Anne Burrell On The Fun Of Worst Cooks In America - Exclusive Interview

With so many resources at our disposal, from cookbooks to Food Network and the endless stream of recipes, videos, and hacks to be found on social media, home cooks have never had more opportunities to learn new skills and hone in on their homemade creations. However, there will always be some of us out there who can't seem to make magic happen in the kitchen beyond bowls of cereal and instant mac and cheese. That's where Anne Burrell comes in. The unsung hero of all the worst cooks out there, the chef and TV personality is known for her passion for teaching in the kitchen — always with a side of sass.

Mashed got the chance to chat with Burrell at the Food Network New York City Wine and Food Festival presented by Capital One, and we quickly caught up with her about the latest season of "Worst Cooks in America" and who she'd like to see on the show. We also couldn't resist picking her brain about everyone's favorite recipe of Burrell's — her pasta Bolognese.

Anne Burrell shares the secret to perfecting her famous pasta Bolognese

You're well known for being a master of Italian cooking, particularly that famous pasta Bolognese recipe. What is the secret to getting this dish right?

It's so interesting — the "Secrets of a Restaurant Chef" Bolognese episode was the very first episode of that show I ever did, and it is still the number one dish that people come up and tell me they make all the time. That and the short ribs. Apparently people like big meats.

The thing about a Bolognese is it takes a little bit of work to get started. You have to take your time to go through all the stuff — browning the sofrito, browning meat, browning the tomato paste. Then it's add water and reduce, add water and reduce. It's a dance, and the life cycle of the Bolognese, to see where it starts and where it finishes, is so soulful. If you're going to make it, make a big pot so you can freeze it and you have it.

The celebrities Anne Burrell wants to see on Worst Cooks in America

What were some of the wildest or funniest moments for you filming the most recent celebrity season of "Worst Cooks in America"?

We've done a lot of celebrity seasons, but it's celebrities. They're just like us. They're bad cooks, too. I'm not, but they are.

Do you think there are going to be more celebrity seasons in the future?

Whether there are more celebrity or regular — what we call "civilian" — seasons, I don't care. I'm just happy to teach people how to cook.

If there is one celebrity you could bring on, who would it be?

Gosh, who would I like to hang out with? I would like to be friends with Amy Schumer, but she has a chef husband, so she doesn't need to be on my show. Jennifer Lawrence — she seems so kooky and fun, and she seems real, and I like that.

It'd bring "Hunger Games" vibes to the set.

I feel that going into every season of "Worst Cooks."

After more than two dozen seasons of doing this show, do you think that people are generally getting better or worse?

People have more interest in food, and I feel like people want to get better, so that's why they keep coming to me. I don't know if people are getting better. I know we have lots of worst cooks still, and I will take them on one worst cook at a time.

I spoke with Robert Irvine earlier, and he told me that I had to ask you specifically about working with him.

Robert is a good egg. He really is. He cares about what he does, he tries really hard, and I believe the last time he was on the show, he won. That puts us at a tie. If he ever wants to man up and come back and try it on again, welcome back.

Anne Burrell says hosting with Jeff Mauro means lots of laughs

What is it like getting to work so closely with Jeff Mauro on this season of "Worst Cooks"? What have been the most memorable moments from that?

Jeff and I have great chemistry because we're also friends outside of work. It's not to say that I'm not friends with other people outside of work, but we're in constant contact. We text; I just did his podcast, with Jeff and I and both of our sisters, so it was a sibling thing. It was really fun. 

Jeff is fun, and he likes to sing karaoke, as do I. We sometimes get a little musical on set, but he is always game for anything, up for a good time, and a very good cook.

Who's cracking the most jokes out of the two of you usually?

I try to get them in, but he has so many that I find myself laughing.

Who are you excited to see at the NYCWFF this year?

The wonderful thing about these festivals is that you get to see all the people, your colleagues and friends, peers, et cetera, that you don't get to see on a regular basis. The camaraderie is really fun. That's also what's nice about this festival, that it happens in New York in the fall, which is always such a happy time. People are coming back and everyone's happy to see each other after being scattered for the summer. It's good feels.

For the latest from chef Anne Burrell, follow her on Instagram. Plus, click here to learn more about the annual Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival Presented by Capital One, and be sure to check out the highlights from this year's event.

This interview was edited for clarity.