Cooking Tips from Anne Burrell

Worst Cooks in America coach Anne Burrell has some tough-love advice for the truly helpless.
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061110_WCIA_Anne_Single-8061.jpg

As the two-time host and champion cooking coach on Worst Cooks in America, Anne Burrell has seen her share of bad cooking. Not ordinary bad-dinner-party-at-the-neighbors' bad cooking, but unfathomably bad, practically gag-inducing cooking. "I've seen food so burned, so over-spiced that it's inedible," Anne says. "My favorite was a guy who boiled a whole chicken and dumped some tomato sauce on it and called it chicken parmigiana."

Anne is back for round three on February 12, when Worst Cooks in America returns, and she'll be going head-to-head with co-host Bobby Flay trying to whip the country's most disastrous home cooks into shape. We asked the former culinary school teacher and restaurant chef what bad cooks can do to step up their game.

Stop making excuses!

"I'm so over the 'I have a tiny kitchen' excuse. Restaurant kitchens are tiny, and there are a lot of freaking people who work in them, so that's not an excuse. Also, don't tell me French food is hard. It isn't; it's the French who make it more difficult than it needs to be."

Salt, then salt again.

"When I went to culinary school, I'd bring my vinaigrette to the teachers and they'd say, 'Needs more salt.' I was scared to death of salt, so I'd go back and put in three grains of salt and it would taste the same. But salt makes things taste like what they are. If you don't put in enough salt, you will never be a good cook."

Brown your food.

"Brown the crap out of your meat until there is crud in the pan. That's where the flavor is. People complain that I say 'crap' and 'crud,' but I say, 'You heard me and remembered it, right??'"

Double dip all you want.

"While cooking, I taste my food, and people say, 'Eww, you double dipped.' Come on. Like you don't lick a spatula and put it back in the bowl? You have to taste your food."

Get over yourself.

"I'm always shocked that some people know they are bad cooks but they would die before they would consult a recipe. If you didn't know how to do something, wouldn't you get directions?"

When in doubt, roast a chicken.

"When you are having people over, you want a dinner that's a super cinch. So make a roasted chicken. Roasted chicken is always a little bit fancy, but all you do is lube it up and shoot it in the oven."

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Anne Burrell Bio

With her trademark spiky blond hair and pumped-up personality, Anne Burrell has worked at some of the top restaurants in New York and studied the culinary landscape and traditions of Italy. Anne makes restaurant dishes accessible and reveals concise, easy-to-master techniques for the at-home cook on her Food Network series Secrets of a Restaurant Chef. On her show Chef Wanted, Anne helps top restaurateurs find candidates with the right experience and creativity to become executive chefs. On Worst Cooks in America, Anne joins Tyler Florence in mentoring teams of hopeless home cooks from around the country, putting them through culinary boot camp. In 2011, Anne published her first cookbook, Cook Like a Rock Star, which gives home cooks the confidence and support to be rock stars in their own kitchens. Her cookbook earned a place on the New York Times Best Seller list. In 2013, Anne released her second cookbook, Own Your Kitchen. Growing up in upstate New York, Anne developed a passion for food and cooking at an early age. After obtaining an English and communications degree from Canisius College in Buffalo, she pursued her interest in the restaurant business by enrolling in the Culinary Institute of America. Following graduation, she spent a year in Italy attending the Italian Culinary Institute for Foreigners while working at La Taverna del Lupo in Umbria and La Bottega del' 30, a Michelin one-star restaurant in Tuscany. During this year, Anne grew to truly appreciate and understand the philosophy of Italian cuisine and culture, which left a lasting impact on her culinary point of view. Upon her arrival in New York City, Anne was hired as a sous chef at Felidia, working with Lidia Bastianich. She then served as a chef at Savoy, where she cooked over an open wood fire and created flavorful menus inspired by Mediterranean countries. Here Anne developed her personal culinary style: rustic food made with pure and simple ingredients with intense flavors. Anne then took the opportunity to spread her culinary knowledge and passion as a teacher at the Institute of Culinary Education. After three years, Anne went back to the restaurant business, serving as the executive chef at Lumi. As the executive chef at New York hot spot Centro Vinoteca from its opening in July 2007 through September 2008, Anne served up her "creative-authentic" Italian menu of small plates (piccolini), antipasti, pastas and main courses accented by her trademark bold, pure flavors.

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