Leopold Nunan – Worst Cooks In America
By: Jamie Steinberg
Q) What are the recent projects you have been busy working on?
A) I am preparing my music video for a song called “Multiple Personality.” It’s a crazy video and it’s my first single in America. We are now doing the final after effects on it and it is ready to go! I change costumes thirty-eight times! It’s pretty crazy.
Q) How did you get involved with the show “Worst Cooks in America?”
A) It was my partner’s idea. Poor thing, he suffers with me cooking and preparing bad food in the house. He’s my handler though. I love to entertain! I come from a traditional Brazilian family with Portuguese ties so I love to entertain. We always have people in the house. So, I inherited that from my mom and dad. I have a lot of people coming to the house and I never cooked something that I was proud of. Thomas, my partner, is my hazard control person. He controls the fire and the house. He is always helping me and I tell him he is my sous chef, but truly he is just making sure the house doesn’t get burned.
Q) How did you decide on the meatloaf dish you originally prepared to introduce yourself to the chefs?
A) Thomas loves meatloaf so sometimes I stop by this Jewish deli next door to me and buy the meatloaf. Then, I pretend it was me that cooked it by heating it up in the house. So, Thomas said, “Why don’t you show the chefs how you are going to impress them with how bad you are!” There is also a potato salad that I made for a potluck. I said, “Okay, I’ll bring my famous potato salad.” But the potato salad turned out to be infamous because it was the only dish that nobody touched! I took it personal that they were not eating my salad. I put too much mayo in it and I messed the whole thing up with putting raw stuff in it.
Q) Were you hoping to have a chef as your mentor?
A) I am a hundred percent a fan of Chef Anne Burrell. I just loved her in every way that you can imagine. I was like, “Please Chef Anne! Please!” When she picked me, my heart was beating a hundred beats per second! I was just going crazy. I was really happy because I really wanted Chef Anne. I love Chef Tyler. He’s so warm and has a big heart, but I think for my style – I’m easily distracted so I need Chef Anne to give me that tough love.
Q) What was it like working with Chef Anne?
A) She totally tamed me and I’m really hard to tame. Kudos to her! She’s amazing! She really whipped me into shape. Now, when I cook in the house, I am different. When I used to cook, there was this desperate feeling of anxiety. Now, it is more of a therapy. I make my mise en place before I start and I plan my food before I touch my fridge. I have a little bit of planning and it makes the whole thing fun. It’s like night and day in my kitchen. I used to throw things in a pan and just fix something. Now, I actually cook.
Q) How did your family and friends first react to you being on the show?
A) They were like, “Hallelujah!” because when my family comes to visit me from Brazil they always love to cook. So, I let them cook, but there is so much fun in the kitchen and I was always missing it. I was fixing the music, I was going to buy wine and I wasn’t really focused. Now, I can connect with them and it is one more way to bond. I can’t wait to go back to Brazil because my mom is a fantastic cook. She said, “I can’t wait to spend time with you in the kitchen because before I didn’t want to.” She would chase us out of the kitchen all the time. We were three boys in the house so she would keep the kids away from the kitchen for security reasons so we wouldn’t get burned. So, we developed the idea that the kitchen was not a place to be. Now, I can revisit that and get on it with my mom. I can’t wait!
Q) What did you think when you first saw the people you would be competing against?
A) We are so different! I think the casting person just did a fantastic job. We are from different walks of life and different backgrounds. So, I couldn’t wait to talk to them and get to know them. I really loved everybody! There was not one person I didn’t like. Everybody was so amazing. I wish they had cameras in the house to show all of us living in one house in New York. It was the best part of being on the show. Now, I’m the only boy in the house!
Q) What was it like living with your fellow contestants?
A) Really crazy! It was amazing because the boys were on the top floor and the girls were in another room. It was really, really amazing. We were making breakfast for everybody and Sarah would blend smoothies for everyone. I felt like I was in college again. It was an incredible feeling! We didn’t have to worry about the phone or outside things. It was like a retreat for me.
Q) Who did you become the closest to from your time on the show?
