Anne Burrell bites back


Worst Cooks in America star Anne Burrell is back to delight viewers in the UK with Secrets of a Restaurant Chef, exclusively on Food Network. She is on a mission to let UK cooks in on the secrets of making great restaurant-style food at home.

Her passion spills over into everything she does, and despite the jet-lag, Anne shared her views on everything from tipping to fast food, odd socks and bras when we caught up with her on a flying visit to London.

Pet peeves and bellyaching

"I've got a million pet peeves! Chefs who don't think, chefs who don't taste their food as they go, and chefs who work in a sloppy way. As far as customers go, I can't bear it when people say they don't like things without even trying them. Also, people who come in and want to change the menu. The thing is about chefs is we all have egos, you have to, but you also have to be humble enough to understand it's the restaurant business and you're only as good as what people will pay for."

"I think the minimum tip is 15%, I mean 15% to me is if you got abominable service. The standard (in the US) is 20%. It should go to the staff, absolutely because they're the ones doing the work for it. So many people get paid so little in restaurants that tipping is essential."

On fast food

"My problem with fast food is that the quality is so poor. I don't have a problem with the speed, I have a problem with the quality. You can do better food, it just doesn't have to be poor quality food, it makes me so angry."

A girl in a man's world

Anne is known for her funky, individual look and especially for her spiky, blonde hair. She explains her aversion to traditional kitchen chef's whites:

"There aren't so many girl chefs. It's hard to maintain your femininity in a man's world. First of all, I like being a girl in a man's world. When I worked in Italy, all the old ladies rocked skirts, so I thought, why can't I do that in the States? And so, I always wear skirts, but my socks never match and I always wear hockey shoes. People also tell me I need to wear a hat, but I'm like, 'I can't put a hat on this hair!'"

Restaurant chef turned TV superstar

In her own quirky way, Anne explains some of the new challenges she faced when she first starting cooking on TV:

"Cooking on TV is so unnatural. It's so invasive — you go in there and people are touching your hair and your face with make-up. Then you get dressed and you think you look cute and then some guy comes and starts digging around your bra to put your microphone in! And you think, if I knew this was going to happen, I would have worn a better bra!"

"I made this my career for three reasons: one, I can go anywhere in the world to do my job; two, people in this industry are usually really creative, and just have a different outlook, a different take on life; and three, my education is never over and I love that."

Tune in to Secrets of a Restaurant Chef - Weekdays at 09.30 & 15.30 from Tuesday 1st February on Food Network UK. Find out more about rock-and-roll chef Anne Burrell.