About the Mentors
With her trademark spiky blond hair and pumped-up personality, Anne Burrell has worked at some of the top restaurants in New York, studied the culinary landscape and traditions of Italy, and battled alongside Mario Batali as his sous chef on Food Network’s Iron Chef America. Anne makes restaurant dishes accessible and reveals concise, easy-to-master techniques for the at-home cook on her Food Network series Secrets of a Restaurant Chef. On her show Chef Wanted, Anne helps top restaurateurs find candidates with the right experience and creativity to become executive chefs. On Worst Cooks in America, Anne joins Tyler Florence in mentoring teams of hopeless home cooks from around the country, putting them through culinary boot camp.
In 2011, Anne published her first cookbook, Cook Like a Rock Star, which gives home cooks the confidence and support to be rock stars in their own kitchens. Her cookbook earned a place on the New York Times Best Seller list. In fall 2011 Anne starred in her own right on Next Iron Chef: Super Chefs.
Growing up in upstate New York, Anne developed a passion for food and cooking at an early age. After obtaining an English and communications degree from Canisius College in Buffalo, she pursued her interest in the restaurant business by enrolling in the Culinary Institute of America. Following graduation, she spent a year in Italy attending the Italian Culinary Institute for Foreigners while working at La Taverna del Lupo in Umbria and La Bottega del' 30, a Michelin one-star restaurant in Tuscany. During this year, Anne grew to truly appreciate and understand the philosophy of Italian cuisine and culture, which left a lasting impact on her culinary point of view.
Upon her arrival in New York City, Anne was hired as a sous chef at Felidia, working with Lidia Bastianich. She then served as a chef at Savoy, where she cooked over an open wood fire and created flavorful menus inspired by Mediterranean countries. Here Anne developed her personal culinary style: rustic food made with pure and simple ingredients with intense flavors.
Anne then took the opportunity to spread her culinary knowledge and passion as a teacher at the Institute of Culinary Education. After three years, Anne went back to the restaurant business, serving as the executive chef at Lumi. Shortly after, she joined the Batali-Bastianich empire by accepting a job at Italian Wine Merchants. The job also included salumi production and traveling to off-site events with Mario Batali. When Mario became one of Food Network’s esteemed Iron Chefs, he knew exactly who to enlist as his sous chef: the talented and dynamic Anne Burrell.
Rachael was born into cooking as a way of life. "My first vivid memory is watching Mom in a restaurant kitchen," she says. "Everyone on both sides of my family cooks." She landed at Macy's Marketplace at the candy counter and then as the manager of the fresh foods department. After Macy's, Ray helped open a prestigious New York gourmet marketplace. She then moved upstate to be a food buyer and chef. As a way to increase grocery sales during the holidays, Ray began a series of cooking classes and 30 Minute Meals was born.
"My life has been a total accident — a very happy, wonderful accident that I didn't and couldn't have planned," says Rachael. Despite her growing celebrity she is determined to stay grounded and hold on to her down-to-earth values. She still spends as much time as she can at her cabin in the Adirondacks with her husband, John, her family — the "research team" — and her beloved pit bull Isaboo.
In the spring of 2007, Rachael Ray launched a nonprofit organization, Yum-o! that empowers kids and their families to develop healthy relationships with food and cooking. By providing the tools to create easy, affordable and delicious meals, Yum-o! is changing the way America eats. Yum-o!'s three work areas include educating kids and their families about cooking, feeding hungry American kids and funding cooking education and scholarships. For more information about the Yum-o! organization, please visit www.yum-o.org.