Anne Burrell talks football food, creative pantry cooking & more


Celebrated chef, restaurateur and Food Network personality, Anne Burrell has lots to say about football food, creative pantry cooking and finding the nod to the healthy in the kitchen.

Food fans and Food Network followers have known Anne Burrell for many years. Back to her first Food Network appearances as sous chef on Iron Chef to her current role as mentor/judge on Worst Cooks in America, Anne Burrell has become a favorite with foodies. From elevated Italian cuisine to an inventive Cheetos pop-up restaurant, Burrell proves that delicious food is fun and approachable.

In a special event, Burrell judged Game Day Grub Match which had three former NFL players compete in a game day grub culinary competition. The former NFL players had to incorporate PepsiCo snack foods and pantry staples into three unique dishes.

Recently, I had the opportunity to chat with Anne Burrell about Game Day Grub Match, creative pantry cooking and even the nod to the healthy in traditional football watching foods. Below are some impressions of that conversation.

Game Day Grub Match features three former NFL players, did you think that they would be so creative in the kitchen?

Burrell commented that she believed that those NFL players were going to come up with some impressive dishes. Over time, she has found that many football players and athletes know food and would be considered foodies. They want to be involved with what they eat as well as be involved in the kitchen. The creativity in the kitchen is part of their enjoyment and showcases their knowledge about food. The Game Day Grub Match showed that these football players definitely have some serious food game in the kitchen.

Group Shot: Celebrity Chef Josh Capon (judge); PepsiCo Executive Chef Stephen Kalil (judge); Nick Mangold (athlete); Celebrity Chef Anne Burrell (judge); Rashad Jennings (judge); Kay Adams (host); and Greg Jennings (athlete) (PRNewsfoto/PepsiCo)

Some football fans will look at Game Day Grub Match and its recipes for their Super Bowl party inspiration, what are some keys to creating a great recipe?

With a few examples, Burrell emphasized the importance of creating and building flavor. Like the NFL players in this particular challenge, the home cook can use various snacks, foods and drinks to build flavor in a dish.

For example, using items from the PepsiCo pantry, like in Game Day Grub Match, the home cook can transform a simple dish into a highly flavorful dish. Whether it is using Doritos as the foundation for a chicken wing coating or Naked Juices as a flavorful marinade, these prepared foods can bring an easy boost of flavor.

Additionally, the prepared foods can help the home cook add a nod to the healthy. Flavorful dishes can, and often are, healthy. From vegetable packed salsas to yogurt based sauces, the healthy components can add a big punch of flavor to many dishes.

Creativity in the kitchen is for anyone, from the novice cook to the more experienced one. Experimentation is part of the enjoyment of cooking. From flavor to texture, the pantry can be the home cook’s friend in the kitchen.

Chef Anne Burrell and Former Athlete Rashad Jennings in the kitchen for PepsiCo’s Game Day Grub Match (PRNewsfoto/PepsiCo)

What are some tips for the home cook as she thinks about throwing a Super Bowl party?

One important piece of advice from Burrell was to know your audience. For example, don’t push some crazy exotic foods on someone who doesn’t like those types of food. Any menu should take your audience into consideration.

Using foods that people enjoy and like can be the food conversation jumping off point. For example, the bowl of hummus with some crudité is an appetizer that many people enjoy. But, what if that hummus is transformed into something else. Or, what if those Cheetos go from the bowl and into a super creative dish. Taking something familiar and transforming it makes the new dish more approachable.

Also, the party host doesn’t need to be stuck in the kitchen for the whole party. Prepare some food options before the party begins. Many dishes can be prepped before guests arrive. With a little planning the host can enjoy the party as much as all her guests.

Photo Credit: Worst Cooks in America/Food Network Image Acquired from Scripps Media Newsroom

As mentor/judge on Worst Cooks in America, what are some important tips for the home cook to know in the kitchen?

Whether home cooks are just starting out or have some experience, Burrell recommended that they understand some basics. Practice is key to becoming more comfortable in the kitchen. Reading recipes can cooking itself can help to make the home cook feel more confident in the kitchen.

Still, people should know their limitations. A new cook may not want to tackle a difficult recipe when she is first starting to cook. Learning a simple dish and cooking that dish well is more important than complicated foods. Having a solid understanding of the basics can be the foundation to becoming a good cook.

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Also, remember that the home cook is the chef of her own kitchen. If she prefers spicier foods, then she should incorporate those flavors into her food. Everyone should experiment with flavors and tastes. Finding what you personally like can help improve both cooking and enjoying the food that you cook.

Lastly, the home cook needs to embrace mistakes in the kitchen. Everyone, even professional chefs, have made kitchen mistakes. The key is to learn from those mistakes. If you overcook a steak one time, next time cook the steak differently. If your dish is bland, next time season it more. Don’t be defeated from mistakes, just learn from them.

My conversation with Chef Anne Burrell was quite enjoyable. Having watched her on television and seen her cooking demos in person, Burrell displays her love of food and cooking. Her food, like her personality, is vivacious and appealing. After speaking with her, I definitely feel inspired to be more creative in my home kitchen.

Lastly, what will Anne Burrell be doing during Super Bowl LII? She will be at her restaurant, Phil & Anne’s Good Time Lounge. She is looking forward to both the game and some entertaining commercials.