Chef Anne Burrell has a lot to be excited about -- she's launching two TV shows in the next month, and, even more significantly, recently got engaged to partner and fellow chef Koren Grieveson. Anne dishes to ET about her wedding plans (or current lack thereof due to her busy Food Network schedule) and Thursday night's season two premiere of Chef Wanted.
Anne, 43, who announced her engagement on Twitter on New Year's Eve of last year, tells ET, "We got engaged and then I've been on the road, so it's kind of like, 'Hi Sweetie, nice to see you, I'll see you when I get back.' I feel like I've been home long enough to unpack and pack again and maybe take a quick nap, and then I'm off to the airport again."
Anne does reveal what kind of wedding they may have, and where it might end up being: "We have to talk about it, I think we're thinking of a destination wedding, maybe in Vieques, [Puerto Rico]. That's where we got engaged, and the first time we ever traveled together was to [Vieques], so it's kind of a special spot for us."
More immediately, Anne has the premiere of the second season of her Food Network show, Chef Wanted, coming up tonight at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Food Network. Read on for her Q & A about the show which travels the country putting contestants through the ringer to help restaurants find their most valuable employee – the executive chef.
ETonline: What was your experience when you got your first executive chef job?
Anne: Well, I was kind of scared to death, and then I realized, I was like, 'Oh my gosh, the buck stops with me, I am in charge of everything,' and I realized that everyone was [always] like, 'Chef! Chef! Chef!' … And then once I really got my first menu put it place, I was just looking around, and I was like, 'Oh my gosh, all these people are working toward my vision of this food,' and it was just so thrilling and exciting to me.
ETonline: Would you say that your experience of getting that job was harder or easier than what the contestants on the show will experience?
Anne: Oh my gosh, what the chefs have to do on this show is like, the hardest thing ever. I've never seen such a hard job interview for a chef.
ETonline: When you see the creative solutions that the chefs come up with on the show, do you ever learn anything that you then apply to your own cooking?
Anne: I believe that there is always something new to learn, in fact, that is one of the three reasons that I chose to become a chef, that my education is never over.
ETonline: On the show, what is the most important quality you look for in a contestant to win the executive chef job?
Anne: First of all, their ability and desire to work hard and just to always come at things with a, 'How am I going to get this done,' and a 'Yes!' positive attitude.
ETonline: What would you say is the best piece of advice you could offer the contestants?
Anne: Listen to what the tests are, and follow the directions. You know, make sure that you're doing what is being asked of you. And also, gauge where you are and what the restaurant is. Think about the needs of the restaurant, rather than [showing me], 'Oh this is MY food.' Show me what the restaurant needs. You have to put the restaurant needs above your ego as a chef.
ETonline: And, in that vein, what would you say is more important as an executive chef, creativity or organizational skills?
Anne: Well, quite honestly, I believe that if you have good organizational skills, then creativity can come out of that, but it's hard to be really creative when everything is a mess. And in a restaurant, organizational skills are imperative.
ETonline: For the show, you travel all over the country filming, which U.S. city's cuisine is your favorite?
Anne: Oh my gosh, I can't say that! That's impossible to say. Alright, how about I say this – the one that I'm in at the moment. … There are many places that people can produce really good food. I wouldn't limit it to an area of the country, it's what the chefs have in them.
Tune in to Chef Wanted tonight at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Food Network.