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Secrets of a Restaurant Chef: Anne Burrell Tells All!


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#61

lvmb123

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Posted Jul 7, 2008 @ 9:39 PM

Sea salt, especially the large flake variety is very salty, though it's not so much the taste as the flake size. You can't exchange it on a 1:1 basis. I use fine sea salt in my everyday cooking, but far less of it than table salt (which I hate, I can taste the additives) or kosher salt.

As a former restaurant chef I can tell you they really do use that much salt in cooking. When you get a salad in a restaurant, the salad dressing, individual components and the greens have all been salted separately. In this one place I worked, we did a potato and celery root gratin. Loads of salt and cream went into it, far, far more than I'd ever use at home. And pasta is often cooked in water that's so salty, it's unpleasant to taste unless you like drinking sea water.

The tomato paste, though, in the Bolognese...I'm not really sure about that. Tomato paste has a very cooked to me. I make my Bolognese sauce with canned whole tomatoes (not from Italy, it may be heresy but so far as I'm concerned, the best tomatoes are Muir Glen organics). I also finish mine with a little milk during the last 45 minutes or so. Molly Stevens, in her recent, excellent book on braising, is also a big fan of really carmelizing the veg and meat. She also says you can't skip on that step, so I'm kind of surprised by how little Hazan cooks her fond in the link below.

The cooking times should have been included. Items are not timed in a restaurant like they are at home (in fact, ask a chef when something will be done, and he/she will tell you "when it's done"), but since the show is geared to home cooking, it would be helpful.

bursell - if you kept adding water, you were diluting the salt. That's why you season so heavy in the beginning.

I like Anne, she reminds me of many of the people I worked with in my restaurant days. You have to keep in mind, normal people really don't work in restaurants - what perfectly normal person would work the insanely long hours (which means you have a really weird social life) being paid barely above minimum wage in a hot, airless box doing something extremely hard and repetitive hour after hour? Anne's now an executive chef where the money is not bad but the restaurant world culture is what it is. It tends to attract a more quirky sort of person than, say, working in an investment bank, like I do now.

Edited by lvmb123, Jul 7, 2008 @ 9:43 PM.


#62

jellywager

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Posted Jul 7, 2008 @ 10:22 PM

You have to keep in mind, normal people really don't work in restaurants - what perfectly normal person would work the insanely long hours (which means you have a really weird social life) being paid barely above minimum wage in a hot, airless box doing something extremely hard and repetitive hour after hour? Anne's now an executive chef where the money is not bad but the restaurant world culture is what it is


That is why I never used my culinary arts degree. Cooking in a resturant is so very different than cooking at home. I think cooking in a resturant is sort of like factory work.

ITA bursell, the amount of time that goes into the sauce is not really worth it once I tasted the sauce.

#63

bursell

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Posted Jul 7, 2008 @ 11:04 PM

lvmb123, I know adding water dilutes the salt. But you also reduce throughout the recipe and add more water, reduce, etc. I'm not sure what percentage of the total water added is lost through evaporation. I'm probably overestimating how much of the water is lost through the cooking process.

#64

lvmb123

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Posted Jul 8, 2008 @ 8:04 PM

I'm not sure what percentage of the total water added is lost through evaporation. I'm probably overestimating how much of the water is lost through the cooking process.


I don't think you're overestimating. Bolognese sauce should be pretty dry. Most of the liquid should be evaporated by the time it's done.

I'm not defending her use of salt, for all I know she may have used too much, but a lot of salt is something I recognize from my restaurant days and she's a restaurant chef. In that setting, if there is any doubt as to if a dish needs more salt, oil or butter, more salt, oil or butter is added.

Some chefs also think salt loses some of its flavor during a long cooking. I'm not sure I buy into this, I can't really think of what the science is behind that (where is Alton Brown when you need him) but as a fan of braising (every Sunday dinner in my house from October though April is basically a braised dish), I can tell you the flavor of the braising liquid is always a little dull at the end of a long cooking. I will almost always add more salt and a splash of vinegar or citrus juice to fix that. I'm not sure if that would be different if you front loaded the salt.

