Remember the good old days when Food Network’s programming used to be comprised almost completely of instructional shows hosted by professional chefs? It seems like such an obvious formula for giving cooking wannabes, enthusiasts, and experts exactly what they want, and back in the late-'90s and early 2000s, Food Network had it down.
It was very much like MTV in its infancy: nonstop unadulterated awesomeness. Unfortunately, just like MTV, Food Network slowly eroded into a clumsy and lackluster mishmash of shows having little to do with cooking and more to do with diner gorging, mass-produced commodity foodstuff, product placement, and “reality” cooking competitions. At least there’s no Snooki, but it just isn’t what it used to be.
Fortunately, there are still a few professional chefs sharing the tools of their trade with viewers on Food Network. Tops among them is Anne Burrell, a disciple of Mario Batali who stood out as part of that Iron Chef’s support team to the point where she the network awarded her her own show. It’s called Secrets of a Restaurant Chef and has lasted several seasons, despite the fact that little time is devoted to cooking shows on the network anymore.
It’s a shame, because since getting past her first awkward season in front of the camera, Anne Burrell has been the best throwback to the days when Food Network was what it was always meant to be and should have remained. Her entertaining lessons on making everything from home-made pasta to semifreddo is enough to forgive her participation in the unappetizing and lame reality competition, Worst Cooks in America.
Burrell's endearing I’m-a-pro-but-anyone-can-do-it attitude has been captured in her first cookbook, Cook Like A Rock Star: 125 Recipes, Lessons, and Culinary Secrets. The focus of that work is on recipes that are uncomplicated, created using ingredients home chefs can actually get their hands on.
She of the gaudy clogs and ashen spiked ‘do will be at the Williams-Sonoma store in Fashion Valley, Tuesday, October 11 at 11 a.m., shaking hands and signing her book. Williams-Sonoma is located at 7007 Friars Road in the Fashion Valley Mall.
Pictured: Anne Burrell