New Cheflebrity Alex Guarnaschelli

One of the most popular pieces I ever postified.  Oddly the most common search phrase that brought people to it was “Alex Guarnaschelli bitch.”  They said it, Alex, not me.  I think you’re adorable.  Originally published on August 28, 2008.

With her new show just weeks from airing here’s a chance to get to know The Cooking Loft’s Alex Guarnaschelli in this interview from The Next Blog:

Sautéed Florida Shrimp with Arugula Leaves, Crispy Duck Confit, Tomato-Capor Raviolini… All of those dishes sound absolutely divine; they also sound like nothing we could cook up here at ThisNext.  Good thing there are chefs out there that can cook up such delicious dishes without setting the kitchen ablaze.

ThisNext chats with Executive Chef, Alex Guarnaschelli from New York’s Butter Restaurant to find out what’s cooking in her kitchen.

TN: What is Butter’s most popular dish?
AG: My grilled halibut with roasted asparagus and a squash emulsion. It was supposed to be a soup but I turned it into a sauce and had it on the menu for four years. One time I took it off for a short period and customers started asking for it so I put it back on and it’s been with me every since. When I look back it’s always the most popular dish.

TN: What is your favorite food?
To eat: Eggplant Parmesan and piping hot blueberry pie with way too much hagan daazs vanilla and a ton of lemon zest.  To cook: fish and salads. I love to make fresh vegetable salads. I’ve always really loved seasonality of ingredients. I couldn’t live without hitting the green market.

TN: Why do you have such a green focus?
AG: It dictates what I buy. I go to the local market a few blocks away and it’s an easy way to see what people are up to and what’s growing. My favorite equipment of all are vegetables.

TN: Do you have a most memorable dish story you can share?
I went to a hole in the wall in Nice, a place called la Miranda with no phone, no reservations. It’s very informal. You go in and sit on a stool at a table it’s very informal. At the time the wife served and the husband cooked. The wife sat my colleague and I and down. I looked over and saw the cook pan-frying something in olive oil and it looked just perfect. He then took the pasta, steaming, out of the water and dropped it steaming hot into a vibrant green basil pesto and that waft of steam gushed from his bowl and into my nostrils. He quickly tossed the basil pesto with the pasta and it was the best dish I’ve ever had.

TN: What is always in your fridge?
At home I always have a bottle of champagne. I like a couple of different brands but my favorites are Camille Saves Rose or Bollinger. Both are French champagnes and I always have one or both on hand. Also 8-10 jars of mustards, none of which I can ever finish and lingenberry jam. I always have way too much brie. I’m a classic girl and don’t like the bells and whistles, just give me a slab of cheese. My favorite is straight Brie De Meux from a place outside of Paris.

TN: Being a pro chef, do you spend a lot of time in your own kitchen?
None. If I had more free time I would. I love to cook but I think it’s OK for a chef to say, “Hey I just spent 12 hours in the kitchen and for the other 12 I have left I am going to be outside the kitchen.” I just got married and my husband loves to cook so I let him do it.

TN: Which is your most important room in your house? Why?
The bathrooms because it’s quiet and cool in there, the things I don’t often get to enjoy in a [restaurant] kitchen. When I close the door I feel like everyone is going to leave me alone for a few minutes. Also, I’m a soap collector, like a squirrel in winter hording nuts. I can have up to 20 soaps on hand at any time. Roger Gallet is a favorite. They make a lot of different vegetable and fruit based soaps. One is lettuce scented and is a cross of freshly moved grass and the best salad I’ve ever eaten. He also has a tomato soap that I like.

TN: How would you describe the style of your home?
I would say it’s a mix of classical and modern. Kind of like Ikea meets the Mediterranean. It’s more on the modern size but I have my classical touches. I love a good oriental rug and some hardwood floors and maybe a scratched steel coffee table.

TN: How would you describe your fashion style?
AG: I am seven months pregnant so I am very disconnected from my wardrobe right now. Typically I buy a lot of Betsey Johnson. I also love calypso and Lolita Lempicka but I also have sweat pants from the Gap. I don’t shop at H&M and I don’t shop at Target. Not because I don’t like them but because I don’t believe anything that cheap can really be that good.

TN: Prized possession?
A Vitaprep blender. If I could bring it home and hide it under my bed every night I would feel much safer in the world. It’s looks similar to a frappuccino blender and is good for everything. I couldn’t make a soup or a sauce without it. The one at Butter is model number VM0101. This is my number one choice for a blender or food processor.

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Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
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2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
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2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
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