Most of the time, though, I find the cooks on FN under season, simply throwing a pinch of salt into a dish at the very end. That's also very wrong and bugs me to no end. To taste properly seasoned, food needs salt throughout the cooking process. Anne may use too much salt for some (and salt is a personal thing), but her basic idea about tasting and not being over-shy about the seasoning as you go along is right.

#65

MaryBellJo

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Posted Jul 8, 2008 @ 9:12 PM

Most of the time, though, I find the cooks on FN under season, simply throwing a pinch of salt into a dish at the very end


I honestly don't know of which FN cooks you speak. Ina, Giada, Bobby, Emeril, ScreechRay et al throw in palm fulls of salt with every layer of "flavor". Seriously, who are you talking about?

#66

flotsette

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Posted Jul 8, 2008 @ 11:24 PM

I always loved Anne on ICA so when I saw the ad for her show I made sure to add it to the Tivo. But man, I'm 7 min into the lamb show and here are my thoughts:

1. She took the leg of lamb and .... whacked it in half. Never explained why. Actually it looks like she'll do a pan browning so maybe that is why, but, she didn't explain.


2. She didn't use the hand guard on the mandoline to slice the garlic, just emphasized the extreme danger. Never mentioned the possibility of a hand guard.


3. She washed her hands after handling the lamb, then chopped raw veg on the same board. I know in this case all the veg is cooked so it'll be okay, but.... ewwwww! Still seems like bad form, why wasn't there another clean cutting board to swap out?

4. I loved her "let it go" comment about the artichokes, but I couldn't really see if she had started with a large one or a baby one. And I would have liked more detail on the trim she did.

It just seems like everything I *don't* know about what she's doing, she didn't tell me. Everything else, I already knew from every other show on this channel!

Edited by flotsette, Jul 8, 2008 @ 11:30 PM.


#67

bursell

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Posted Jul 9, 2008 @ 9:22 AM

I cringed when she was slicing the garlic with the mandoline. I was waiting for her to lop off a finger or something. I'm sure that's how it's used in a professional kitchen, but still...

It was a small artichoke she was using, but it would have been nice if she at least mentioned something about removing the choke on larger ones.

#68

toolazy

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Posted Jul 9, 2008 @ 1:20 PM

3. She washed her hands after handling the lamb, then chopped raw veg on the same board. I know in this case all the veg is cooked so it'll be okay, but.... ewwwww! Still seems like bad form, why wasn't there another clean cutting board to swap out?


I'd have to watch this again to make sure, but I'm almost certain that she had a smaller wooden cutting board on which she did the lamb which then went into the sink and she did the veg on a bigger board that was underneath the little one.

#69

FlufferNutter

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Posted Jul 9, 2008 @ 3:02 PM

3. She washed her hands after handling the lamb, then chopped raw veg on the same board. I know in this case all the veg is cooked so it'll be okay, but.... ewwwww! Still seems like bad form, why wasn't there another clean cutting board to swap out?


Yep, she sure did. She cut everything on her big butcher block cutting board and she didn't even bother to wipe it off after the lamb. There was a clean plastic cutting board within reach, but she placed the tied-up lamb rolls on it instead using it for the veggies.

#70

DuckyinKy

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Posted Jul 9, 2008 @ 4:31 PM

I'm finding that I love her - I'm going to try the bolognese as soon as it cools down here (which might be, uh, December? I hate the Ohio Valley when it comes to heat) but I'll have to watch very closely again to see what wine to use. I don't drink and don't have any alcohol in the house so that will be a new experience to me.

I think I was surprised at her...personality. On ICA, she's so subdued or at least she's seemed that way to me. That's why with the over the top hand gestures took me by surprised. I finally worked past it - I'm looking forward to the next episode.

I honestly don't know of which FN cooks you speak. Ina, Giada, Bobby, Emeril, ScreechRay et al throw in palm fulls of salt with every layer of "flavor". Seriously, who are you talking about?


