Alex Guarnaschelli

Chef, TV Personality

New York

Chef and TV personality Alex Guarnaschelli is the executive chef at New York City’s Butter and the host of several Food Network shows. The daughter of a cookbook author, she began her career at Larry Forgione’s An American Place after graduating from Barnard College in 1991. Alex went on to receive a Grand Diplome from Ecole de Cuisine La Varenne in Burgundy, France. She worked under Guy Savoy in Paris and then became sous chef at Savoy’s bistro La Butte Chaillot. Before joining Butter in 2003, she also worked with Daniel Boulud in New York City and Joachim Splichal at Patina in Los Angeles. In addition to her work at Butter, Guarnaschelli is a Chef-Instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education, helms the kitchen of the New York modern dining and cabaret concept The Darby and is a recurring judge on the series Chopped.

  • On June 19
    Tom Flournoy is now following Alex Guarnaschelli
  • On May 28
    Alex Guarnaschelli answered the question: Alex Guarnaschelli

    When is the best time to visit New York City?

    The seasons are a little blurred so to speak, but I’m really cool with August through November because you can buy tomatoes and squash at the same time. You can have an heirloom tomato salad and then you can make roasted squash soup and get the best — kind of straddle the two seasons. I’m really partial to that time of year.
  • On May 28
    Alex Guarnaschelli answered the question: Alex Guarnaschelli

    What are the best things to do in New York City?

    I really love to pretend that the whole neighborhood of Little Italy is alive and well, so I go to Alleva Dairy on Mulberry and Grand streets to get some cheese — mozzarella, whatever. Then I go across the street to Ferrara Bakery & Café, where I sit and eat warm Italian pastries and drink too much coffee. Then I go diagonally across the street and go to Di Palo’s to get prosciutto and olives. I pretend that I’m in an Old World Italian neighborhood — that’s something I’ve literally done all my life. My parents took me to those places when I was a kid and I take my daughter now. That’s really big in my heart. I feel like people want to say, ‘Go to the Bronx or go to Brooklyn and eat old school Italian food.’ And I agree with all of that; I love Arthur Avenue, for example, but Little Italy is my Italian ritual and I do that when I need to feel Italian.

    I love to go to La Grenouille — it’s one of my favorite restaurants in the city. I love sort of an old world French restaurant because I lived in Paris for a number of years.

    I love to go to the Strand Book Store on 12th Street. I like the smell of old books, and I like to go in there and just pick up a few books. I love old school bookstores — I’m kind of obsessed. I love the Strand; I love Kitchen Arts & Letters, which is another bookstore on Lexington Avenue and 94th Street.

    I like to pick apart The Morgan Library & Museum. I like a manageable size museum or exhibit. Just when I start to get bored and think about the fact that I secretly want to be either eating in the cafeteria or spending money I don’t have in the gift shop, it’s over and that’s part of what quantifies a nice palatable exhibit to me.

    A walk along the West Side Highway is pretty underrated. I like to ride my bike actually up the West Side Highway. I start around 23rd Street on the West Side and I just ride straight up to the George Washington Bridge and there’s a way of looking out on everything — it’s so grandiose and big. Plus, you can enjoy a moment of quiet and solitude by the river.

    Sometimes I like things in New York that aren’t activity driven but they just give you a feeling for the place even though we’re looking at New Jersey. I like to go to The Water Club and sit on the upstairs outdoor deck and drink Sauvignon Blanc for no reason at all. I think that’s important. I like to look at the old Pepsi-Cola sign when you go along the FDR Drive.
  • On May 28
    Alex Guarnaschelli answered the question: Alex Guarnaschelli

    How does Alex Guarnaschelli pack when she travels?

