Known for her spiky blond mane (now with a rockin' tinge of pink) and sassy attitude, Anne Burrell is so much more than an esteemed chef, cookbook author, and cooking show host. Anne is also a mentor. On the fifth season of the Food Network show Worst Cooks in America, she (along with Bobby Flay) will once again test her patience levels by attempting to teach the willing contestants to heat it up the kitchen with the hopes to win a $25,000 prize. Starting February 17th you can get in on the fun of watching the flips and flops that will be flying as Anne tries her best to turn the incompetent into capable cooks. Before the big premiere, we talked to Burrell and got some background details and also found out what the new season has in store for us.
OC Weekly (Ali Lerman): So how does the casting process work with the contestants?
Anne Burrell: Each of the “would be cooks” come to us with their “signature dish” and we ask them about it. There have been some super interesting dishes!
Out of all of the “would-be cooks” you've come across while doing this show, what was the worst thing or mistake they made?
The worst cook I've ever encountered on the show was this one guy who put corn on beef, thinking it was “corned beef.” I just had to laugh it off. Hilarious!
What kind of challenges will you be putting the “cook-testants” through this season?
This season starts off nitty gritty with a culinary boot camp. Each contestant has to prepare what they consider to be their “signature dish.” From there, Bobby and I get to feel out the competition and select our culinary teams that we will mentor. I can't give away too much more, you'll have to watch and see for yourself!
Fair enough! What is generally the toughest thing to teach these contestants?
It's tough teaching the contestants not only how to cook, but how to cook well, because they all start off super clueless in the kitchen. I'm literally teaching people how to take their first baby steps. It's challenging at times but in the end, I always wind up on their side rooting them on. It is so great to see what they actually achieve!
Since you are such a great chef, how difficult is it for you to stand there and watch them cut the wrong way or not pay attention and burn their food?
It used to really surprise me at how clueless some people were but now, I take it as it comes. I just love seeing the moment that the light bulb goes off and they actually start to learn, connect, and actually feel good about themselves. That blossoming transformation is really lovely.
Learn more about Anne on her website www.AnneBurrell.com and follow her on Twitter @ChefAnneBurrell. Make sure you tune in to catch the premiere of Worst Cooks in America on Food Network Monday February 17th at 6pm PST. For more info on the show, go to www.FoodNetwork.com.
Ali Lerman knows much about comedy, basketball, and celebrating Wu-Tang Wednesday. She’s been writing for sixteen years and still calls her mom with grammatical questions.