Fresh from the Food Network debut of her new show Cooking for Real, former hip-hop DJ and serious foodie-traveler Sunny Anderson tells IgoUgo about traveling for the love of a clam roll and falling for German curry.
IgoUgo: What's your favorite food city?
Sunny Anderson: New Orleans, LA
IgoUgo: Is that the same as your more general favorite destination?
Sunny Anderson: No, I actually love New York as a destination even though I live here. I've been so many places in the world that the ethnic diversity and opportunity to get authentic ethnic foods in New York really appeals to me. I can get on the subway and travel for 30 minutes and end up in another world.
IgoUgo: How big a role does food play when you're traveling for leisure?
Sunny Anderson: What I will be able to eat is the ONLY thing I think about when planning
a trip. I do plenty of research and then also know that when I get to the destination, I'll explore some. I think the second most important thing is, what will I do when I'm full? So, I look for places that offer relaxation for the stuffed foodie.
IgoUgo: Would you pick a destination based on the eating opportunities?
Sunny Anderson: Yes; I once hopped a train to Boston just for a clam roll. I only
planned to stay one day and ended up adding days based on places I could get to in the city for a meal. I had to pace myself.
IgoUgo: If you could visit one destination with unlimited resources (whether
it's money, transportation, or connections) for eating, where would you go?
Sunny Anderson: South Korea. I lived there for only a year and ventured off the military
base often for meals and exploration. I was young and didn't have the means or the time actually
to fully indulge. I think I only skimmed the surface of Korean food. It is so delicious.
IgoUgo: What food product would you cross an ocean to buy right now, if you
Sunny Anderson: I'd cross the ocean to Germany and try to track down the curry sauce I remember dipping pommes frites in growing up. I have looked and looked and tried to recreate, and I just can't. I think about it often and get a bit sick when I hear people are going over for a vacation. I must go back, but really need 2-3 weeks free to fully enjoy and haven't had that time yet. Argh, this question makes me want to go so bad.
IgoUgo: What do you consider your signature dish and why?
Sunny Anderson: I think my signature dish is fried chicken? It changes—I cook many things and until recently had no idea how varied my cooking choices were. My boyfriend announced one day to me he brags to his friends he never gets the same meal twice. So, I know I may have a signature dish, but I couldn't really say one specifically, but the chicken always gets requested when I cook for others.
IgoUgo: What's the worst meal you've ever had on a trip?
Sunny Anderson: Well, it wasn't really a “trip,” but I went to a friend’s house for a BBQ and the mother made mac and cheese. We are sure she mistook alllll of the seasonings for sugar and it was the sweeeeetest, yuckiest mac and cheese I've ever had. It was quite funny because no one would say anything. It was horrible and we still laugh about the “sweet mac” we had at the BBQ. As far as a trip, I don't think I've ever allowed myself to really complain about food on a trip. I always try to find the high points. Every chef/cook/server has a bad day.
IgoUgo: What surprised you—or bugged you—most about cooking on television
when you taped your first show?
Sunny Anderson: Very simple—time flies when you are having fun. I'd do a segment showing technique or something and realize the segment was way too long. So to cut short comments or speed up cooking processes to fit for time was something new to me. What surprised me truly was the graciousness of the team. I was and still feel very green, but everyone was patient. And it also bugged me out to see how many people had a part in the process. Television is a true team sport.
IgoUgo: What food do you crave regularly?
Sunny Anderson: I regularly crave DiFara's Pizza and frozen Snickers bars.
IgoUgo: Do you ever eat fast food?
Sunny Anderson: I seldom do, but when I treat myself to a night off from cooking it's
usually Popeye's Chicken or Subway, if that's considered fast food.
You can catch Sunny cooking on the Food Network Sundays at 10:30am ET.
Photo courtesy of Food Network