The Spotted Cheetah, a New York City pop-up restaurant featuring an entire menu of Cheetos dishes, exists thanks to Chester the Cheetah — just kidding! The chef behind the dangerously cheesy recipes is Anne Burrell, a beloved Food Network star who has given us even more reason to be a fan. She spoke to me on the phone about the recipes she developed, which dishes she anticipates will be big hits, and where you can get all of the recipes so you can re-create them at home.
Anne jumped at the opportunity to work on the project because she loved having the opportunity to work on something as "iconic and fun as Cheetos" and hoped she could "add a dose of seriousness to the menu, but also just really embrace the sense of whimsy that goes along with it." She added the job had one obvious perk: "All the free Cheetos that we got to play around with and create with. Super fun." Though she had a blast creating the menu, she had no idea the pop-up would go viral. She explained, "I started getting texts and emails and stuff from friends of mine from across the country saying, 'Oh, my God. I saw you on Facebook. How do I get into the Cheetos restaurant? Can you help me get a reservation?' I have to say, truly, I had no idea that it was going to be this big."
Of all the menu items, both savory and sweet, Anne thinks the mac and Cheetos and Cheetos nachos are "going to be big hit[s]." While you may have crumbled Cheetos on top of mac and cheese before, Anne's version is heavy on the bacon and comes topped with Cheetos Puffs and Flamin' Hot Chipotle Ranch Cheetos. As for the Cheetos nachos, Anne replaces tortilla chips with good, old-fashioned original Cheetos. She drizzles Fontina cheese sauce and sausage ragu over the top, along "with regular nachos toppings like lettuce, tomatoes, pickled jalapeños, and sour cream." Anne says she wanted a "dose of [her] Italian kitchen" inserted into an iconic "American snack food."
If, like me, you are experiencing a particularly painful case of FOMO, don't worry. Anne informed me that the The Spotted Cheetah Digital Cookbook is now available for download on the restaurant website. Translation: you can make all of Anne's creations out of the comfort of your kitchen. "I wrote [the recipes]. They proudly represent Cheetos, so there's no reason to keep those secret," Anne said. Thank Chester for THAT.