Anne Burrell: The Complete Evolution Of The Celebrity Chef

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Famous for her eccentric hairstyles and upbeat personality, Anne Burrell is one of America's most entertaining celebrity chefs. After learning the culinary arts in Italy and working in some of New York's finest restaurants, Burrell is celebrated for her down-to-earth approach to sharing accessible recipes in a way that doesn't intimidate her audience. As one of the Food Network's biggest stars, she's appeared on "Iron Chef America" and is the host of "Secrets of a Restaurant Chef," "Chef Wanted with Anne Burrell," and "Worst Cooks in America" (via Celebrity Net Worth). Burrell is also a New York Times bestselling author and passionate cooking teacher. When she's not wearing her toque, Burrell is busy posting behind-the-scenes snapshots of her life with her husband and cats on Instagram.

But where did Burrell's career begin? Since she was a young girl, Burrell spent time cooking with her mom and watching Julia Child (per Total Food Service). Today, Burrell is on the same level as her idol with such a successful career as one of the world's top chefs.

Anne always dreamed of becoming a chef

As children, we all dream of having fun careers, but as adults, most of us end up on a different path — but not Anne Burrell. She enjoyed cooking as a child, and today she is being paid to do exactly what she loves. Born in Cazenovia, New York, Anne Burrell has fond childhood memories in the kitchen with her mom, who instilled in her a love for cooking from a very early age. "My mom is crazy about cooking. My apple happily does not fall far from her tree," Burrell said (via Total Food Service). Besides her mom, Burrell's cooking inspiration was Julia Child. As a little girl, she watched Child on television with her mother as they made meals daily. "In my mom's words, I became a chef because I watched Julia when I was little," said Burrell (via Total Food Service). 

Even as an adult chef, Burrell calls Julia Child her culinary idol, expressing an affinity to her: "I sort of feel simpatico with Julia because we are both these big, kooky, loud ladies with a particular outlook on things, but with a definite joy in what we do," she said (via Closer Weekly). According to her mom, Marlene, Burrell was a talented child whose cooking skills quickly surpassed hers. "Anne was able to use my kitchen from the time she was about three years old, and she was always interested," Marlene told Eagle News Online.

Her path to the kitchen took a detour when she majored in English and Communications

Although Anne Burrell always loved cooking, she decided to take a different path after high school. Burrell studied English and Communications at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York (via AAE Speakers). After graduating from college, Burrell got a job working at a headhunter establishment for physicians but didn't enjoy it: "I was thinking to myself, 'I am 23 years old, and I am too young to be this miserable'" (via Closer Weekly). 

Feeling dissatisfied with her career choice, she followed her passion for food instead. She had already worked in the food business while she was a student, so she was familiar with the industry. "I started waitressing when I was in college because I wanted to buy a car. A week in, I knew I loved the restaurant business," Burrell recalled (via Closer Weekly).

Eventually, she enrolled in culinary school and never looked back. "I loved every single minute of being a student at the CIA," she told her alma mater, the Culinary Institute of America, which honored Burrell at their annual Leadership Awards event.

She fell in love with Italian cuisine while learning to cook in Tuscany

Who doesn't love an Italian feast? According to a 2019 YouGov study, Italian cuisine is the most popular food in the world, so it's no wonder Anne Burrell decided to hop on a plane and learn how to cook the finest Italian dishes from the country's experts. After studying at the Culinary Institute of America, Burrell furthered her cooking exploration at the Italian Culinary Institute for Foreigners while working at La Bottega del' 30, a one-star Michelin restaurant, according to Culinary Institute of America. Burrell's time in Italy greatly impacted her cooking style; today, she is famous for her authentic Italian menu.

Burrell's passion and love for Italian cuisine are based on the fact that mastering Italian food is all about focusing on the ingredient itself. "It's about using perfect ingredients and respecting them. It's different than the French kitchen in that French cuisine is more about manipulation, covering things up with butter and cream," she said (via the Food Network). "The Italian kitchen is more about what's in season, doing as little as you can to it and just letting it speak for itself. It's so simple, rustic and beautiful," she added. Burrell loves passing on her knowledge of Italian cuisine and hosts classes where she shares her favorite Italian recipes with her fans.

