Ask the Chef

Q&A With Anne Burrell on Her New Cook Book, Cook Like a Rock Star

​How do you make a chef a rock star? Take one part classically trained chef, add in host of the Food Network's Secrets of a Restaurant Chef, and a dash of cohost of Worst Cooks in America, and you have the perfect recipe. 

You also have Anne Burrell, a celebrity chef who certainly knows what it takes to make it in the restaurant world. But, more importantly, she knows what it takes to be a rock star in any kitchen.

And, with a copy of her debut cookbook in hand, you can be a rock star, too. Well, at least within the confines of your kitchen. With 125 recipes, lessons, and culinary secrets, Cook Like a Rock Star will give you the confidence and ability to "make a meal without breaking a sweat." Yes, you'll never feel alone at the stove with Burrell by your side. 

And Burrell can actually be by your side this Tuesday, October 18, if you attend her book signing at Williams-Sonoma in the Gardens Mall in Palm Beach Gardens.

New Times had a chance to speak with Burrell about what went into cooking up the recipes found in Cook Like a Rock Star. Here's what she had to say:

Clean Plate Charlie: Tell us about how you learned to cook.

Anne Burrell: I graduated from the Culinary Institute of America, and then did a second stint at a culinary school in Italy to learn how to cook Italian food. My time in Italy really opened my eyes to a whole new world of food, cooking, and a way of life that I didn't even know existed. 

When I got back to the U.S., I headed straight to New York City -- where I'd always wanted to end up -- and was immediately drawn to Lidia Bastianich, the owner and chef of Felidia. I watched how she handled herself, her staff, and her food, and I learned a lot about how to be a girl chef in what is still mostly a man's world (and kitchen). And I learned that I liked being one of the only girls in the boys' club.

When did you decide you wanted to do a cookbook? 

I've always wanted to do a cookbook, but the possibility actually became real a couple of years ago. I saw the need for a book that would help empower beginner cooks with the confidence to own what they do in the kitchen, and to be excited about what they are making. Basically, to help others experience the same kind of joy I feel when I'm cooking and eating.

What are some of your favorite recipes from the book and why?

It's so hard for me to choose. I feel like the recipes are all my little babies. I love all the pastas, but especially like the "Big Brown Braised Short Ribs," or the "Lemon Curd Tart with Almond Crust." But I could never choose just one.

Name a few cooking techniques that are basics everyone can learn, but can really make a difference.

When you're in the kitchen, basic knife skills are super important. Most of all, working in an organized fashion, and getting all of your prep work done before you start makes all the difference. And have fun! Drink a glass of wine while you're cooking. 

Describe the person you envision using this book.

This book is for anybody who feels that they love food, love creating, love the craft and art of what happens in the kitchen, but needs a little guidance. All of my recipes are based on accessible ingredients and offer up handy professional tricks that will help you cook efficiently at home.

Being a rock star in the kitchen means having the confidence and ability to get a great meal on the table without breaking a sweat. With this book, even a novice cook can turn out a show-stoppers like whole roasted fish or a rack of lamb.

But, really, Cook Like a Rock Star is for anybody and everyone who wants to embrace it. 

KEEP NEW TIMES BROWARD-PALM BEACH FREE... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Nicole Danna is a Palm Beach County-based reporter who began covering the South Florida food scene for New Times in 2011. She also loves drinking beer and writing about the area's growing craft beer community.
Contact: Nicole Danna