Let me introduce you to Anne Burrell. Anne's a multi-tasker with many roles in the food industry. First and foremost, she's the executive chef of a restaurant, Centro Vinoteca, in New York City. She works at the restaurant six days a week and isn't much of a home cook. In her downtime Anne competes as Mario Batali's sous chef on Iron Chef America. However, her latest role is as a hostess of Secrets of a Restaurant Chef, a new show on Food Network. This Sunday (at 9:30 a.m.) Anne's coming to a kitchen near you and she's teaching you how to cook like she does in her Centro Vinoteca. Earlier this week I chatted with the former Culinary Institute of America instructor, to see what she had to say,
PartySugar: With your show, what are you hoping to teach the American people?
Anne Burrell: I want to help people understand that they can do restaurant food at home. I want to take the fear factor out of cooking. Cooking is such a daunting task to a lot of people and it doesn't have to be. It's not really rocket science. Once you know the techniques, like how to understand high heat, you can do it. When you cook, you have to be entirely comfortable. Cooking is like a dog when you're nervous, it knows your nervous. A lot of people think that cooking is genetic, and they say, oh I cook because my mom cooked. But cooking isn't genetic, you have to learn how to do it first before it becomes common sense. In the restaurant, we are always looking for ways to maximize flavor and minimize effort and that's what I'm going to teach you to do.
PS: Tell me about working with Mario Batali on Iron Chef.
AB: Well this season we are not doing it, due to conflicts in Mario's schedule during filming, but we are still very much a viable team. Being on Iron Chef is every bit as stressful as it seems. I just do my best and tell myself, I'm not going to be the reason Mario loses.
PS: What's your advice to the every day, home cook?
AB: My advice, sadly it doesn't seem that exciting, is to read the recipe! Read the recipe from start to finish before you begin to cook. When I was learning how to cook, I never wanted to read the recipe, but now I see how important it is because you can start doing what I call "crap detecting" where you filter out steps. Basically, you modify the recipe to get rid of the crap. Sometimes you'll read a recipe that says, saute the onions in one pan and the mushrooms in another and later you will combine the two in the same pan, so why not eliminate those first steps? Saute them both in the same pan, and save time while making the dish more flavorful.
PS: What's your favorite kitchen tip?
AB: Use salt! Generously use salt. Taste everything as you go along. Really sitting and tasting the food is something the home cook is reluctant to do. Food should taste good, you have to control that quality.
PS: What did you have for lunch today?
AB: I had a turkey sandwich on rye toast with mayo, lettuce, and potato chips. I always put potato chips in my sandwiches because I like that crunch.
Now that you know a little bit more about Anne, will you watch her show?