Anne Burrell Steps Out of Mario Batali's Shadow to Become a Force on Her Own

Categories: Screen Bites

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Anne Burrell
I never noticed much about Anne Burrell other than how quietly reliable she was as the culinary Sancho Panza to Mario Batali every time he was summoned to another Iron Chef gustatory battle. She was just obscure, white smocked Anne, relegated to the anonymous, though vital, drudgery of rolling pasta or making sure Batali's osso bucco was oh-so wonderful.

Well, clearly some faceless, development suit at the Food Network must have suspected there was more to Burrell than her obvious professional kitchen competence. Because -- Wow! -- she has become quite the force of nature on her yawningly titled show, Secrets of a Restaurant Chef.

After a month tracking Burrell on her program, I'm persuaded she may be the network's most watchable professional chef-turned-star. No one comes close to her ability to combine her restaurant-honed kitchen techniques -- no time-lapse photography needed when Burrell applies blade to veggies -- with one of the most original, quirk-filled on-camera personalities.

Take a recent episode built around a Burrell jaunt to Ireland. As she was producing a homespun menu of lamb and turnip stew along with a bread-and-butter pudding, Burrell seamlessly wove in little postcards from her recent trip. While braising the meat, she shared a moment involving her father's crotchety remarks about disliking turnips.

And while dousing the beautifully caramelized lamb pieces in two bottles of stout, Burrell then packed us on her trip back to Ireland while recounting a memorable Guinness brewery's tour, ending, naturally with a welcome bottle of dark beer.

Burrell's on-air persona combines the physical heft of Batali, a permanent case of bed-head and the totally wacky comedic sensibility of a pre-rehab Robin Williams. Naturally, that implies Burrell's kitchen demeanor comes with an entire lexicon of Burrellisms, all delivered in a nasalized voice that is chafing and endearing at the same time: Think a more sympathetic Joan Rivers.

At some point during the recent Irish stew segment, Burrell became an oral symphony, rolling her r's with sensual delight as she browned the lamb shoulder, or coming up with spontaneous mottos fit for throw-pillow embroidery: "Marjoram is that estranged cousin to oregano."

But it is her own street patois, often times delivered with a growl, or a chortle, that best garnishes her program: "Burn baby burn," Burrell all but cackles while blow-torching the bread-pudding's lid. "Come with me my little cuties," she coos to some plumping golden raisins." "Now that's a party in a pitcher," Burrell sing-songs, while gazing longingly at a bowl of Irish whiskey.

And in Burrell-speak, "Let's plate this shooting match" is her off-kilter way of saying: "Let's eat."

Again, like Robin Williams in his prime, Burrell's motor-mouthed, stream-of-consciousness narration skates right to the edge of giddy incoherence, but never, ever overshadows the cooking task at hand. Which makes Burrell the most Burrell-iant of the new Food Network stars.


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16 comments
Blah
Blah

Holy cow, do I loathe this woman. Not only does she use an unconscionable amount of salt, but she is also so enormously grating that I find it impossible to watch her for more than five minutes. She acts like a child on her show. There's nothing sexy about a tousle-haired, overweight woman in a sausage-casing skirt growling and cooing at her food.

JK
JK

I may not like her attitude toward people or her growl, but all,except one, of her recipies were fantastic. If you don't like her show then just don't watch it. Period. Watch the cooking channel instead. They have more chefs that cook like the old school shows there. If that is what you like. Anne may still be a witch but I don't care her food is good. People watch Ramsy and all the crap he hands to people and call him awesome. So to each its own.

snowbird
snowbird

Andrew.. just how much DID Anne Burrell pay you to write this review ? she is the most obnoxious persona on Food Network.. worse than Racheal Ray.. Paula Deen and Guy Fieri all rolled into one.....! This cow needs to be put out to pasture..!

Metoo
Metoo

She's a big FAT and UGLY imbecile and the MOST OBNOXIOUS creature on this network (and that's saying a lot since Rachel Ray and Fieri are SO incredibly heinous).You have to pass an obnoxious test to be  on Food Network anyway and every single scumbag on this nauseating channel is hard to watch with their constant drivel and asinine commentary. But ANNE is definitely the most obnoxious of the whole jerky group. NEVER ONCE has she used PEPPER and LOADS UP ALL RECIPES WITH TONS OF SALT.  Yuk! She also needs to wash her grungy looking hair and go on an f-ing diet.

Theriflemanslady3
Theriflemanslady3

I find her the most annoying chef on the food network.  Ina is the best.  Anne Burrell is the most difficult to watch.  She is supposed to be an adult cooking teacher.  She makes strange noises and talks constantly just like Rachel Ray.  Only Anne is worse.  Her food may be good but, she is the worst chef on the Food Network to watch.  She doesnt even know how to wash her hands correctly.  If I want her receipe, I put the food network on and look for it there.  That way I dont have to watch her. She is the worst Host on Food Network.  What were they thinking?

kim
kim

If I hear here say "cute" and talk to her food one more time, I'm going to wretch...the pixie attitude does not blend with this woman.  By far the most annoying chef to watch in any kitchen.  She could use a few pointers from Ina (who is awesome).

John
John

Sorry, can't stomach her any longer. She hates criticism, just read her tweets! Plus if you Google her, her colleagues find her to be a rude and foul mouth person to work with. She does have a discrimination lawsuit pending against her! Next..........

Fred
Fred

I dig her. I had her as a cooking instructor at ICE, long before her TV thing, and those one liners in the show are exactly the same as her class :). What you see on TV is exactly the way she is in class, so at least she is being honest.

Linda
Linda

She's grown on us and we watch her all the time now.Her recipes are amazing and pretty easy.Also she teaches as she goes and we enjoy her quirkiness and humor.

bah
bah

absolutely, totally agree - the growling, sound effects, made up words, stupid phrases - far too annoying and distracting to bear.

Darren
Darren

ARE YOU KIDDING?? Anne Burrell is the most annoying person on the Food Network. More than Rachel Ray!

Steve
Steve

Ugh - hate to disagree, but I find her to an insufferable, annoying, female version of Guy Fieri. What's with her strange growling??

lisa
lisa

I hope she gets what she deserves.  All she does is make fun of other people, like the future celebrity food stars.  I hope Food Network gets rid of her, she just thinks that she's better than anyone else!

Lisa
Lisa

I disagree, I hate her recipes & I hate her too.  She's nothing but a big know it all.  Extremely belligerent!  Ugly too!

lisa
lisa

Let's just call Anne Burrell "SPIKEY" from now on,  She & Guy look like brother & sister, but only one difference, Guy's nicer.  Sorry Anne. 

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