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. Brock says:

    Last year I watched the Season 1 rerun and Season 2. I have been cooking for many years but the shows taught me that there are many steps between "grab a knife" and "take it out of the oven" that I had overlooked. Since then I have taken boot camps at Culinary Institute of America and Recreation classes at Cambridge School of Culinary Arts. I am widowed so I cook for myself mostly.
    I am disappointed that Season 1 is not online. I would like to see a DVD set that included the TV shows as well as some film of what went on that was not televised.

  2. sue baker says:

    Anne – Don't scream at the contestant. Would you like to be screamed at.

  3. Eveline Wilkie says:

    I've been cooking for 48 years and am considered an excellent cook and hostess. I couldn't do what you expect these novices to do. What's wrong with having a recipe in front of you? And the time constraints are ridiculous!

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  5. Concerned Viewer says:

    Having never watched the show before, I think there is something that seriously needs to be addressed. I see many of the contestants tasting their food and emptying the rest of the food on the spoon or fork back into the dish. Would anyone seriously want a chef or cook to taste the food, putting their germs onto the fork or spoon, and put it back into the dish? They are risking some serious contamination by doing this. If you are teaching these people the skills of chefs, this is definitely something they need to learn: don't contaminate the food.

    • Concerned Viewer says:

      Just so that everyone understands… I am not saying don't taste your food. Just don't reuse the spoon or fork or put food that has touched your mouth back into the dish. Use a clean utensil. Please!

  6. veg says:

    i was very disappointed to see a grilled steak beat out a squab and an apple pie (with overdone, ugly apples) win over a pistachio creme brule…..and, weren't the sweet potatoes a little questionable also… seems to me no matter well the opposing team cooks the judges lean towards Anne's team….but then. it is her show!!! I loved Kelli, so it's nothing personal, just seemed a little unjust!!!!

  7. dave says:

    hi dave my name i love anne burrell and i am so happy kelly won great show keep up great work

  8. dave says:

    hi i have another comment that jeffery zakarian comes off as a real snob as well as some of the other judges on chopped are they really like that i dont care for a few of them get some more cheerful down to earth judges would be a better show.

  9. Sheralyn says:

    This is the only place I can find to leave a comment. First I want to say…I was a fan. I watch worst cooks in america and always cheered for your players chef anne. I dvr iron chef in america and you were one of my favorites and was so sad to not see you win….but your apprearance on all stars chopped last night made me so upset I will never wact your shows again….I was so mad I could not watch the rest of the show. You were the one who wanted micheal symon off. I guess you always say you are a sore loser and you did not win iron chef and he was a judge…the only difference was he was playing for a charity…….he is such a first class chef…and you wanted him off before penny…really…omg…..I was looking to blog this last night. And just so you know I have never blog anything about a show ever in my life. I really felt your actions were immature and I’m glad you did not win iron chef because you truely are not to the level of micheal symon……I know you probably do not care you lost a fan you have so many….I was just really disappointed in you.

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