Chef Anne Burrell Dishes on School Lunches and Healthy Eating

Food Network’s Anne Burrell competed in the Great American School Lunch Challenge last week.

Chef Anne Burrell
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How about if you're just learning to cook?

Start off easy—not with the most complicated recipe you've ever seen. Try something you're interested in; like, I like chicken. Find some recipes for chicken. Don't just say, 'I'm gonna buy chicken and I'm gonna wing it.' Because quite honestly, you probably won't be that successful. There are a million places for resources and reference material by way of what we call recipes. Follow one, and then build up your confidence. The more you do that, the more fun it becomes, because it's just easier. Whenever you don't know how to do something, it's hard. And so, build up your confidence and then try something a little harder—branch out a bit more.

What are your five must-have ingredients?

The holy trinity in my kitchen is salt, olive oil and bacon. And if you have eggs, dried pasta and a can of tomatoes, you can always make dinner.

You say family dinners are still important. Why's that?

There's so much more to the family dinner than just sitting down and eating. It's taking the time as a family to maybe cook dinner together, or just being a family unit, whatever that family looks like. It's chatting and looking each other in the eyes, and not just jamming something down your throat. Check in with each other. I feel like that's very valuable time.

What kind of food trends can we expect to see this year?

If I knew that, I'd probably be doing it and make a million dollars! Everything that's new is old. Someone will pull out some trend from somewhere—I'm a little bit over this pork belly trend, and the comfort food trend. And now everything is farm to table. Well, duh. Where does food come from, you know? It comes from a farm. It might be a giant, huge corporate one, but it's still a farm. What are we going to do next, go from table to farm? I don't know. Just move the table to the farm?

Inquiring minds want to know: How do you keep your hair looking so great while you're cooking?

It's all about the product! And it's also like, is it supposed to look like this, or is it just a mess? You can never tell, so you can never tell if I'm having a bad hair day. People have to think, did she wake up late or did she really work hard on that? It's always a crapshoot.