Robin Miller comes to mind...as does Ellie Krieger.

#71

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Posted Jul 9, 2008 @ 5:33 PM

I think I was surprised at her...personality. On ICA, she's so subdued or at least she's seemed that way to me. That's why with the over the top hand gestures took me by surprised.


Interestingly, I saw an interview with her (I think it's somewhere on youtube) and she was pretty subdued as well, although you could see she likes to talk with her hands. So the question is are we seeing the real Anne, or did FN tell her to amp up her personality as part of her "culinary point of view" (credit to Bob Tuschman)

#72

chemprof

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Posted Jul 9, 2008 @ 6:35 PM

I like Anne, she reminds me of many of the people I worked with in my restaurant days. You have to keep in mind, normal people really don't work in restaurants - what perfectly normal person would work the insanely long hours (which means you have a really weird social life) being paid barely above minimum wage in a hot, airless box doing something extremely hard and repetitive hour after hour?


Heh...sounds like graduate school in chemistry, except you don't get to eat the results (well, I know the chef doesn't either...but at least someone does).

Topic? I thought this had potential. I look forward to seeing more, especially once Anne settles down a bit. The "erl" thing has got to go, though, unless I find out she's really from Georgia or similar.

#73

hindymom

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Posted Jul 9, 2008 @ 7:24 PM

The "erl" thing has got to go, though, unless I find out she's really from Georgia or similar.


She said in the second show that she's from upstate New York. Maybe she learned it from her parents? I really hope she's not just making fun of the way people talk.

#74

Beccadawg

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Posted Jul 9, 2008 @ 10:38 PM

The "erl" thing has got to go, though, unless I find out she's really from Georgia or similar.

Ahem, I'm from Georgia and nobody down here talks like that ;-)

#75

ellyd

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Posted Jul 9, 2008 @ 10:42 PM

Even Paula doesn't talk like that. She says "Ole" or something like that. "Erl" reminds me of Archie Bunker saying "terlet".

#76

chemprof

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Posted Jul 10, 2008 @ 8:10 AM

Points well taken, Beccadawg and ellyd. Whatever she's trying to do with the pronuciation, it sounds really affected, and I wish she'd stop!

#77

attica finch

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Posted Jul 10, 2008 @ 9:15 AM

"Erl" is without question an outer-borough-New-Yorkism, but one that's fast fading from common usage. So, I take Anne's use of it as a mispronunciation for comic effect, much like Bugs Bunny would call somebody a 'maroon' when he meant 'moron.' I don't think she's making fun of the way people talk; I think she's having fun with words.

#78

toolazy

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Posted Jul 10, 2008 @ 4:15 PM

My dad had a pretty pronounced New Orleans yat accent and he said "erl." I don't think he said "terlet" because my mother would have abused him mercilessly but I heard other people say it. Of course, real New Orleans accents are very similar to Brooklyn accents.

#79

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Posted Jul 10, 2008 @ 4:33 PM

Maybe I'm a little slow on the uptake, but it took me a few times before I could figure out what the heck she was talking about with the "erl/earl" thing. I've never heard it said like that, even as a joke/exaggeration (born & raised in California, if that makes a difference). I think during the first show, she referred to the tray of asparagus as where I "erled them up" and I thought I missed some new cooking method. No clue that she was talking about oil until later in that episode. Like I said though, maybe I'm just slow on the uptake.

Edited by Gale_Star, Jul 10, 2008 @ 4:33 PM.


#80

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Posted Jul 11, 2008 @ 5:43 AM

I think I was surprised at her...personality. On ICA, she's so subdued or at least she's seemed that way to me. That's why with the over the top hand gestures took me by surprised.


Anne's actually the only sous chef on ICA to display any type of personality on the show, occasionally joking with Alton Brown about gardening when cutting up flowering chives, or spraying her hair with cooking spray. All of the others present themselves as impassive culinary robots.