    No matter where I’m going, I always overpack and regret it and curse myself the entire time. I end up wearing the same two pairs of pants and T-shirts. I feel like I’m going to dress up if I take dress clothes, and then I don’t have to wear them because they are in my suitcase. I take a really nice necklace. It’s amazing what you can tell yourself you’ve done when you’ve done nothing but put on a necklace. I always take my laptop and a stack of magazines that I have to catch up on. I always take a book, which I rarely finish, and a couple of notebooks. I like to take a lot of notes and I like to handwrite them when I’m not at home for some reason. There’s something about the ritual behind handwriting.
  • On May 28
    Alex Guarnaschelli answered the question: Alex Guarnaschelli

    What does Alex Guarnaschelli look for in a restaurant?

    I think I have a couple of different things that make me go in certain places. One, I love when there’s a signature food [dish] in a place where I am — for example, the fried stuffed ravioli in St. Louis. I always find out and research signature foods. I love knowing what’s local in terms of ingredients and an iconic food.

    I always try to go to the farmers market wherever I am. I think it’s so telling of a place. I like to look at the vegetables. And then of course, I’m also driven by people — people that I’ve met that I love, people that are interesting, someone who’s written a great cookbook — and that propels me to go to the restaurant. It’s not just cutting edge [food] because I have to say I also like seafood and that is not like what I make. I love to eat Italian food. I love good Chinese food. I think the great Chinese restaurant is a dying art.
  • On May 28
    Alex Guarnaschelli answered the question: Alex Guarnaschelli

    What does Alex Guarnaschelli collect when she travels?

    I have a lot of friends who collect all sorts of things. This may sound boring, but I do — I collect menus. I am shameless. I leave the beautiful leather covers, but I roll up the menus and put them in my pocket, so I am a low-grade thief. They are not only a great memory to have, but it’s about the travel experience. You don’t always remember what you ate. Or you do remember, but having the whole menu at home with you reminds you of the context of the experience. The whole memory. A big part of a restaurant, whether we realize it or not, is the ritual of changing the menu. I find it’s the best way to reenact it. It’s a temporary art form. That’s thing about an edible art form — it’s fleeting.

    I always bring home ingredients, wine or vinegar. I can get a little crazy with the oil and vinegar, so if you ship my suitcase, you can make a salad dressing.
  • On May 28
    Andi Berens is now following Alex Guarnaschelli
  • On May 28
    Alex Guarnaschelli answered the question: Alex Guarnaschelli

    What are Alex Guarnaschelli’s favorite cities?

    I am smitten with Charleston. The connection that this small group of chefs have is inspiring, as is the great food that they are creating. They are working with ingredients from around the world, like mangos, that come in — and have been for a long time — as it is an important port city. But they are also handling seasonal and regional food beautifully. Mike Lata at FIG. Sean Brock at Husk — he has his own garden and making all kinds of beautiful charcuterie. The cocktail scene is thriving there.

    I love to just walk around. I love to have a great lunch and walk around all those beautiful squares and historic mansions and homes and go to Fort Sumter. Very historic and very relevant to American history. That is important to me. Really important. And to walk off a meal while I am traveling is important. When you walk you see so much. And all the Gullah history and cuisine is important. Real America. Oh and just to have delicious, simple hominy and biscuits. A good walk after that is very necessary.

    I really like Nyack, New York. I like all of the antiques, the way it feels up there and that the air smells like spearmint gum. It’s really peaceful. I do a lot of traveling, and I go to Miami quite a bit and to Los Angeles. I don’t mean to be boring, but I really love Los Angeles and I feel like it’s underrated. I just think Los Angeles has become an amazing place. I love to go to the farmers market there and just watch the artichokes breathe and I love to just eat nectarines until my stomach hurts. There’s just something really special about it. I also love San Diego because it’s kind of off the beaten path. I love going to Chino Farms in Rancho Santa Fe and just buying tons of heirloom beans and cooking them.
  • On April 17, 2013
  • On March 29, 2013
  • On March 29, 2013
  • On March 29, 2013
  • On March 29, 2013
  • On March 29, 2013
    Hayley Bosch is now following Alex Guarnaschelli
  • On March 29, 2013