Stockton native Terry Yu will be a featured contestant on the Food Network television series “Worst Cooks in America.” The show is set to premiere on Sunday at 9 p.m.
Yu, who is a pharmacist at a correctional facility, has always found the idea of cooking to be daunting and admits he has never really had a desire to learn how to cook. He mainly eats salads and rotisserie chicken, but refuses to cook for himself.
“My family used to own a deli in south Stockton called Sun Wong Kee, and my mom used to kick me out of the kitchen because I was too clumsy,” said Yu.
Before appearing on the show, there are many steps that contestant must fulfill before becoming a finalist, stated Yu. First, he had to fill out an application, attend a Skype interview with the show’s producers and provide the network with a cooking demonstration video.
“When I found out I was a finalist, I was asked to request time from work so that I could compete at their studio in New York, ” Yu said.
Before appearing on set, Yu recalled how nervous and uneasy he felt. Yu claims he did not like chopping vegetables or touching raw meat before being on the show.
“I was extremely overwhelmed and intimidated, especially when I first walked onto the set because you see these giant stoves and kitchen equipment,” Yu said.
While on the show, Yu met people from all over the United States. He forged bonds with other finalists who have become his good friends.
As a contestant, Yu was coached by celebrity chefs Anne Burrell and Tyler Florence. But before appearing on the show, he had not known who they were.
“I do not have cable, and I do not like cooking or follow that stuff on social media, so I was not sure who they were. To me they were just coaches,” said Yu. “After meeting them, it’s obvious that Anne is the queen of food, and that Tyler is a culinary gentleman.”
While on the show, Yu developed a basic repertoire of skills that he adopted into his life. But despite his newly learned skills, he still hates cooking. Since being home, he has cooked only a few times.
“My friend bought me a crockpot, and I want to throw it out,” Yu said.
After being on the show and learning how to cook and balance flavors, he still does not have a desire for cooking. But he was gracious to have had the opportunity to learn and compete with the show’s other finalists.
He also appreciated the artistic aspect associated with cooking, which taught him how to manage flavors and create colorful, eye-catching dishes.
For Yu, he enjoyed being able to represent Stockton and the Central Valley because he believes that people often have preconceived notions of the region due to its crime rate and poverty.
He believes by being on the show he has helped spotlight Stockton’s image in a new, more lighthearted way.
“I just stayed true to myself. I did not act like someone I wasn’t, but everyone on the show was very genuine and nice because this isn’t their more serious cooking shows — it’s meant to be more whimsical,” Yu said.
Although Yu was not able to disclose how far he got in the show’s competition, he does encourage people to watch it. One of the reasons is because it has a zany candidness that is perfect for the whole family to enjoy.