Hilarie Burton Loves A Good Meatloaf

Actress Hilarie Burton has come a long way since her days as an MTV VJ and as an actress in the never-ending story that was One Tree Hill. Burton returned to the small screen last year as top-shelf insurance investigator Sara Ellis on USA's hit series White Collar, which returns to USA for its third season on June 7. This Southern gal — she's from Sterling Park, Virginia — takes her comfort food seriously, and expects her man to mean it when he cooks. Men who shy away from expressing their domestic side need not apply... well, that, and that she's madly in love.

What's the BEST meal a guy's ever made you and why?

My Love is an artist in the kitchen, so my cup runneth over with options here. There's the pinwheel steak or the chilean sea bass or his indulgent spaghetti sauce. But my heart belongs to his meatloaf and mashed potatoes.

Is there a story behind this meal?

I was visiting him while he was working a job in New Mexico, and while exploring we happened across this amazing roadside diner called The Range Cafe. We fell in love with the place and bought its cookbook to try out at home. At some point I had told him that my mom's meatloaf was the meal I requested on birthdays, so when he found The Range's version in the cookbook, he promptly went about spoiling me with my favorite comfort food.

Why was it your favorite?

Because it showed that he listens. And he cares. And when he makes it now, it's a really wonderful postcard from that perfect trip in New Mexico.

What's your description of a perfect night?

A rowdy night of laughing with my Mister and our son before the little one's bedtime, and then an easy dinner on the porch, listening to the frogs and forest noises.

Does your man need to have culinary skills?

Well I never considered it a pre-requisite to falling in love. But as with all enjoyable surprises, once you have it, you wondered how you ever lived with out it.

Do you have a crush on a celebrity chef?

When I was little, we would watch Justin Wilson, the Cajun chef, on TV. Does that count?

Any pointers for a guy trying to make a romantic dinner which will lead (hopefully) to a romantic evening?

Don't you dare cook for a lady unless you mean it! It's not a casual evening. It's showing a domestic side of yourself that is otherwise lost in a haze of fantasy football and Deadliest Catch marathons. That being said, if you mean it, then you can do no wrong. If you mess up, you're adorable. If you make a 10-course masterpiece, then you're a catch.

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