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« Manzo, the full-service restaurant within Eataly | Main | Recipe: salted-caramel apple pie »
Saturday
Oct302010

Dessert First! My interview with Food Network hostess-extraordinaire, Anne Thornton

Photo courtesy: Patrick Buckley

If you crossed a high school homecoming queen with a modern-day Betty Crocker, then added a dash of Manhattan socialite - you would get Anne Thornton.  Not only is she beautiful and talented -  witty and funny - but I'm willing to bet that she can put your grandmother's baking to shame.  From her days as Pastry Chef at one of NYC's most exclusive restaurants, The Waverly Inn - to serving as Event Coordinator and Executive Pastry Chef at Hotel Griffou - Anne recently landed the role of a lifetime, as host of her very own series on the Food Network, Dessert First with Anne Thornton

I recently had the pleasure of catching up with Ms. Thornton, and am thrilled to be able to share our Q&A session with you:

~

What time can we expect to tune in to your new Food Network show, Dessert First with Anne Thornton?  I’d love to get my DVR all set up!

I see that you’re a fellow Texan – hailing from San Antonio.  Do you still have family in the Lone Star State? 

  • I have two cousins living in Austin, but they are Northern transplants. One was born in raised in Chicago and the other was born and raised in New York City. I'm the only born Texan in my family.

At what age did you move North? 

  • I moved to Cleveland, where my mother was born and raised, when I was a toddler. But Texas has a very special place in my heart. People always guess I'm from Texas by the way that I look (which I take as a compliment). I guess it's true that you can take the girl out of Texas but you can't take Texas out of the girl and why would you want to?

Which part of the country – North or South – has had the most impact on your style of cooking, to date?

  • I think my cooking style is a mix of the best of Southern, Northern and West Coast cooking. My sister was born in Atlanta and I was born in Texas and our father lived in Atlanta until he passed away, so we spent a lot of time down South. My mother loves architecture, antiques and Southern hospitality so we also spent a great deal of time in Savannah and Charleston growing up. Two cities that have amazing food. Our extended family is located in Chicago, Cleveland, and New York City so I was exposed to the best of the best of Northern food as well. I also lived in California and am a big advocate of eating locally and seasonally. I'm really fortunate to have been influenced by all of the amazing American styles of cooking.

How were you approached for your own series by Food Network?

  • I made my signature Salted Caramel Banana Pudding Pie for the 2009 New York Wine and Food Festival's SWEET event.  The press declared it as the winner and fan favorite.  Food Network, who was a major sponsor of the event, called me in for a meeting shortly thereafter.  I was really lucky, it came out of the blue for me and all happened very quickly.

How coincidentally fabulous that your first episode aired the weekend before Halloween!  Was this done on purpose? 

  • It worked out perfectly. I also have a Thanksgiving show and a Christmas show. Desserts are all about community, sharing, and celebration. On Dessert First with Anne Thornton, I show you how to make simple delicious desserts that have a wow factor that will impress your guests. On my premiere episode I showed viewers how to make spooky and sweet Halloween treats like Red Velvet Brain Cupcakes, Milk Chocolate Graveyard Cake, and Couture Caramel Apples.  This Sunday (Halloween!) is all about Breakfast Desserts – I’m going to whip up my finger-licking Other Worldly Sticky Buns drizzled with a gooey cinnamon glaze and royal icing.   I’ll also show you how to create a make-ahead Blueberry Almond Breakfast Tart filled with a perfectly flaky crust to serve alongside Spiced Coffee, a fragrant blend of coffee, cloves and orange zest. 

Where does your dessert inspiration come from?  How do you keep the customer “hungry for more,” both literally and figuratively?

  • My inspiration comes from desserts, flavors, and ingredients I grew up loving. My desserts are comfort food desserts, and who doesn't love comfort food?

What is your favorite-to-make, go-to dessert?

  • My go to favorite dessert is my signature dish: Salted Caramel Banana Pudding Pie.   

What is your opinion of the cupcake phenomenon that has taken America - and the world, for that matter - by storm?

  • I love cupcakes. What is better than cake that you can hold in your hand? I think cupcakes are here to stay but I think we are going to start to see some new dessert trends. I predict that Parisian macarons will be the next hand-held dessert phenomenon. They are beautiful and easy to eat, like a cupcake, and they are gluten free.

If you had to choose just one, what do you consider to be your favorite restaurant in NYC? 

  • It doesn’t have to be fancy. Ballato's on East Houston Street is my staple go-to favorite restaurant.  Emilio's Bolognese (sauce) is heavenly and his focaccia bread is crisp on the outside and as light and fluffy as angel food cake on the inside. He is a super talented chef.

What is your favorite "guilty-pleasure" cuisine?

  • I love fried food. I love fried chicken more than any other food on the planet. I like it warm, room temperature or cold. I love any and everything fried. I have an entire episode dedicated to this delicious and decadent method of cooking. My Deep Fried Cookie Dough with Fleur de Sel is worth living for, and you'll be able to get the recipe after it airs on November 21, 2010.

Salted Caramel Banana Pudding Pie: the "winning recipe" that put Anne on the map~

Read it & eat...and make sure to tune-in!

The Lunch Belle

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