Sunny Anderson is the Food Network’s next big thing — and a proud Brooklynite.
The “Cooking for Real” host is one of the cable channel’s shining stars, but she remains a laid-back gal with a bright smile and cheery personality.
“I’m happy,” the Bay Ridge resident said. “When you’re doing what you love, you tend to be happier and nicer and more of a calm human being. I definitely have stressful days but very seldom about and around work. I focus my stress on doing well and getting to where I want to in life and my goals. Usually, I get angry when there’s a roadblock in the way but otherwise I’m like, whatever. I’m happy I woke up this morning.”
Living in Brooklyn is definitely keeping the culinary whiz happy.
“Brooklyn is great,” she told this paper. “What’s not to love about it?”
The self-proclaimed Army brat spent her childhood moving from one country to another and sampling various ethnic dishes. In a way, that exposure to such diverse cuisine served as Anderson’s culinary training.
“We were always able to find new and exiting things to eat every time we moved and we moved a lot,” Anderson said.
When she joined the Air Force at age 18, “My palate was just not ready for Air Force mess hall food,” she explained. “My first real year away from home I spent in South Korea calling long distance to my mom and asking for recipes. If ever there was a culinary degree that you can get over the phone, I think I got it. That was my training.”
Now, as a resident of Brooklyn, Anderson gets her food fix from her own kitchen, of course, but also from the borough’s diverse restaurants.
“I love the cuchifrito place on Fifth Avenue, I love going to El Yayo Nuevo on Fourth Avenue in the 50s. I love going to the Stone Park Cafe,” Anderson said. “There’s a place I love to go called Footprints that has amazing Caribbean food.”
For the nights when she wants a cozy meal at home, Anderson often pulls fresh produce right out of her backyard garden (check out photos of the vegetables on Anderson’s blog, www.sunnya
“I have radishes and three or four different types of lettuce. I have white onions, red onions, tomatoes that are struggling right now because there’s little bugs trying to eat them. There’s collard greens and fennel that’s been starting to look decent,” she said.
These veggies often make it into Anderson’s dishes on “Cooking for Real.”
Before Anderson joined the Food Network ranks, she had a varied, eclectic and successful career as an award-winning military radio host and news reporter, food and lifestyle editor at “Hip Hop Weekly Magazine,” owner of the Sunny’s Delicious Dishes catering company, and popular host at hip-hop radio station HOT 97.
Anderson started out on the Food Network in 2005 as a special guest on “Emeril Live.” She quickly moved up the ranks and two years later became co-host of the “Gotta Get It” series.
Her own show, “Cooking for Real” premiered in April 2008. In addition to preparing for the show’s second season, Anderson is also the star of “How’d That Get On My Plate?” and recently hosted “Sunny’s Summer Eats.”
On the local front, Anderson has graciously appeared as a special guest in “The Kitchen Klutz” cooking column in this newspaper’s “24/Seven” section. (Check it out at www.24seve
With a thriving career, Anderson remains humble about her success.
“It’s the hugest, biggest compliment ever when people say they’ve watched the shows and try the recipes,” she said. “It’s never going to get old. I check the reviews on the recipes, it’s really neat to see the reviews because you can fix things and get better.”
Although Anderson has the world at her feet, she is part of a growing movement of celebrities who are forgoing Manhattan apartments for homes in Brooklyn.
She’s travelled the world but Anderson plans to call Brooklyn home for many years to come.
“I’m going to try to stay here forever. I just have to find a neighborhood with no alternate side parking,” she said with a laugh. “That’s what I need.”
Watch Anderson on the Food Network in “Cooking for Real,” which airs on Saturday at 12 p.m., Sunday at 10:30 a.m. and weekdays at 4 p.m. Check your local listings for airtimes for Anderson’s special primetime series.