When I sit down with my "bestie" Chef Anne Burrell, I know I am going to get the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth with a side order of genuine love and joy for what she does and the people she works to take to the next level of success. In a recent chat about food, hair products and all points in-between, I was reminded how much I enjoy her energy and how much I respect all she has accomplished with a sense of humility, but no apologies for taking the culinary world by storm.
Joshua Estrin: You are hailed as a superstar chef. Is that an added pressure to be a superstar?
Anne Burrell: Superstar? Wow that's a great deal of added pressure. I mean I'm not going to say I don't like the sound of it but wow... OK I can make it work!
JE: You have a way of infusing support and direction with a side order of "tough love." What exactly does tough love mean to you?
AB: I care about what I do and about the people who are doing what I do. I am also a chef so I understand what it takes... But yes, I am direct and honest and I learned a long time ago that to be successful you can't be a mind reader or play Twenty Questions. Part of being successful is about asking questions and listening to the answers. It is also about listening to what other people have to say and deciding what to keep and what to leave behind. Tough love is exactly what it sounds like... I don't love to be tough, but I do love to see how my willingness to be honest and direct can ignite the spark in someone else so I make no apologies for being a tough lover... wait is that the same thing? [She jokes.]
JE: Tell me about the second season of Chef Wanted.
AB: This season is exciting and from Puerto Rico to Hawaii and all points in between it is about good food and really talented chefs.
JE: What do you feel are the top three attributes of an exceptional executive chef?
AB: 1.) You need to be organized 2.) You need to be willing to work hard all the time and 3.) You need to be passionate about what you do. Did I mention you need to be organized? [She jokes.]
JE: It seems that your hair gets almost as much attention as your culinary skills -- why do you think in this day and age it attracts so much debate and discussion?
AB: I don't quite get it... the culinary arts have always attracted a band of misfits, but if people want to talk about my wacky hair have at it as I am sure they could find far worse things to say about me if they really wanted to.
JE: What do you think is the greatest misconception people have about you?
AB: Wow! That's a thinker... You didn't tell me I would have to field any hardcore thinker questions today (she jokes). I find people are surprised that I am who I am... The Anne you see on TV is me I don't have an on camera persona... I am simply me and I guess sometimes that freaks people out?
Superstar chef Anne Burrell does it again as she helps leading restaurants around the United States allow the cream to rise as they find their most valuable employee -- the executive chef. Chef Wanted with Anne Burrell premiers Thursday, January 31st at 10 p.m. ET/PT on the Food Network.