She got her first cooking job in New York working at Felidia Restaurant and Savoy

They say if you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere, and Anne Burrell is proof of that. Surviving work in some of the best New York City restaurants, Burrell became a better chef and even developed her signature rustic style (per Culinary Institute of America). Upon her arrival in New York City after studying the culinary arts in Italy, Burrell was hired as a sous chef at the now-closed Italian restaurant, Felidia, working with Italian-American celebrity chef Lidia Bastianich (via Culinary Institute of America). The restaurant was the perfect training ground for Burrell. Felidia was a charming restaurant in a townhouse setting in mid-town Manhattan. It was renowned for introducing authentic Italian cuisine to New York locals who are accustomed to "Italian-American red sauce cooking" (per Eater New York).

Following Felidia, Burrell rose through the ranks and served as a chef at Savoy in SoHo, a restaurant that has since closed down (via The New York Times). At Savoy, Burrell cooked over an open wood fire and worked on a menu inspired by dishes from the Mediterranean (via the Food Network).

She took a job working for Italian Wine Merchants, which helped her get discovered

After teaching cooking and working in restaurants, Anne Burrell's industry knowledge made her appealing to the Italian Wine Merchants — the Batali-Bastianich empire — who were quick to employ her. Her job with the Wine Merchants included traveling to events with the "Iron Chef" star Mario Batali — who's since been accused of multiple sexual misconduct allegations (via The New York Times). When Batali became one of the Food Network's most-watched iron chefs, he gave Burrell the role of sous chef, and they became an entertaining cooking duo, according to CBS News.

But even early in her television career working with Batali, Burrell was a stand-out chef. Her quirky demeanor and how she narrates her cooking captivated audiences, with the Dallas Observer labeling her "quietly reliable" in a review of her entertaining performance on the "Iron Chef." The newspaper sang her praises and noted that "no one comes close to her ability to combine her restaurant-honed kitchen techniques." With so many positive reviews, it was not long before the Food Network moved Burrell from "Iron Chef" to her own show, "Secrets of a Restaurant Chef" which propelled her television career from there.

She is a New York Times bestselling cookbook author

It's only natural for a celebrity television chef to want to become a bestselling cookbook author, and Anne Burrell managed to do just that. She capitalized on her extensive restaurant knowledge, the Food Network television appeal, and intense culinary training by using her brand to share her favorite recipes with her followers in her debut cookbook. 

Her first book, "Cook Like a Rock Star," was published in 2011 and is a collection of easy recipes. According to the book's Amazon description, its pages include "125 rustic yet elegant recipes, all based on accessible ingredients, along with encouraging notes and handy professional tricks that will help you cook more efficiently at home." Appealing to novice cook's across the globe, "Cook Like a Rock Star" became New York Times bestseller. As a classically trained chef and host of the Food Network's "Secrets of a Restaurant Chef," Burrell proved she could also connect with her audience in writing and that studying English and Communications at college was not a waste of time. 

With so much success for her first cookbook, the celebrity chef penned a follow-up in 2013 called "Own Your Kitchen," which was equally as successful (via the Food Network).

She is considered a Food Network rockstar

Although Anne Burrell's television career on the Food Network began when celebrity chef Mario Batali gave her the role of sous chef on "Iron Chef" (via CBS News), it wasn't long before Burrell became a Food Network star. Her first show, "Secrets of a Restaurant Chef," lifted her to celebrity chef status and received rave reviews. "Burrell's motor-mouthed, stream-of-consciousness narration skates right to the edge of giddy incoherence, but never, ever overshadows the cooking task at hand," wrote a reviewer for the Dallas Observer. Since her time on "Secrets of a Restaurant Chef," Burrell has appeared on many other popular Food Network shows, including "All-Star Best Thing I Ever Ate," "Worst Cooks in America," and "The Next Iron Chef." 

