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Sunny Anderson: From Army Brat To Food Network Star

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Oct 26, 2015

This week's episode of The Sporkful podcast is up! Listen through the player or iTunes/Podcasts app. (And please subscribe!)

You’ve seen Sunny Anderson cooking on the Rachael Ray Show and the Food Network show The Kitchen. But unlike a lot of TV food personalities, she’s not a trained chef. Like me, she just LOVES to eat.

Sunny has her parents and the U.S. Army to thank for that:

"Every time we got new orders [to move to a different military base], my parents would do the research and say 'Look at how they eat there!'" Sunny recalls. "My mom made kimchi in Germany the real way – she actually put it in the earth. I have parents who made kimchi -- we are black!"

MakingKimChi_koreanet

This week on The Sporkful, Food Network star Sunny Anderson talks about growing up on Army bases all over the world, her own time in the Air Force, and all the foods she ate along the way -- from blood sausage to bibimbap to Spam.

"My Mom would knock on our next door neighbors’ [door] -- the Trans, a Vietnamese family -- [and she would say]: 'Excuse me, can you show me how to make spring rolls?'" Sunny says. "I’m that way too now because I saw her do that."

After high school, Sunny joined the Air Force and went to basic training -- where the food culture was unlike anything she'd experienced growing up on military bases around the world.

"It was like going to jail," she says of the food in basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. "Your goal was to rush to eat so you can get back up and get dessert. It was tough."

Breakfast is Ready at Miriam's Kitchen

Eventually Sunny was stationed in South Korea, where she got her start in entertainment -- as a radio broadcaster in the Air Force.

And while she was there, she did what she learned to do growing up: EAT GOOD FOOD -- especially bibimbap (BEE-beem-bop), rice and vegetables cooked in a stone pot, topped with a fried egg and a dab of spicy, funky fermented soybean paste called gochujang:

DolSotBiBimBap_epw

Eaters, I'm a huge fan of bibimbap. For one thing -- it's a masterful case study in bite consistency. For another: it's DELICIOUS.

Sunny says bibimbap is both ubiquitous and beloved in South Korea -- not unlike another dish I often site in discussions of bite variety vs. bite consistency here on The Sporkful.

"To me, bibimbap is like the hamburger for Americans," she says.

Sunny and I talk about all the things we love about bibimbap -- especially the crunchy layer of burnt rice at the bottom (called noo roong ji in Korean).

In the course of obsessing about the dish, we actually came up with a new way to make bibimbap even more delicous. But you'll have to listen in to the full episode for that big reveal.

This week's episode of The Sporkful podcast is up! Listen through the player or iTunes/Podcasts app. (And please subscribe!)

Connect with me on TwitterInstagram and Facebook!

Interstitial music in this episode by BWN Music:

- "Pong" by Kenneth J. Brahmstedt

- "Can You Dig It" by Cullen Fitzpatrick

- "Fresh Air" by Erick Anderson

Photos: John Lee (courtesy of Sunny Anderson), FlickrCC

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