Back in the Winner's Circle: Anne Burrell Dishes on Her Worst Cooks Victory
After a three-season winning streak, Worst Cooks in America's Red Team coach, Anne Burrell, suffered two back-to-back losses, but just last night she reclaimed her victorious title in a nail-biting finale. "It feels like I've been restored to my correct position," she told FN Dish in an exclusive interview. The veteran mentor spent seven weeks at Boot Camp with her team of recruits, detailing the beginner how-tos of the kitchen and building confidence within the novice cooks, and ultimately her mentee Kristen Redmond proved just how much she's learned from Anne in a cook-off against the Blue Team's Genique Freeman.
Read on below to hear more from Anne as she dishes on the finale, shares her proudest moment as a mentor and gives must-know kitchen tips for Worst Cooks fans at home.
Congratulations on a Red Team win! How does it feel to have reclaimed your title?
Anne Burrell: It feels like I've been restored to my correct position (I say with a wink and a smile).
Did you ever think Kristen would be representing you and your team in the finale?
AB: After the first day, there was something I saw in her that I thought she might really have potential. She comes from a restaurant family, so I was hoping that she might have some cooking in her blood.
Did you find that coaching her was easier or more difficult because of her culinary background?
AB: Once we got past her "cheerleader" and "princess" mentality she actually picked up things fairly quickly.
What one piece of advice would you like to give Kristen as she leaves Boot Camp?
AB: Keep on cooking! Don't revert to your cheerleader ways ... or be a cooking cheerleader!
As Kristen's coach, did you learn anything from her — beyond a little cheer in the finale?
AB: She tried to teach me a cheer, I tried to replicate ... not so successfully. Maybe she was a better student than I was.
Next to Kristen's win, what was your proudest moment as a mentor this season?
AB: Seeing David overcome his thing with the Indian taco challenge. He started off in a bad situation and got very overwhelmed. I talked him off the ledge and then he won that challenge! I'm so proud of him.
This is your first season with Tyler Florence as your fellow mentor. How do you think your coaching styles differed from one another?
AB: I definitely feel like I pride myself on being a teacher. I definitely feel like that’s my role on Food Network. I feel like I’m a teacher. I’m a huge competitor. And I really enjoy it. I really enjoy seeing people connect the dots and be successful and sometime baby steps happen, sometimes big steps happen, sometime bad stuff happens. … It’s so important to me that every season I approach it as a real reality show. I am always concerned about the teaching moments: How are these building blocks happening, and how do we make sure these people get better? Because if they don’t, we have failed as teachers. So I think I understand this more than my competitors do.
Six seasons in, are you still amazed — and maybe horrified — at just how beginner the recruits are, or do you just laugh about it at this point?
AB: I laugh about it, yes, but every season I think I am mentally prepared, and I am just not.
For home cooks who watched this season on TV and aspire to learn to cook, what kitchen technique do you think they should master first?
AB: First off, how to approach a recipe, how to approach cooking. I mean, don’t just tear into something and start cooking before you have all of your prep work done. You need to do your mise en place. ( Mise en place is a French term that means "put in place.") It’s also about your mental mise en place; read your recipes, get out all of your ingredients, do all of your knife cuts, clean as you go. And then once you have all of your stuff done, you can approach it in a calm, organized fashion, and it actually gets really fun and it's not so crazy and frenetic. Look at whatever you’re making as little pieces. Don’t look at the whole thing. Look at it step by step, break it down, be calm, maybe have a glass of wine, smile and enjoy the process. But start with baby steps. So it's like once you do all these little parts of a recipe, you can take a step back and think, "Oh, wait a minute. All this stuff is dinner."