Sunday, June 29
I was so impressed with this morning's premiere of Anne Burrell's Secrets of a Restaurant Chef that I had to post about it right away.
As you know, Anne has served as Mario Batali's sous chef on Iron Chef America and is a renowned chef in her own right, so it's a fair guess that she's very comfortable in the kitchen. And while the experience on ICA surely helped Anne learn some of the TV ropes, I wouldn't say it instills the skills one needs to host her own cooking show.
So that was the test this morning.
Luckily, Anne's comfort in the kitchen was immediately apparent from the very beginning of this morning's premiere episode. She spoke enthusiastically and with ease, her somewhat over-the-top sayings ("Supastar!") and gestures never coming across as wooden or forced, but truly genuine and endearing. It really felt like Anne would refer to beef as a "supastar" in her restaurant kitchen... and wouldn't care if someone gave her an odd look in the process.
(A note on the set above: Anne has a lively, striking personality. There seems to be a disparity between Anne--with her spiky blonde locks and vibrant gestures--and her somewhat Granny-esque set, complete with old-fashioned lampshades and odd framed paintings. Was this the idea? If so, I don't get it.)
The choice to focus on bolognese--a sauce that Anne admittedly notes requires lots of steps, time and patience to achieve perfection--was smart. She explained each step and its importance, while keeping true to Food Network's mantra of "you can do this!"
Plus, Anne even came up with a new phrase to describe those awesome brown bits that stick to the bottom of the pan while cooking a sauce like this: beautiful brown crud!
One of the reasons I so quickly responded to this show was that I truly wanted to make this sauce after watching Anne prepare it. That should be the goal of every dish that every Food Network host prepares!!! But it doesn't always come across that way.
I often feel like so many dishes are thrown at us with a "this might be good to make, or you could make it this way... or try it with this instead" kind of attitude that it ends up seeming like the host is just completely ambivalent as to what s/he's preparing. That was definitely not the case with Anne and her bolognese.
The fact that cooking the sauce for 4+ hours (a bit of a no-no in today's superfast Food Network world) didn't even phase me is a testament to just how successful Anne was in pulling off this important, opinion-forming premiere episode. It was definitely a bold choice, and one that I applaud Anne (and her producers) for choosing.
I'm sure the foodie-focused crew will appreciate Anne's culinary skill and knowledge, while the entertainment-liking peeps (the category I fit into more often) will be seriously engaged and want to continue watching.
An expert restaurant chef, Anne's attention to detail in taste as well as presentation were fresh and actually informative. Those little things we look forward to in restaurants (the extra sprinkling of cheese or last second drizzle of olive oil) are the same things we often forget when cooking at home. I was impressed by these simple and very effective touches.
After watching today's Secrets of a Restaurant Chef I seriously want to spend four hours tonight making what I just saw. And even if I'm not as successful as Anne, I'm confident I'll still feel like a... supastar.
Someone pass me the peroxide. I'm off to bleach my hair. I'm a Burrell groupie!
So did you watch, yet? Am I right or completely off base?