We don't know for sure if she was in fact toasted upon arrival to her own event. Anne Burrell brought fun to the table so, who cares? Yesterday, we took part in the Barilla-sponsored interactive lunch with the Iron Chef season four runner-up. Was the food good? Well, that depended on who was cooking at your table. Was Anne Burrell a terrific hostess? Maybe we should thank her ever-present white wine on the rocks, but yeah, you better believe it.
About 20 tables scattered The Biltmore ballroom, each having a "sous chef," portable stove, and cooking utensils. Nervous Coral Gables Senior High students from the culinary academy acted as sous chefs while those brave enough to stand the heat volunteered to cook each course under each stage chefs' direction.
First came Lorenzo Boni, Chef Manager of Barilla North America, who cooked on stage as guests tried their best to mimic his every move.
For the appetizer, mezze rigatoni with cherry tomatoes. Alejandra Contenti courageously volunteered to make onion, sea bass, tomatoes and fish stock edible at our table. Accompanied by her mom and two friends, Contenti and our table's sous chef, Randy, whipped up a surprisingly pleasant first course. Chef Boni meanwhile made jokes as he cooked on stage, poking fun at his heavy (but otherwise sexy) Italian accent.
He mentioned how he didn't know what to think when they said Food Network's Worst Cooks in America host Anne Burrell was going to be partnering with him for the lunch event. "Are they trying to tell me something?" he mused out loud. Needless to say, we never found out how his pasta and sea bass turned out. No one tried it.
Burrell made quite an entrance (again, we don't know for sure if she had already dipped into the booze when she arrived). She was just really happy, like a tipsy-happy. Overly gelled platinum blonde hair in tow, she was all smiles and waves. Guests were excited to see her, it took almost ten minutes for them to finally settle down before she could start her segment.
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To cook, Burrell planned pork milanese with escarole salad and pickled red onions. Perhaps it was Randy and volunteer chef Bruce Hunter that made it so delicious but the food was outrageously tasty.
She peppered her part of the meal with quick-witted jokes and lots of "chin chins". She also went on a rant about how salt is underused in cooking. "Screw your cardiologist," she shouted to us.
"Spank your pork chops, spank 'em!" became a regular phrase from her as she cooked hers on stage. She encouraged guests to ask questions and because every event has to have that guy, one asked her about losing to Geoffrey Zakarian on Next Iron Chef. "I'm almost over it... almost," she joked.