The Untold Truth Of Anne Burrell

Anne Burrell and her spiky bleach blonde hair have been a mainstay on the Food Network since she joined Mario Batali on the "Iron Chef America" series in 2005. Since then, she's been a host and guest on several shows, including "Secrets of a Restaurant Chef" and "Worst Cooks In America." Burrell has a boisterous personality that matches the big flavors in her cooking. Prior to becoming a celebrity TV chef, Burrell got her start working at some of New York City's finest restaurants.

Burrell's rise from culinary student to restaurant chef to Food Network celebrity has been an interesting road. But she always seems up for a challenge and up to learn as much as she can about food, especially through eating it. She grew up in a small town in upstate New York where her passion for cooking began. And while her rise to culinary stardom wasn't exactly the path she had planned for, she's managed to turn cooking into her own culinary empire. 

If you're unfamiliar with Burrell's story, we took a deep dive into her past to find out how she became one of Food Network's most recognizable chefs. As well as the twists and turns throughout her personal life, beginning with her childhood. 

Anne Burrell has sported spiky hair since high school

Anne Burrell has always been known for her love of spiky, wild hair. It's her signature look that embodies her bold personality. According to Food Network, she's loved a spiky look since she was in high school. Her typical color is an icy bleach blonde, but she's been known to mix it up with pink tips. She even gave a step-by-step guide on how she creates her look on the Rachel Ray Show, which includes her dousing her damp hair with hair spray, combing it through, hitting it with a blow dryer, and using her hands to finish off the signature spiky style. 

According to the book "Anne Burrell" by Kathlyn Gay, the star has always been blonde, whether naturally or by keeping it bright with bleach. Anne says she's "always had wild hair — always, always" and attributes it to being a "child of the 80s." 

Anne Burrell's had a deep connection with Julia Child since she was a kid

According to Burrell, TV and cooking were heavy influences on her since she was a little girl. Particularly, according to a Q&A with Total Food Service, she watched Julia Child quite regularly during her childhood. "In my mom's words, I became a chef because I watched Julia when I was little," she said. According to a story with Diabetes Self Management, she even went as far as talking about the iconic chef, telling her mom about her "friend" Julia when she was little — referring to the world-renowned French chef on her TV screen. However, she doesn't give Child all the credit, adding that her mom was a major influence on her career as well. "Julia is a huge inspiration to me, but my mother was always a great cook and inspired me a lot," the Food Network personality explained. 

She became a chef after having a epiphany at age 23

While Anne Burrell has been fascinated with cooking since she was a child, she didn't always think of being a chef as a potential full-time career. In an interview with Food & Beverage magazine, she said she previously decided that she would get a career in the hospitality industry. "I was 23 and I had a rotten job. I had an epiphany and I remember everything about that moment; what I was wearing, what time of day it was and I told myself that I was way too young to be this miserable," Burrell said. 

Burrell says she decided to try out culinary school and "never looked back." So while it wasn't her first option, it looks as though it was meant to be. Especially because she particularly loves the hard work and creativity that is involved with being a chef.

Anne Burrell is a master at Italian cooking

After Burrell learned her culinary tricks and techniques in the classroom, she decided to head into the field to get some hands-on training about Italian cuisine. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, Burrell made the trip over to Italy where she spent a year studying at the Italian Culinary Institute for Foreigners, learning all about the "culinary landscape and traditions of Italy." In addition to studying abroad, Burrell also worked at La Taverna del Lupo and La Bottega del' 30, the latter which is a one-Michelin star restaurant in Tuscany. So she got hands-on experience in Italian cuisine both in and out of the classroom. 

So her beloved bolognese recipe, which is highly rated on the Food Network website is truly a labor of love. And it's the culmination of all the things she was able to learn by immersing herself in Italian culture and learning from the professionals before officially starting her cooking career in the U.S.

Her first U.S. restaurant job was as a sous chef at Felidia

After upping her Italian culinary knowledge in Italy, Burrell returned to the U.S. ready to show off her chops. According to Food Network, her first job was as a sous chef at New York City's Felidia, which was owned by another Food Network regular — Lidia Bastianich. That connection undoubtedly helped Burrell's career, as Bastianich has been a staple chef in the Italian-American cuisine space since the '90s, when she first appeared on TV cooking shows. 

Since opening in the early 1980s, Bastinaich's Manhattan flagship restaurant has received extremely high praise, becoming one of the city's most iconic fine-dining institutions. So it definitely wasn't a bad place for Burrell to get her foot in the door and learn the ins and outs of the New York City restaurant scene from someone who is not only an amazing chef and respected restaurant owner, but understood the TV cooking world as well. 