A) Genique is my number one friend that I hung out with. She is my best friend and we Facetime all the time. I love her! She’s coming to visit me. She is going to be my friend forever. I love Genique with all of my heart! Norman and Genique were my best friends there and then Sarah and I have been working a lot together with her painting me. She did my music video with me and we did a couple photo shoots together. I can’t believe how talented she is as an artist. I’m very thrilled to work with her. But Genique is my bestie friend. I think Norman is going to be my friend forever, too. Also, Michael “Six” is a cool guy! We shared a room and he is so fantastic, talented, full of life, funny and smart! He’s business oriented. So, I had very good times with Michael “Six.” We shared the same room so we talked a lot.
Q) There are a lot of people online that doubt you are all really this bad! What would you say to them?
A) If you just see us and look at how we cut things…Even though I am one the finalists, you can see that I still don’t know how to cut things. I definitely have an interest for food, but to cook – I didn’t do anything. Everything I know about cooking Chef Anne taught me. I don’t really read too much of what people think. To be in the public eye, this is the first time I’ve ever done TV and the first time I’ve ever been in front of a camera. I’m an artist from theater, clubs and rock shows. I have my band. This is me coming from the underground to the mainstream and me changing my media. I’m coming from the theater to the TV. So, I’m still learning how to deal with this attention.
Q) You are in the top four contestants! Who was your biggest competition?
A) I can’t believe I got this far, especially with Norman, Michael “Six” and David. Norman is a good cook! He can cook! I was really frightened. I didn’t want to leave. I really wanted to stay as long as I could. So, whatever you see on the show is my best. I gave it my best! I didn’t want to disappoint Chef Anne. My biggest motivation was not to disappoint Chef Anne. I care so much about her and I love her so much. I had so much appreciation and I didn’t want to disappoint her. My whole intention was around that.
Q) This week we get to see you reinvent your meatloaf! Tell us about it.
A) I felt very lucky that I could really learn the real deal meatloaf. I was lucky! Thomas is the luckiest because now he is having good meatloaf in the house.
Q) What did you learn from your time being on the show?
A) Choosing flavors and salt…We didn’t even have salt in the house! Now, in building flavors it is a whole new thing. My friends and neighbors are all coming over now!
Q) What was the reaction from your family and friends when you came home?
A) I wanted to impress everyone. I wanted to show them this was a new Leopold! I knew that food impacted peoples’ lives, but not on this level! I’m so grateful because everyone is saying, “I lost ten pounds! I’m in better shape.” Well, I gained ten pounds because I can’t stop cooking and I can’t stop eating! I have to get my bikini body back because summer is around the corner! A friend of mine told me not to worry because you can never trust a skinny cook. So, now it is perfect because you can trust my new curves! I can’t stop cooking. It has changed the way that I shop in the supermarket. It’s all new. Now, I have a peeler! I never had a peeler before! I have new set of chef knives. Everything has changed and it shows. There was a Super Bowl get together and I brought food. They were all, “I want to taste a ‘Work Cooks’ food!” Before my salad was neglected in a corner. Now, my food is the centerpiece of the party! I’m so surprised to see how popular the show is and I’m getting recognized in the supermarket and on the streets. I’m having a blast! I cannot believe all of this is happening.
Q) What do you want to be sure fans to be sure they know about you?
A) I’m pre-producing a show called “Out With Leo.” It’s pretty exciting. I go out on town looking for the best martinis, the best Thai food and after hours food. It’s really exciting and it’s funny, sweet, quick and fast paced. I can’t wait to start showing it! I’m also writing a cookbook with my mother. That’s the most exciting thing! We are writing a book about Brazilian food. My sister came to visit me and brought all of my mom’s notes and her five hundred best recipes. I’m just picking fifty of them. It’s about Brazilian food and drinks and it’s so exciting. It will have my mom’s cooking and the next page some drawings of mine from when I was three or four years old. It’s fantastic! It’s like a dream.
Q) What would you like to say to everyone who is a fan and supporter of you from the show?
A) I get really emotional…I had people here that appreciate my shows local, but I never had national range. So, I’m really, really thankful. I want to share my love and all my appreciation for the personal messages. I try to answer all of them. It’s so important for me to have fans. It’s a new thing for me so I’m really grateful and I get emotional! I love it so much and I have no words to explain all my love. I appreciate every single message. Root for me!