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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Sami White rules as king on Worst Cooks
by Jerry Nunn
2023-08-05

This article shared 13611 times since Sat Aug 5, 2023
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Sami White is taking a whisk by competing on season 26 of Food Network's Worst Cooks in America and hopefully, it all pays off. She goes out of the frying pan and into the fire while navigating the new theme of Love at First Bite and the challenges that surround it.

Chef Anne Burrell and Sandwich King Jeff Mauro give sage advice as mentors for the recruits in a culinary boot camp to help improve their kitchen skills. The winner is eventually awarded $25,000 and bragging rights over those that didn't make the cut.

White is the second lesbian contestant from Chicago competing for one of the Worst Cooks titles, after Georgann Coleman was previously reported on by Windy City Times in 2010. [https://www.windycitytimes.com/lgbt/Georgann-Coleman-makes-mark-on-Worst-Cooks/29894.html]

Cooking isn't her only struggle as she balances a healthcare job by day and a drag king career as Yur Unkle at night. She sat down for coffee to talk about her various challenges before the premiere episode aired.

Windy City Times: Hi, Sami. Where are you from originally?

Sami White: I am from Indiana. I eventually moved to Ypsilanti, Michigan to go to school at Eastern Michigan University, go Eagles! It was just outside of Detroit and had such a great art scene, which was the best part of my college experience.

WCT: You currently work in healthcare?

SW: I worked as a pie maker but it closed down during the pandemic, so I got a job in healthcare and I am really enjoying the benefits.

WCT: Tell me about being a drag king.

SW: I moved to Chicago to do comedy at The Second City. I needed to do something creative away from my day job. I have always loved drag and grew up watching RuPaul's Drag Race. I thought it would be fun to create a character that would not usually be part of the drag scene.

Yur Unkle is a redneck, dirtbag drag king. Others might be performing Beyonce, but I am all about Kenny Chesney instead! It is so funny because I do comedy along with drag. There's always a gag and I even learned how to do the splits!

WCT: I am from the South and don't know any rednecks who do the splits.

SW: Let me tell you, it's a good combo…

WCT: Are you part of Tenderoni's drag king network?

SW: Yes. Tenderoni is the reason I started performing. I saw him in drag and realized I could do it too. The whole group has been very welcoming, which is wild because, in the comedy scene, people sometimes stab each other in the back.

Drag has a built-in community because it is mainly queer people. There is a sense of family in the drag world, which I love.

WCT: Tenderoni is always so nice in person.

SW: He gives so much to drag kings too. It can be hard to find men's clothing for drag, so it is helpful to know people to guide you and help you out. He is that person for a ton of people and gives people much-needed resources.

WCT: Do chest plates make you sweaty?

SW: It is horrible! It is 15 pounds of latex from neck to groin. I wear a tank top under it and can wring the tank top out after I am done.

WCT: Talk about your journey to Worst Cooks in America.

SW: The casting duo reached out to my drag page. By having a public page I get a lot of direct messages, so I thought it was a scam. They were asking me to audition so it seemed legit. I had nothing to lose so I jumped on a video call and I immediately recognized the casting agent from a reality show. I started taking it seriously and sent in an audition tape.

I eventually got a call one day and they asked me to come to New York in two days. We filmed there for about two months.

WCT: Did you stir up the pot on the show?

SW: No, but I was really competitive. I played nice while trying very hard to win.

WCT: There was another Chicago contestant on this season named Etherio Noon. Did you team up with him?

SW: I didn't know him before this. We were on the same team, but the thing is you compete against your own team the whole time. One from the red team and one from the blue team eventually compete in the finale.

Etherio is a good cook. I was trying to take him out the whole time!

WCT: From watching Worst Cooks in the past it starts off with how bad a cook a person is. Is the goal to improve that cook's skills by the end?

SW: You start off cooking and they rate your food. They pick their team and yes the goal is to make someone the best cook out of the Worst Cooks.

Contestants learn under a chef with skill drills and learn new techniques. There is a practice round that plays into it later. It was so hard. We did things that I never thought we would have to do.

WCT: What are your thoughts on Anne Burrell?

SW: It is her show and she usually has the winner. She is the team everyone wants to be on. Jeff Mauro was so nice and I would kiki with him, but I felt I needed a drill sergeant like Anne who would yell at me. She was always sweet to me though and when I cried she was there for me.

Anne has two big, fluffy Maine Coon cats with her on set. They live with her in her trailer.

WCT: Are you a cat or dog person?

SW: I like both, but I have a cat.

WCT: The theme of this season is Love at First Bite. Did they ask if you were single at the audition?

SW: Yes. When they first reached out they told me it was a singles season. I told them I am gay and was concerned it was a straight show. The producers assured me they would have queer people and it would be a mix.

I was single at the time and was ready for love.

WCT: Do you have a favorite romantic restaurant in Chicago?

SW: My favorite place to take a date is Beatnik on the River. I love the lamb ribs and the vibe. It is bohemian with big candelabras everywhere. Who's horny?

WCT: Favorite food?

SW: Pulled pork nachos.

WCT: A food you have always wanted to cook?

SW: I wanted to learn how to roll sushi. It looks easy, but it is very hard as it turns out.

WCT: What is your overall goal for being on Worst Cooks?

SW: Any press is good press. Even though everyone knows I am now one of the Worst Cooks in America at least they know me. I am an artist, an actor, a comedian and I do drag.

I had never worked in film before so I learned how everything works and how long the days are. It is freezing on the set. No one tells you that!

WCT: Is it because of the lights?

SW: Possibly. There is food all around so it is like a big walk-in freezer. The crew wears sweatshirts and jackets. When they called cut we would cover up after each take.

WCT: Do you have a drag show coming up?

SW: I am constantly doing shows at Berlin Nightclub, Roscoe's and The Walnut Room at Macy's on State Street. I feel like I am at a wedding when I perform at Macy's and I love to dance around the fountain.

WCT: Are you having a party for your big debut on the Food Network?

SW: I will be at the Annoyance Theatre for an upcoming episode and we will have a drag show after it screens that is inspired by the episode. My girlfriend is a burlesque dancer and will be dressed up as a sexy Anne Burrell. I hope Anne doesn't sue us!

Meat up at FoodNetwork.com for more information about Worst Cooks in America: Love at First Bite airing on August 6, 2023, at 7 p.m. central time.

Keep up with Yur.Unkle and his exploits by following the country bumpkin on Instagram!


This article shared 13611 times since Sat Aug 5, 2023
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