Anne Burrell is a familiar face to Food Network viewers; Since first appearing on the network as Mario Batali’s sous chef on Iron Chef America in 2005, she’s gone on to host two of her own shows, Secrets of a Restaurant Chef and Chef Wanted with Anne Burrell. She’s also appeared on The Best Thing I Ever Ate. But she’s gotten the most facetime on the network as the host of Worst Cooks in America, which has been on the air since 2010 and is currently in its seventh season. On the show, contestants are divided into two teams, and Burrell and her co-host are each tasked with teaching them basic cooking skills; whoever progresses the most over the season wins, with one being eliminated per episode. This season, she’s joined by co-host Rachael Ray, and for the first time celebrities are contestants; they include Dean Cain, Barry Williams, Kendra Wilkinson, and Jaleel White.
“It’s a truly sweet show,” Burrell told us when asked what keeps her coming back season after season when the show has gone through a variety of co-hosts including Bobby Flay, Tyler Florence, and Robert Irvine. “We’re hard on them, but it’s tough love. They truly, honestly want to get better, and we teach them and don’t give them anything that we know they can’t do well. They really put themselves out there, because they just want to be able to cook for their family. They get really emotional about it.”
Working with celebrities this season has been a different experience than in previous seasons. “When I first walked in, I was honestly a little star struck,” Burrell said. “But once the cooking starts you realize that they’re real people and they’re just as bad at cooking as everyone else!” And surprisingly, nobody demonstrated any diva behavior. “Everyone was just eager to learn,” she added.
There was one advantage to having performers on the show, however. “Celebrities are used to being on camera, so they’re not afraid to let it all hang out.”
Worst Cooks in America airs Wednesdays at 9/ 8 Central on Food Network.