While average folks are pumped about the South Beach Wine & Food Fest for obvious, palate-related reasons, Anne Burrell has a different agenda. She is looking forward to tanning herself silly.
We’re talking sunbathing circa 1983, when few had a clue what the letters SPF stood for and you laid out on aluminum foil.
“Oh, I can’t wait,” Burrell says enthusiastically. “I’m scared they are going to stop making zero sunblock. I love the smell of Hawaiian Tropic. It makes me think of the beach. I want to be brown. A lobster!”
The Food Network personality, 45, is from upstate New York and knows all too well about cold weather.
“I always say I became a chef so I could be like a cat and curl up against the stove and keep warm all the time,” says Burrell, who lives in NYC. “Upstate is beautiful, but for me the winter is just too long, and there’s too much snow.”
But like many thick-blooded Northerners, she isn’t willing to give up the seasons just yet.
“I love my coats and my sweaters and boots,” she says. “I like to look outside and say, ‘What’s it doing today?’ If every day it were sunny I’d be like, Ugh. As much as I worship the sun, I don’t want to be that person who doesn’t appreciate the beach.”
So now we know what Burrell will be doing in her off time (Club Deuce is another must-stop), we had to inquire about working hours. First up, she’ll kick off the fest Feb. 19 by hosting Thrillist’s BBQ & The Blues, thrown by Thrillist.com, the online destination for guys in the know.
“The Shore Club is a super-fun venue, and there will be a whole bunch of barbecue chefs from all over the place,” she says of the event. “Big eats, big music.”
The Secrets of a Restaurant Chef star will also be doing a book signing at the Grand Tasting Village on Sunday. Own Your Kitchen is a collection of recipes Burrell picked up during her travels.
“It’s dishes I feel passionate about,” she says of her latest cookbook, “they all use what I call grocery store ingredients. Nothing crazy, so you don’t have to go foraging at a specialty market. Then when it’s done, you’ll say, ‘Wow, look at me. I’m a rock star!’”
Besides giving her autograph, Burrell, a former instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education in NYC, is likely to dispense a tip or two — and not in a harsh, Gordon Ramsay/Robert Irvine kind of way.
Is this the secret to her success as host of Worst Cooks in America?
“I have a way of teaching people without talking down to them. I’m accessible. I show you how to be successful and say, ‘Oh, I think I could do that.’ I really want home cooks to feel the joy that I feel.”
Although crazy busy, Burrell does find the time to cook — and shop. She even helps fellow market-goers with their grocery lists out in the aisles.
“I have inserted myself in situations, sure. Like, ‘Here, try this vinegar instead,’” the spiky haired kitchen goddess says. “Even if they don’t know who I am they’re like, Thanks!’”