast herself cooking dinner. This is not a common occurrence for Bonnetta, who hates cooking and only does so when her boyfriend is out of town. Then a lot of people tuned in to watch it, and she realized she enjoyed it, even if the cooking itself didn't exactly go well. She knew several other people at FOX who had teamed up with Caffeine for similar projects, so she decided to reach out and introduce herself. Now, with two shows under her belt, she calls it the perfect pairing.
"I knew somebody who had done something with Caffeine, so I basically did a cold email and said, ‘Hey, I’m Rachel, I want to do something while this quarantine stuff is happening. I’m down to play video games, literally talk into the camera, whatever you guys have in mind.’ And I did this Periscope thing. One of the producers actually said as a joke, 'Maybe you don’t like cooking but it could be a cooking show,'" Bonnetta explained. "I said, Wait, wait, wait, wait. I don’t like cooking.’ And he said, ‘Yeah, sorry, I was just giving an example.’ I said, ‘No, no, no, this could be perfect! Who has ever done a cooking show who actually hates cooking? I don’t know if that exists.' Once we had that little tidbit of an idea, we were like, yes, this is it. This is awesome."
Thus, Worst Cooking Show Ever was born. Bonnetta's first episode aired last Thursday, and her challenge was to make dinner with a protein and dessert with a budget of $5. The next episode, and the format going forward, is more complicated: her producer and her boyfriend come up with a challenging dish that she has to make, but she doesn't get a recipe to follow. They give her a picture and she has to figure out how to make it on her own in an hour. Sunday night's most recent episode featured Bonnetta attempting to reverse-engineer dish featuring roux ("I didn't even know what roux was!"). She made ... something, but after she finished her boyfriend taste-tested and may or may not have gotten sick as a result, she knows she has a long way to go.
"I was joking, tweeting before [the show]. Things like, 'Join me in 15 minutes and we’ll all get salmonella together!' He is the person that has to taste-test it at the end of the show. I’m tasting it as I go through, but he is the cook, he is the connoisseur of taste in our household. So I made him have some of it and he did not feel well afterwards. It could have been something else! But I have a bad feeling it was my cooking."
For those worried the title of the show may be disingenuous and Bonnetta is actually a better chef than your average Joe, there's no need. She once accidentally lit the kitchen in her Toronto apartment on fire after attempting to reheat soup on the stove. She threw water on the flames billowing from the pot (making the situation worse), resulting in black soot that coated the white walls. One only needs to hear Bonnetta's thoughts on cooking to understand immediately how deeply she dislikes it, even if she's having a blast on the show itself. When asked where she considers her skill level right now, she laughed and asked if there was a slot below "amateur chef."
"I don’t think I can classify myself as amateur," said Bonnetta. "It’s not that I don’t know how. I can figure it out. I just really loathe it. I don’t find any joy in cooking whatsoever. I don’t understand people that find joy in cooking. I don’t get it. I wish I did! It sounds like such a romantic thing to just be able to open up your spice cabinet and figure something out that tastes beautiful. But I’m just not into it and I never had been."
Given that, Worst Cooking Show Ever certainly lives in its own little niche of cooking shows where the host hates what she's doing. But Bonnetta is glad to find something to keep her occupied on a regular basis, and believes her displays of cooking incompetence will help the time pass while everyone rides out the coronavirus pandemic.
"We’re all doing this stuff, we’re all staying at home. Even people that love cooking are probably over it at this point. I felt like it’s a really relatable show, too," Bonnetta said. "Even the best chef can go, ‘No, I’m totally tired of cooking. Let me just go watch this woman drink too many margaritas and try to figure out what the eff a roux is.' We’re all learning together. Some people are laughing at me, some people are laughing with me."
Bonnetta has no idea what's in store for Thursday's episode, or any other episode, for that matter. She's kept entirely in the dark about what she'll try to make ahead of time to achieve maximum chaos.
"To be honest, moving forward, I’m not sure what I’m going to be doing, but the other people know. It’s kind of like going with the flow and seeing what curveballs they throw at me is just going to be an added extra challenge. It makes me really nervous," said Bonnetta. "As somebody who does a live show every single day usually, everything is so planned out. I love improv, and I do a lot of it, but this is different. It’s not something I’m comfortable improvising.
"But I think the sense is, this show is going to be bad. The food is going to suck. I’m not going to try this recipe at home [on her own], so it’s not like I’m trying to be perfect. I’m not trying to impress anyone. It’s just me cackling with whatever I’m cooking."
Tune in to Bonnetta's Caffeine TV channel on Thursday at 7 p.m. ET to see what she'll try to whip up next.