The Wichita mom with a flair for colorful wigs and disastrous cooking has made it to the finale of the Food Network show “Worst Cooks in America.”
And on Sunday night, we’ll find out whether Chandali Gullick is the best of the worst cooks, a title that comes with a $25,000 grand prize. The final episode of the show’s 21st season airs starting at 8 p.m., when one of the remaining four cooks will be named the winner.
Gullick was one of 14 hopeless-in-the-kitchen contestants from around the country recruited to compete on the show, which debuted its season on Jan. 3. Each Sunday since, the recruits have been shown competing in a series of cooking challenges issued by celebrity chef hosts Carla Hall and Anne Burrell. At the end of each episode, two of those cooks were eliminated from the competition.
Gullick has had her ups and downs throughout the season, burning her spices, under cooking her sausage and failing to recognize that carrot cake cupcakes required ingredients other than just carrots. But she’s also managed to impress the judges and has learned throughout the season to cook a thick steak to a perfect medium rare, to make her own pasta and to prepare mussels.
During a phone interview from Wichita this week, Gullick said that she’s still not allowed to say what will happen on Sunday’s finale and that she still hasn’t revealed the ending to her wife, Taylor, or to her 12-year-old son, Adryan. But she said that she returned home last fall from taping the show in New York City far more confident in her kitchen abilities and in herself.
When she first arrived for the taping, she said, she never thought she’d make it to the finals.
“I think we all have self doubt, and I feel like we all deal with it differently,” she said. “I wanted to really focus not on winning but on getting better each week and just trying to make my son and family proud. I tried to only focus on what was in front of me at that time.”
But as the weeks went on and she kept surviving, Gullick said, she started to realize that “I could win this whole thing.”
Through the show, she said, she developed a strong friendship with fellow contestant JJ Hurt, a master of one-liners who is also one of the final four cooks in Sunday’s finale. She said she loved how Hurt, a two-time cancer survivor, was unapologetically himself on the show.
Gullick held her own in the humor department during her exchanges with judges and during her on-camera interviews. And one unexpected perk of her appearance on “Worst Cooks,” she said, has been an opportunity she’s been given locally.
Since the show debuted, Gullick said, she’s been contributing five days a week to KFDI’s morning show and doing a 90-second entertainment segment called “Keeping it Real” in which she discusses not only “Worst Cooks” but also general entertainment news. Her segments air at 6:15 a.m. and 8:45 a.m. Monday through Friday mornings.
The gig has turned into an internship, and Gullick, who’s being mentored by KFDI personality JJ Hayes, said she may have found a new calling.
“Hopefully, this could turn into something larger for me,” she said.