A Ridgewood magician is trying to make his disastrous cooking skills disappear — and he’s turned to the Food Network for help.
Michael “Six” Muldoon, 26, is a contestant on “Worst Cooks in America,” which kicked off its sixth season on Jan. 4. The show takes 14 abysmal home cooks and divides them into two teams — one led by returning Chef Anne Burrell and the second by first-time opponent Chef Tyler Florence.
The contestants go through a culinary boot camp, during which two of them are eliminated each week. Two finalists, one from each team, will face off in the finale, where they will prepare a three-course menu. The winner will receive $25,000 and bragging rights for their chef.
Just how bad are these cooks? Some admit to starting kitchen fires and even poisoning friends and family.
When the contestants are told to create their signature dish in the first episode so the chefs can choose their teams, one contestant substitutes gummy bears for goose fat, then tries to cut the candy with the wrong end of a knife. Another woman cooks a baked potato by microwaving it in a plastic bag.
But Muldoon is just as clueless.
“I try to make meals that look like one thing and taste like something else, and it just never seems to work,” the magician says as he tries to explain his spaghetti and meatball cake, which looks like a cake but tastes like spaghetti and meatballs.
Florence is not impressed.
“Surprise, it’s burnt,” he says. And Burrell ends up picking Muldoon for her team.
Muldoon’s magic skills are better left for the stage, not the kitchen.
At a young age, Muldoon coped with having a sixth finger and weight issues. His Maspeth house burned down when he was 11 and his parents separated around that time. Muldoon found magic at about age 13, which helped give him the confidence he needed. He later turned the hobby into a career.
In addition to performing, he started System 6 Magic, a company that produces playing cards and DVDs. He is also vice president of Magicians Without Borders, which travels to more than 30 countries “using magic to entertain, educate and empower.”
Muldoon, who was 25 when he appeared on “Worst Cooks,” was nominated to be a contestant by his brother for his magic-inspired food that constantly missed the mark. The two have a bet that if Muldoon learns to cook, then his brother will learn some magic tricks.
“I wasn’t cooking bad. I was cooking over the top more than anything else, ” Muldoon said.
He only heard of the show in passing before being nominated, and after watching past episodes he wasn’t sure he could take the humiliation. But he ultimately decided the challenge was worth it.
“This is one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. You are learning and you’re memorizing and there are a lot steps,” he said.
Muldoon also wanted to appear on the competition so he could learn to cook for his girlfriend. With his new skills, he says it’s nice to give her a break from making meals.
Though Muldoon says the biggest lesson he’s learned from the show is simplicity, it doesn’t mean he has given up on his magic dishes.
“It’s in the back of my head,” he said. “Knowing what I know, I wonder if I can pull off a good one now.”
To see Muldoon compete in the next episode of “Worst Cooks in America,” watch Sunday, Jan. 18, at 9 p.m. on the Food Network.