Timmy Thok’s cooking has sent his friends to the hospital with food poisoning — twice. Once, he cooked raw chicken in the microwave and fed it to his roommate. Another time, he cooked his boyfriend lasagna made with bargain-priced meat. So it came as no surprise when his boyfriend nominated him for the Food Network’s “Worst Cooks in America.”
The show, which airs its 14th season premiere at 9 p.m. Aug. 12, will pit Thok against 13 other disastrous food preppers to see who chefs Robert Irvine and Anne Burrell can whip into the best culinary shape. The winning contestant will take home $25,000 and immeasurably improved cooking skills. Thok will try his hand at everything from chicken to lobster to baked goods.
Before the show, Thok, a bartender and model, had never needed to cook. His Cambodian aunts, mother and sister prepared the hot food he ate growing up, he said. Now that he lives in Times Square, he says he eats out 99 percent of the time.
“There’s like 10,000 restaurants and bars right downstairs, so there’s almost zero reason to learn how to cook,” he said. “I don’t even know how to cook cereal.”
After the two food poisoning fiascos, Thok decided that the culinary arts were not for him.
“I’m a pretty boy bartender who models underwear, so I’m just gonna stick to that,” he said. “I’m not going to be chef-ing it up anymore.”
His mindset changed once he was recruited for “Worst Cooks in America.” Thok knew that he would appear on a cooking show, but he did not know the name of the program until he appeared on set. “I was slightly embarrassed, but amused,” he said.
Although the degree of his success remains to be seen as the season progresses, Thok said the show changed his approach to the kitchen, confirming Chef Gusteau’s “Ratatouille” adage: “Anyone can cook.”
“Now I’ve been buying spices and stuff like that. All these things I’ve never even heard of, I have in my kitchen now.”
Tune in to the Food Network to find out how far Thok makes it in the seven-episode kitchen battle.