One-Woman (Food Network) Show: Anne Burrell

By Fabiana Santana

You probably recognize her as Food Network guru Mario Batali’s right hand woman on Iron Chef America – her spiky, blond hair and control in the kitchen make her a hard one to forget.

But these days, it’s Anne Burrell who could use Mario’s help. She most recently ran the show at hard-to-get-into Centro Vinoteca and Gusto Ristorante e Bar Americano in Manhattan’s trendy West Village neighborhood, and now has her own show on the Food Network called Secrets of a Restaurant Chef (10:30am ET/PT)  where she shares all the tricks of her trade with home cooks. The overachiever took a break to talk to us about what it’s like having jobs that keep her so well fed.

How did you choose the recipes for your show?

I talk it over with the culinary producers and they tell me what the needs of the audience are. Like if the holidays are coming up, I will develop a bunch of recipes about that. Or if we want to focus on cooking with kids, I will come up with ideas for recipes kids can do.

What are some of your favorite tricks that you are now sharing with a home audience?

One of the important things that I can’t stress enough is to season as you go. Taste everything and season. So many times people get to the end of the recipe and add salt then and it just doesn’t work that way. Taste as you go, and even though it’s not done, it should still taste good and if it doesn’t, season.

What is the item you will miss most on the Centro Vinoteca menu?

That’s a hard one. Probably the pork chop. It’s just delicious. It’s big, meaty and juicy. Just yummy.

You also worked as Mario Batali’s sous chef in Iron Chef America. How was that? Did you learn new tricks or techniques?

There was no tie to experiment with cooking on the show, but it was always so much fun. Battle pizza dough was a good one. We baked it and then pureed it and made a bread based soup. And in another recipe we rolled and grilled it and then cooked it like pasta.

What was your favorite secret ingredient?

There have been so many but probably battle Parmigiano.  That was a great one.

How do you balance your workload – the consulting,  the TV show, your appearances and everything else you do?

It takes a lot of juggling.  But I am lucky to have great people helping me and reminding me to do things and where I have to be. And  when you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like work.

What is your favorite energy snack for a busy day?

Well I always picked at the restaurant a lot, so I am used to  always eating all day. But there were moments when I just have to have cheese. I would stop everything going on in the kitchen and say, “I have to have some cheese right now!” And I still do that.

What is your favorite childhood memory of food?

My mom was a really good cook but always made just enough.  And I always wanted more and there wasn’t more! She’d say, “Don’t eat just cause it tastes good” and I’d say “but why not?”. So now I do everything in abundance.

Centro Vinoteca did a lot of small plates. Why? Do you prefer them in a restaurant setting?

Small plates are great. I love them because instead of jumping right into bread you have a chance to eat something else and try new things. I love trying and tasting new stuff.

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