Feature   Know Your Military

Sunny Anderson, Former Air Force Broadcaster, Now a Food Network Star

Jan. 5, 2022 | BY David Vergun , DOD News

Before she became a celebrity chef on Food Network's "The Kitchen," Sunny Anderson was an Air Force broadcast journalist.

Anderson, born in Lawton, Oklahoma, April 9, 1975, grew up as an Army brat, which is an endearing term for children of active-duty parents. She moved from place to place around the world. She said that experience allowed her to sample many local cuisines with her parents who were enthusiastic eaters of international cuisines.

A woman observes a chef at work.
Sunny Anderson
Sunny Anderson, a Food Network celebrity chef, visits Fort Lee, Va., May 16 to 17, 2011.
Photo By: Army
VIRIN: 110517-O-D0439-004

After graduating from Madison High School in San Antonio, Texas, she joined the Air Force in June 1993, and served as a military radio host in Seoul, South Korea. She then worked for Air Force News Agency radio and television in San Antonio from 1993 to 1997. Anderson was honorably discharged from the Air Force in June 1997 as a senior airman.

In 2011, Anderson visited Fort Lee, Virginia, home of the Defense Department's Joint Culinary Center of Excellence. Her goal was to showcase the great work of the multiservice culinary instructors and students.

She gave words of encouragement to the students as they chopped, sliced and diced their way through their food preparation testing. 

A woman chats with a chef.
Sunny's Smile
Sunny Anderson, a Food Network personality, visits Fort Lee, Va., May 16 to 17, 2011.
Photo By: Army
VIRIN: 110517-O-D0439-005
A woman poses with culinary school students.
Fort Lee Crew
Sunny Anderson, a Food Network personality, visits Fort Lee, Va., May 16 to 17, 2011.
Photo By: Army
VIRIN: 110517-O-D0439-003

After eating a healthy portion of the chow that the students had prepared, she noted that it was completely different than when she was in the military years earlier. Anderson said the quality of the field rations and the preparation of them had really improved.

Some of her career highlights:

Between 1995 and 2001, Anderson worked as a radio personality at KCJZ and KONO-FM in San Antonio; WYLD-FM and KUMX in Fort Polk, Louisiana; WJWZ in Montgomery, Alabama; and WDTJ in Detroit, Michigan.

A woman fires a gun.
Sunny Shot
Sunny Anderson, a Food Network celebrity chef, visits Fort Lee, Va., May 16 to 17, 2011.
Photo By: Army
VIRIN: 110517-O-D0439-002C

Anderson moved to New York City in 2001 and worked as a radio personality for "HOT 97" (WQHT) from 2001 to 2003. From 2003 to 2005, she was the owner of Sunny's Delicious Dishes, a catering company based in Jersey City, New Jersey.

She began hosting "How'd That Get On My Plate?" in July 2008. She also began hosting  the Food Network program "Cooking for Real" in April 2008, and she served as co-host with Marc Istook of the Food Network program "Gotta Get It," starting in April 2007.

In 2006 and 2007, she was the Food and Lifestyle Editor for "Hip Hop Weekly" magazine.

A woman visits with troops.
Fort Lee Visit
Sunny Anderson, a Food Network personality, visits Fort Lee, Va., May 16 to 17, 2011.
Photo By: Army
VIRIN: 110517-O-D0439-001

In January 2014, Anderson became a co-host on the Food Network's series "The Kitchen," along with Jeff Mauro, Katie Lee, Marcela Valladolid and Geoffrey Zakarian. The show is currently in its 27th season.

Anderson has been a guest chef on several talk shows and morning news programs including "The Rachael Ray Show," "Good Morning America," "The Early Show," "The View," "The Talk," and "The Wendy Williams Show."