If you were taking nominations for the hardest-working person on the Food Network these days, you would have to put spiky-haired Anne Burrell at the top of the list.
As the host of "Chef Wanted," (10 p.m. Thursdays) Burrell plays matchmaker between restaurateurs and executive candidates, trying to find the perfect fit. On "Worst Cooks in America," (9 p.m. Sundays) she and Bobby Flay attempt to teach profoundly clueless home cooks how to improve their kitchen skills.
She also passes along her professional cooking tips on the series "Secrets of a Restaurant Chef" and can be seen in reruns of "The Next Iron Chef" and "Next Iron Chef: Super Chefs." In 2011, her cookbook, "Cook Like a Rock Star," made the New York Times bestseller list.
On "Chef Wanted," Burrell helps restaurants weed through candidates with cooking challenges. The format is similar to what restaurant owners go through every day.
"[Finding a chef] is the bane of everybody's existence," she says. "If you talk to any restaurateur, all you hear is, 'I need people.' It's always like trying to find the needle in a haystack to find the right chef for the right job. It will always be an issue. Being a chef of a restaurant, you have to wear a lot of different hats. It just flat-out is a hard job."
The most difficult quality to find: someone with a work ethic.
"Everyone goes to culinary school and calls themselves a chef now," Burrell says. "People forget all the years of hard experience and work that goes into being able to call yourself a chef."
At the other end of the cooking spectrum are the contestants on "Worst Cooks." Like the fellow who attempted to make a grilled cheese by searing a slice of Swiss on a grill top without first putting it between two slices of bread. Her co-host, Bobby Flay, is equally as stunned by the lack of kitchen instincts of the contestants, Burrell says.
"The first season when Bobby and I were doing this, the first 5 minutes in Bobby looks at me and says, 'Are you kidding me?' He said that this wasn't even about cooking. It was about common sense.
"I always say that common sense isn't common sense unless you've learned it first," Burrell says.