For more on the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, check out New Times' Taste guide, hitting newsstands Thursday, February 21.
Anne Burrell is the Food Network's bubbly, blond ambassador of good times and great eats. A frequent face on the network, she's taken turns on Iron Chef America and Best Thing I Ever Ate, hosted Secrets of a Restaurant Chef, and just kicked off season four of Worst Cooks in America and season two of Chef Wanted With Anne Burrell. Her second cookbook is set to be released later this year (her first was a New York Times bestseller), and she's participating in a whole host of events at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival. She's kind of a dynamo.
When it comes to the nonstop food frenzy of the festival, this ain't Anne's first rodeo. She's a five-year veteran of the annual shindig, and her tenure has seen some memorable moments. Audiences aren't likely to forget when she sprayed a fellow Food Network star with prosecco or encouraged her audience to "spank your pork chops!"
We spoke to Burrell about her favorite bar in the 305, her relationship with Robert Irvine, and her obsession with karaoke.
New Times: In prepping for the SoBeWFF, what have your past years of experience taught you?
Anne Burrell: Oh my God, get a lot of sleep before I go because you don't get a ton when you're there. And it's always so fun; it's one of my favorite events of the year. Anywhere there's sun and fun, it's a little bit like spring break for chefs. Everyone's in a good mood, everyone's happy. There are so many fun parties! The sands are always great.
For the Delta Diamond Dishes event, what does your role as general manager consist of?
They haven't told me yet. I attend the party, hang out with all the chefs, and basically have a good time. I'm pretty good at that!
The event is A League of Their Own themed. Are you a baseball fan?
Well, I am a sporting events kind of girl. I'm not super-psyched about any one team. I go to hockey games, I go to New York Rangers games, but I'm not super-loyal to any one football team. If I had to choose a baseball team, I'd be a Yankees fan, but I love sporting events. The whole atmosphere! The junk food and the beer, and it's just always such a fun atmosphere.
Who would you like to meet at the festival that you haven't met before?
I think the only Food Network person that I haven't met is Ina Garten, but I don't really believe it's her scene.
Are you and all the Food Network chefs buddies?
It's really funny. It's not like we have the company Christmas party where we all hang out, but when everyone gets together, everyone's really happy to see each other. Everyone's so busy on the road that when you do get to see everyone, it's always a blast.
What was your favorite SoBeWFF moment of all time?
There are so many! Maybe when Robert Irvine came on my demo stage and I shook up a bottle of prosecco and sprayed it to get him off the stage. He and I have a little bit of a fun banter in our relationship.
If you could create and host any new event at SoBeWFF, what would it be?
Oh, Morimoto already does the karaoke one in New York -- that's what I would do. I'm a karaoke freak.
What's your favorite song to sing for karaoke?
I always start off with "Country Roads," a little John Denver action. I do some "Mr. Brightside" by the Killers.
In terms of picking top talent for Chef Wanted, what do you think is the most important quality in an awesome executive chef?
There's just a smattering of traits that chefs need to have, and you know, they range in ratio. But every chef really needs to be hard-working and passionate.
Tell me about your cookbook coming out this year.
I'm super-excited. It's coming out on October 15 -- 10-15-13. The last one, Cook Like a Rock Star, was my history as a girl chef, how I became a girl chef. This one is my journey as a girl chef.
What would you say to women looking to break into the biz?
Don't act like a girl -- don't. It's a tough business and the minute you start acting like a girl is the minute that you're not taken seriously. Work hard and love what you do. It's way too hard a business to not love what you do.
Ever think about going brunette?
I've never been dark, ever. Never, it's really funny, I don't know if I'd recognize myself.
Well, speaking from experience, I think blondes do have more fun.
I believe it! I have a lot of fun. If I had any more fun, I'd be in big trouble.
Where do you hang out while in Miami? Any places you look forward to visiting?
Definitely. I always try to make sure I swing by Club Deuce, one of the best dive bars ever. And I always make sure that I get to Michael's Genuine. I always try to hit Joe's Stone Crab too.
Any plans for any restaurants in the near future?
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Yes, actually, I've been missing being in restaurants so much. Being back in the kitchen with Chef Wanted, I'm like, I need to get back into restaurants. I have a bunch of ideas but nothing I'm ready to share yet.
Burrell will appear at the following SoBeWFF events:
- MasterCard Priceless Demo Pass at Whole Foods Market Grand Tasting Village: 2:15 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, February 23, at 13th Street and Ocean Drive, Miami Beach ($275)
- Creekstone Farms Presents Delta Diamond Dishes, A League of Their Own: 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday, February 23, at Marlins Park, 501 Marlins Way, Miami ($225).
- Florida Blue Presents Fun and Fit as a Family: 1:30 p.m. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, February 24, at Jungle Island, 1111 Parrot Jungle Trail, Miami ($20).