Q&A with Chopped and Iron Chef star Alex Guarnaschelli
Food Network star Alex Guarnaschelli to appear in 5 US cities for Wine & Food Experience.
Chef of 18 years at renowned New York eatery Butter Midtown and Star of Food Network’s ‘Chopped,’ Alex Guarnaschelli shares her day in and out of the kitchen. She joins the USA TODAY Wine & Food Experience tour in 5 cities in 2019.
What is your morning routine?
I am usually up at around 5:45 a.m. and immediately need coffee! While the coffee brews, I throw on a quick under eye mask to help freshen my eyes. My daughter Ava gets up and needs breakfast and I give some words of encouragement as she goes off to school. I often go to the gym, Tracy Anderson or a cycling class. After that, anything goes.
What inspired you to be a chef?
My inspiration for becoming a chef are my parents. I always loved to eat but I also loved watching my parents cook. My father enjoyed cooking Chinese food while my mother took a liking to French cuisine. The fun, creative energy my parents had together in the kitchen led me to start my culinary career.
Who’s your mentor?
Guy Savoy. He’s the best. He always believes in me no matter what.
Describe your formal training.
I worked for Larry Forgione at his restaurant “An American Place” in New York City for a couple of years. I then went to culinary school in Burgundy and then worked for almost 7 years for Guy Savoy at his eponymous 3-star Michelin Parisian restaurant. I then returned to New York and work for Daniel Boulud at Restaurant Daniel for two years and then for Joachim Splichal at Patina in Los Angeles. I have been the chef at Butter for 18 years.
What do you get out of participating in the USA TODAY Wine & Food Experience?
I love the idea of being in various parts of the country and getting to meet fellow food lovers. Cooking and sharing experiences from the professional kitchen is always fun for me. People learn from me and I learn from them. It’s nice to feel connected.
What do you like to cook at home?
My daughter and I cook dinner together quite often. We usually will make pork chops and a side. She and I also enjoy getting up early on the weekends to make a killer breakfast! Pancakes, eggs, bacon… the whole nine yards.
What’s your favorite dish to eat?
Doughnuts, all day every day.
What’s your favorite holiday dish?
A sugar Cranberry pie at Thanksgiving. I also love making egg nog from scratch at Christmas.
What was your best day ever in the kitchen?
The first time I successfully cooked a piece of fish that I had butchered myself at Restaurant Guy Savoy. Sounds like a small thing but, for me, it wasn’t.
Who is the coolest person you’ve cooked for?
Prince is definitely at the top of the list. I cooked for him many times. Nothing compares to that.
What’s your favorite food trend happening right now?
Plant based substitutes for meat. Quality ingredients. Fast casual food.
Tell us something you would like your followers to know about you.
I have a deep love of old, classic cars. Muscle cars in particular. Barrett Jackson auctions make my heart rate increase.
How do you end your day?
I make dinner and help my daughter, Ava with homework. She’s getting smarter than I am so that won’t last much longer…
What’s the weirdest food combination that you enjoy?
After ten years of weird food combinations on Chopped, nothing! My favorite combination is buttered sourdough toast with a sprinkle of salt!
What new plans or projects do you have in store?
I was in LA a few weeks ago filming for my new show on Food Network airing in August! I am super excited about it.
What achievement are you most proud of?
My daughter. End of story.
What advice would you give to aspiring chefs?
I advise aspiring chefs to never lose their sense of curiously and never stop practicing the craft.
What advice would you give to cooks at home?
Cook what you like and enjoy it. It’s your time and money.
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