'Worst Cooks in America' Season 5: Anne Burrell admits 'it's pretty much a sad state of affairs'

mike-glazer-anne-burrell-worst-cooks-in-america-s5-food.jpgHaving launched its fifth season, and airing Mondays on Food Network, "Worst Cooks in America" takes a team of cooking failures and seeks to give them culinary competence -- in search of a $25,000 grand prize.

On hand to help them are chefs, hosts and coaches Bobby Flay and Anne Burrell. Burrell takes a few minutes off from filming to answer some questions from Zap2it about the effort to turn kitchen zeros into kitchen heroes.

Zap2it: Now that you're several seasons in, what things do all these terrible cooks have in common at the start?

Anne Burell: All the recruits throughout the seasons are hopelessly bad cooks. I call them my "lovable losers." It's pretty much a sad state of affairs.

RELATED: 'Worst Cooks in America' Season 5 cast photos

Zap2it: What has proven to be the most difficult skill to master?

Burell: Knife cuts. This is a skill all chefs and cooks spend time perfecting. These recruits are beginners, so it takes some time to develop.

Zap2it: What skill do they seem to pick up most quickly?

Burell:  Mise en place. They usually realize the importance of prep work before starting to cook early on.

Zap2it: There seem to be a lot of bad or, at minimum, barely competent cooks in America. What has contributed to the decline in basic culinary skills?

Burell: I think the desire to cook stems from childhood. I grew up in a house where my mom was always cooking. It wasn't an occasion. It was every day. And I know that motivated me to get in the kitchen and cook. Also, now there are so many products available in stores that people don't have to cook. There are too many shortcuts.

Zap2it: What three techniques should every cook learn?

Burell: Knife cuts, mise en place and basic, low-tech components to cooking such as reading a recipe. Do you have all the ingredients you need? Measuring your ingredients. These are all necessary for basic cooking.

Zap2it: What are the top staple items every cook should have, even if they aren't highly skilled?

Burell: The holy trinity in my kitchen is salt, olive oil and bacon. I stand by that.

Zap2it: What are the top staple items every cook should have, even if they aren't highly skilled?

Burell: When I see people start to learn and take initiative without me having to direct them; when I see their "a-ha!" moment. I love to witness their success.

Zap2it: Have you become a better teacher over the years, and in what ways?

Burell: Yes, of course! The more experience I get teaching, the more I understand how people process information and how people respond to different things. And my patience has certainly increased!

Zap2it: Do you have a favorite recipe you'd like all beginning cooks to learn?

Burell: Absolutely. Of course, any recipe from "Own Your Kitchen" or "Cook Like a Rockstar."

Photo/Video credit: Food Network
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