Mario Batali kickstarted Anne Burrell's TV career

While Bastianich was instrumental in helping Burrell kickstart her career, now-disgraced chef Mario Batali propelled it to new heights. Burrell began working with Batali when she was appointed as a chef for Italian Wine Merchants, his wine store/event space he owned with Lidia Bastianich's son Joseph V. Bastianich. After that, Batali was the first person to get Burrell cooking in front of a camera. She joined Batali as a sous chef for the pilot taping of Food Network's "Iron Chef America" in 2005. And the rest was history.

In an interview with Canisius College Magazine, Burrell expressed her shock at being selected. "Why he asked me, out of the hundreds of people who worked for him, I never questioned it and I never looked back," Burrell said. From then on, she's been a "Food Network" staple ever since, thanks to Batali taking a chance on her.

She previously taught at the Institute of Culinary Education

Earlier in her career, Burrell took a sabbatical from the restaurant world to teach at the Institute of Culinary Eduation for three years. In an interview with Restaurant Girl, Burrell said being burnt out from working in commercial kitchens led her to pursue teaching. "I needed a change of scenery, but something still involved with cooking and it definitely made me a better cook," Burrell said. The stint helped her perfect her techniques and figure out the next step she wanted to take with her cooking career. 

In the interview with Food & Beverage magazine, Burrell gave the advice to aspiring chefs to learn — and eat — as much as they possibly can, something she has experience with. Her stints in culinary school, both as a student and a teacher, as well as her career in the restaurant industry, were evidence of her drive to become an expert in the culinary field. 

Anne Burrell can reportedly be tough to work with

While Anne Burrell's loud personality shines through the TV, sometimes, it might go a bit overboard in a work environment. Eater reports that Burrell was sued for discrimination back in 2009 for derogatory comments she allegedly made toward female employees while working at NYC's Centro Vinoteca. The array of alleged remarks were particularly sexist and aimed at female workers, and are disheartening to hear about. 

As for on TV, pointed out that some "jabs" she's made to contestants on "Worst Cooks In America" about their presentation, appearance, and cooking techniques, can come off as harsh at times. Obviously not as intense as the alleged derogatory comments, but it has to add to the pressure of working with her. 

And in a letter sent to, a fan recounts a time that they took their daughter to visit Burrell. Burrell allegedly gave "snippy and condescending" answers to fans' questions and left much to be desired, insinuating that working with her on appearances probably isn't be a piece of cake. 

Anne Burrell met her fiance on Bumble

As far as her personal life goes, Burrell celebrated getting engaged to her fiance Stuart Claxton during April 2020 in her hometown of Cazenovia, New York, where they were sheltering in place during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to People, the pair actually met on the dating app Bumble. According to Burrell, the pair "both knew immediately" that they were meant to be together for the long haul. 

While Burrell has never previously been married, she was previously engaged to a chef, Koren Grieveson. Burrell has never made "secret" of her sexuality, according to Page Six, after speculation that she was outed on a radio show by "Chopped" host Ted Allen. However, her engagement to Grieveson did not last, and Burrell's rep had referred to her former partner as a "very private woman," so it wasn't a relationship paraded in the press.

She had a restaurant disaster of her own

While Burrell has seen plenty of success throughout her career, it hasn't been without a few blunders like any businessperson experiences. Burrell opened a Brooklyn restaurant in May 2017 with her partner Phil Casaceli, dubbed Phil & Anne's Good Time Lounge. While the restaurant was a hit with its patrons, a disagreement between Casaceli and Burrell made "running a restaurant impossible," Burrell's representative told Page Six (via Eater). Apparently, Burrell claimed that Casaceli was not cooperating with sitting down and working out their issues. But Casaceli fired back that Burrell was the one having issues communicating properly. 

The New York Daily News wrote that Casaceli blamed Burrell for shutting down the restaurant without his knowledge. He claimed to have felt "used" by Burrell who took charge due to her "celebrity" status, pushing him aside after he dealt with licenses and permits involved with opening a business. Regardless of who's side is correct, it's clear this business partnership's lack of harmony got in the way of running a successful storefront. 

Anne Burrell absolutely hates salmon

While any good chef will tell you that it's important to try not only the food you make, but a wide variety of foods in general to expand your palate, Burrell has a few things she just refuses to eat. In an interview with People, she discussed her dislike for two popular ingredients: salmon and blue cheese. "I can taste both of them and understand if the dish is prepared well, but I will never sit down and eat salmon. Ever," she said. 

While she may not be a fan of these ingredients, that doesn't mean Anne Burrell won't use the ingredients in her own recipes. Just doing a quick search on Food Network's website reveals, Burrell's recipes for "Grilled Salmon with Herb and Meyer Lemon Compound Butter" and "Chive Pancakes with Gorgonzola and Bacon." Despite not liking the fish, she has said that she wished she was someone who could sit down and enjoy salmon. "I wish I liked it. I mean, it's good for you," she added.