In "Chef Wanted with Anne Burrell," she shows her savvy business side as she helps restaurants hire the right executive chef for their business. In the season where The Pear Southern Bistro was looking for a chef, the show's winner Chef Ashurina Younan was selected by Burrell as the best person for the job. Younan said that although Chef Burrell has a great sense of humor and is full of praise, she is also strict. "She expects only the best. She is straightforward and is truly there to help you be better. She helps you develop yourself and your food, by hearing out your ideas and using her experience and knowledge to help you perfect them," Younan said (via the Food Network).

Her Brooklyn restaurant shut down less than a year after opening

In May 2017, Anne Burrell took to her Instagram page to excitedly share her latest business venture — a Brooklyn restaurant called Phil & Anne's Good Time Lounge, which she opened with her old friend Phil Casaceli. However, the restaurant closed less than a year later. Phil & Anne's Good Time Lounge had an eclectic menu and offered everything from burgers and pigs in a blanket to finer dishes like braised lamb shanks with polenta (via Eater New York).

According to Page Six, the restaurant was always busy and loved by the locals. But, the restaurant closed its doors less than a year after opening due to disagreements between Burrell and business partner Casaceli. A representative for Burrell told Page Six that Casaceli was unwilling to reconcile the situation: "Anne did not close the restaurant. Unfortunately, she and Phil have had differences of opinion during their business relationship that made running a restaurant together impossible." However, Casaceli told Page Six that Burrell's claims were an "all-out lie" and that he tried to communicate with the celebrity chef. Either way, it's sad to hear that the New York restaurant closed its doors and never reopened after the feud. Burrell has not opened a restaurant since.

She is happy to have found her husband later in life

In October 2021, Anne Burrell got her fairytale ending when she married Stuart Claxton in her hometown, Cazenovia, New York, where she carefully planned the event's menu and served guests a unique choice of zucchini cake for dessert. Burrell and Claxton, both in their 50s, met in 2018 on Bumble, according to People. After years of being single, Burrell said that marrying Claxton felt like she got everything she wanted. "I was able to focus on my career, and now I can really put my effort, care and love into my marriage," she said (via Closer Weekly). Claxton, who works in marketing (per People), also has a son, and Burrell is pleased to have him part of their life. "Stuart came into my life with his son Javier, so it's like I got a 2-for-1 deal. That whole family dynamic has been amazing," she said (via Closer Weekly).

The celebrity chef's marriage appears to be going strong. The Food Network star regularly shares snapshots of her marital bliss on social media, referring to Claxton as her "Prince Charming." Burrell posted a photo of their wedding day on their first Valentine's Day as a married couple with the caption: "The happiest first Valentine's Day to my Prince Charming ... You make me the happiest girl in the world ... I love you to the moon and back my sweet" (via Instagram).

She is passionate about teaching cooks at home

In her career as a celebrity TV chef, cookbook author, and restaurant owner, Anne Burrell has mentored newcomers to the kitchen and sees herself as a teacher. "I'm a chef, but I am also a teacher," she said (via Eagle News Online). "I've had a lot of people who have been on 'Worst Cooks in America' reach out to me," she said. According to the celebrity chef, many former contestants are grateful to her for enlightening them with her expert cooking skills. 

Perhaps she can credit her English and Communications degree for her ability to explain complex recipes to her audience in an accessible and entertaining way. Or maybe she's just a natural teacher. Either way, Burrell's knack for storytelling and simple methods of explaining food techniques have made her one of the Food Network's most popular and successful cooking teachers. 

"Being able to cook and talk is a special skill," explained Burrell (via Closer Weekly). Burrell acknowledges her role in teaching novice cooks to master recipes through her Food Network tutorials, but she takes comfort in the fact that she will still have many returning customers. "But thankfully, not everyone has learned everything. There are still plenty of worst cooks out there that need my help!" she humorously told Closer Weekly.