#81

lvmb123

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Posted Jul 11, 2008 @ 5:38 PM

I honestly don't know of which FN cooks you speak. Ina, Giada, Bobby, Emeril, ScreechRay et al throw in palm fulls of salt with every layer of "flavor". Seriously, who are you talking about?


All of the above mentioned people come from the professional cooking/restaurant world except Rachel. That goes back to my point that restaurant/professional chefs use a lot of salt. Watch those who are without that kind of background. They use far too little salt.

Restaurants are a margin business where most of the money is made on drinks and wine, the ROI on food is very small. Salt is a very cheap way to add flavor, that's why restaurant cooks use a lot of it.

As for the whole "earl"/oil thing; I am from Brooklyn. Many of my older relatives say "earl" but I also have family that lives in a few small towns about an hour north of Albany, they also say "earl." Anne said she was from a small town in upstate NY - maybe it's a regional thing, though I don't rule out my family is just crazy.

Heh...sounds like graduate school in chemistry, except you don't get to eat the results


Cooking and chemistry are related specialties. In fact, when you go to culinary school, you learn what is happening chemically to food when you cook it, not just a bunch of recipes. The idea is if you know what happens to protein when a specific heating method is applied to it, you can cook any kind of protein in the way you want. And, like a mad scientist let lose in the lab, don't think I haven't blown a thing or two up. If you've ever wondered if you really, really need to put steam vents in potatoes you're going to roast whole, trust me you do.

Edited by lvmb123, Jul 11, 2008 @ 5:41 PM.


#82

MaryBellJo

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Posted Jul 11, 2008 @ 6:07 PM

Thanks, lvmb123, I was really wondering about the whole "salt" thing.

FN cooks don't seem to worry about sodium, which is supposedly a big problem in the American diet. (I'm discounting Pauler here, since her meals are tailor made for the American Heart Association to use as a big "don't" in their materials.)

Edited by MaryBellJo, Jul 11, 2008 @ 6:07 PM.


#83

lvmb123

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Posted Jul 11, 2008 @ 7:01 PM

FN cooks don't seem to worry about sodium, which is supposedly a big problem in the American diet.


I think sodium from processed foods is most often the culprit. I have to think that Anne's dishes, even if she is a little heavy handed, are far less sodium heavy than a Sandra Lee meal with her flavor packets, bottled salad dressing and other crimes against food that she commits. Those kinds of things are chocked full of salt. You can easily be talking 1,500 - 2,000 grams of sodium for an entire flavor packet. Anne is a salt amateur compared to that.

#84

kizia

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Posted Jul 11, 2008 @ 7:28 PM

hi, i'm a newbie here. lvmb123 - i really appreciate your posts, you explain things well - whether they seem obvious or not. generous use of salt and butter/cream/oil are pretty obvious in restaurant cooking, even though it seems people don't really want to know about it. you're so right about processed foods. guess it's pretty brave to go on tv and show people how's it's done in a professional kitchen and risk the outrage. over at Cooking Light forums, people are having a collective heart attack just looking at how much salt and oil Anne uses, lol, and i'm not even joking.

i like Anne's show a lot - i do not watch FN much except for ICA when Mario is on or maybe an interesting challenger but i absolutely love things like her using the cooking spray on her hair. i guess i like flamboyant and quirky. (ok, i watch the Next FN Star too, although the track record is pretty sad of the past few seasons, except for Guy Fieri. this season is pretty unexciting too.)

i'm an enthusiastic but not very experienced cook and Anne's show is very encouraging and fun to watch. i wish there were a bit more detail on cooking times and what to look for when a dish it's done but at least the recipes on FN's site are more specific - except for salt, which, clearly, is to taste. seeing how easy it is, i actually poached eggs for the first time and very successfully so! i'm totally going to tackle that bolognese when it gets colder, too.

