Cooking Tips From Worst Cooks Coach Anne Burrell

by in Food Network Magazine, February 10th, 2012

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

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, going head-to-head with co-host Bobby Flay in 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 super easy. So make a roasted chicken (find Anne’s recipe at foodnetwork.com/anneschicken). Roasted chicken is always a little bit fancy, but all you do is lube it up and pop it in the oven.”

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Comments (34)

  1. Joe says:

    I make home made whip cream with heavy cream. Comes out great. Put in fridge, in a sealed tupperware, next day its all runny…help!!!

    • Hadrian says:

      when your cream is at the stiff peak stage, quickly whip in either 1 tbl cornstarch or 1 tbl bloomed gelatin per cup. good luck

  2. jimbubby says:

    I used to spice the 'crud' out of my dishes. It took me a while to back off the spices so you could taste the food. Also, recipes are how I learned what I know today. I turned out to be an average cook.

  3. Soozin says:

    Thanks for answering the things I thought were right, but know they are now that you’ve confirmed. Thank you for teaching me how to be a brave cook! Practice makes perfect! And it’s fun because there’s always something to learn!

  4. BiteOutOfLife says:

    I'm working on all of these things. People like my cooking, but it can sure as heck get better. Thanks for the tips!

  5. You all at Food Network rock, I watch this at least twice a day if not more. I have learned so much and have the most respect for all the chefs. Great JOB!

  6. nin wininger says:

    Hi, Ann my name is Nina and I watch the Food Network all the time.Just saw the worst cooks and I would really like to know how you would go about getting on the show .I know my way around the kitchen I do alot of cooking.Cooking and bakeing is my most favorite things to do.This would be a good challage for me so if you would please let me know i would greatly appericate it. Thanks Nina Wininger

  7. Joe says:

    I have a little bit of a problem with how Anne handled Richard. I don’t know if Richard has had it diagnosed, but his behavior is along the line of Aspergers (autism), where it is very difficult to “come across as serious”. Simple tasks can be very comfounding, emotions are difficult (notice the slight twitch at the end when he mentioned his girlfriend wouldn’t marry him unless he could cook), tend to be self-belittleing (notice when he calls himself a loser) and are generally highly intellegent (it said he was an attourney).

    Anne to me came across ignorant and a little bit of a bully in dealing with him. but if his girlfriend won’t marry him unless he can cook and makes him feel bad about himself, he needs to run from her as fast as he can, because she sounds like a bully

    • Evette M says:

      If Richard does have Aspergers you can't really blame Anne for not knowing how to deal with him as she would'nt know this. Also if he does have it this is defininitely not the type of situation he should be in. This very stressful what with being on TV, and learning new, complicated and confusing methods and steps in a highly competitive atmosphere. Either way I wish him the best of luck. On another note I thought Anne was a little more intense than usual, and am wodering if maybe she's just a little bit nervous this year. I personally still think she'll win though!!!!

  8. Reuben says:

    Thanksfor the tips Anne! All good things to know.

  9. FanFare57 says:

    Anne,
    You're still my favorite WCA coach! Your advice to keep salting the food is a bit misleading because it can lead to OVER salting something which makes that inedible.

  10. Linny says:

    How do you get a gig like this and don’t like a basic seasoning…fresh ground black peppercorns?

    • Colin says:

      Uh, why not? Pepper is so overused it's become almost useless as a viable spice. It's only fairly recently (cooking-wise) that it's been paired with salt at all…

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