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Monica’s Juicy Blog » Chef Anne Burrell of “Worst Cooks In America” talks to Monica DiNatale

Friday, January 29, 2010

Chef Anne Burrell of “Worst Cooks In America” talks to Monica DiNatale

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Chef Anne Burrell first entered our homes with Mario Batali in 2004, on the hit Food Network show “Iron Chef”.  She is currently hosting both “Secrets of a Restaurant Chef” and co-hosting “Worst Cooks in America”. Each week Chef Anne, along with Beau MacMillan do their best to transform 12 of the worse cooks into culinary stars. Sunday we’ll learn who represents Chef Anne in the final challenge: cook a restaurant quality meal to esteemed food critics to win the $25,000 prize.

As with most great chefs, Chef Anne began her career as a waitress and soon fell in love with the restaurant business and the art of cooking. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America she spent a year studying at the Italian Culinary Institute while working at La Taverna del Lupo in Umbria and La Bottega del’30 in Tuscany. Upon arrival in New York City, her passion led to a teaching position at the Institute of Culinary Education. Chef Anne graced the New York City kitchens at Felidia, Lumi , Italian Wine Merchants and most recently, Centro Vinoteca. 

Today Chef Anne spends most of her time on Food Network teaching us all to be better cooks. I spoke to her about her latest challenge.

Did you enjoy the challenge of transforming these cooks?  Of course! When I started I was so unprepared for the real part of a reality show. It hadn’t even occurred to me the crying and the participant’s real nervousness. They were really trying to do something and not having it go well. This is really real. That makes you care for the people even more.

What techniques would you like to see your team master? Mise en place. Read your recipe and get all your stuff ready before you start cooking. That makes cooking so much less stressful and so much more fun. Get all your onions cut and your herbs cut and then you can clean as you go and you’re not cluttered and disorganized.

The biggest problem is “they get in their own heads and psych themselves out and get nervous. It’s a stressful situation. There are cameras everywhere. ”

Were you ever as bad as the contestants on “Worst Cooks”? I was never that bad. I definitely had some mistakes in my career but I always decided to consult a cookbook. It doesn’t have to be that stressful. The recipes that I teach my team, I have written. They are somewhat simple. Take a deep breath and relax. Food is like a dog, it smells fear.”

When you are cooking remember to “get in there and try it, you will make mistakes. Read your recipe.”

How confident are you to have one of the contestants represent you in the final challenge? I can teach anyone to cook a dinner. They have done a good job of overcoming the challenges. After Sunday they will be as ready as they can be.

Your teaching background must have helped you with “Worst Cooks”.                                                                                                                        Absolutely. Being a teacher…it’s so funny… it all comes back to “everything happens for a reason”. All the parts of my career, there is always a place where they come into play.

Chef Anne’s most important tools include “one good knife and sharpener, a good cutting board, and a descent work space.” She admits she wants to return to a New York kitchen soon and is “currently in talks with people.”

With Valentine’s Day around the corner Chef Anne does have a suggestion. “If you want to get into your husband’s heart I would recommend short ribs.”

The two part finale of “Worst Cooks in America” is Sunday and Monday, January 31& February 1, 10pm on Food Network

posted by funfoodwithmonica at 5:05 pm  

3 Comments »

  1. Great chat Monica. I’ve loved watching this show. . it’s hard to believe people can be this bad, but I guess it’s whether or not you’ve been taught something about the kitchen as you’re growing up. Good stuff. . thanks MOnica

    Comment by Food Lover — January 30, 2010 @ 4:59 pm

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