#85

lvmb123

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Posted Jul 12, 2008 @ 7:35 PM

kizia - thanks! I think that unless you've worked in the food business, you just don't know how it really is, though that's true of every industry, I mean, what do I know about coal mining? I live in New York City and when I was in the business, I worked in high-end restaurants. Anne really reminds me of the chefs I knew back then. Her mannerisms do kind of bug me, but I can forgive someone who knows how to cook a lot! I love leg of lamb and her dish last week looked scrumptious. It's on my when the weather gets cool list for sure.

#86

terris2030

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Posted Jul 13, 2008 @ 8:41 AM

Just a little squicked out, listening to her talk about ''lubing'' up her chicken.

Did she just start cutting potatoes on the same cutting board she prepared the chickens on? The herb paste is still sitting there, and I didn't see any change out.

What's with the FN and all the rings? Why doesn't someone talk to the hosts about them?

#87

MaryBellJo

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Posted Jul 13, 2008 @ 9:02 AM

I'm not impressed. She comes across as a complete amateur on camera, even though there are nuggets of wisdom to be gleaned from her teenaged style of speaking.

And really, I don't need another FN chef showing me how to make mashed potatoes or roast a chicken.

#88

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Posted Jul 13, 2008 @ 9:13 AM

Did she just start cutting potatoes on the same cutting board she prepared the chickens on? The herb paste is still sitting there, and I didn't see any change out.

What's with the FN and all the rings? Why doesn't someone talk to the hosts about them?


Nope, the chickens were on a pink board, she removed that and cut the potatoes on a wooden one underneath.

Simple but tasty recipe, and I don't think, as simple as it is, that I would have thought of flipping the chickens over to brown the underneath. The mash looked a little soupy for my taste, but then I like mine rustic and barely mashed so ricing isn't something I do. I might be tempted to get a food mill just for that reason. I did gasp at the amount of salt she used, but if you went to a restaurant and the food tasted bland, you wouldn't eat there again, and I have never been to a restaurant where the food is *over* salted, so I think she knows what she's doing, and showing us a "secret" we might not want to know but need to know.

I like Anne - I think the personality is all hers, and I wish someone who knows her personally would post, because I bet she's an absolute hoot in person. On a purely catty note, I wish someone at the FN would employ a wardrobe stylist who doesn't think that emphasizing women's figure flaws is a good plan. The girl has a middle - most of us past 30 do, but seeing it encased in spandex is not flattering and it bugs the crap out of me, as does when they do it to Rachael and her lack of assets. Ahem. There...snark over.

#89

Bob War

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Posted Jul 13, 2008 @ 9:15 AM

She did most of the work on the wooden cutting board; her chickens were already on a pink plastic board, which she put on top on the wooden board and and worked on them from there, so I didn't see her use the same board for both.

LOVED this show! I love that she not only obviously knows what she's doing, she really loves food, you know? I mean, I guess they all love food or they wouldn't be on TFN, but Anne seems to LOVE it, like the way she mooned over the roasted beets in the beet salad. She didn't have a Giada-type food orgasm, but you could tell she just thought it was awesome.

I like the tips, she explains why something is done and it makes sense. I don't know how many times I've heard you should truss a chicken, and I know I should, but I don't think I've ever heard why. Well, now I know it brings the leg/thigh up and over part of the breast, so it not only protects it from being too dry, it exposes the dark meat to more heat so it cooks faster and the breast doesn' dry out. I totally get that. And rotating the chicken to breast side down also protects it from drying out. I probably should have caught that before, but just never did.

Her speaking, mannerisms, etc., don't bother me at all because they seem genuine and organic, not manufactured for affect.

Finally... a new Food Network show I really, really like.

ETA: Ima Pilgrim, I noticed the attire as well, but strangely I didn't mind it. She's not a skinny mini, but I feel like she's more than okay with that or she wouldn't wear the clothes. Meaning, she seems very comfortable with herself and it was refreshing to see, at least for me.

Edited by Bob War, Jul 13, 2008 @ 9:25 AM.


#90

terris2030

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Posted Jul 13, 2008 @ 9:35 AM

I like the tips, she explains why something is done and it makes sense.


I liked that part, too.