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About Alex Guarnaschelli
The daughter of esteemed cookbook editor Maria Guarnaschelli, as a child Guarnaschelli received a global education in food as she was raised on the cuisine of whatever book her mother happened to be working on at the time. During a year devoted to her mother's work on the manuscript of Classic Indian Cooking by Julie Sahni, Indian cuisine starred at the dinner table; months spent working on Lynne Rossetto Kasper's The Splendid Table ensured that Italian food appeared regularly on the menu. But it was not the younger Guarnaschelli's fate to be only a spectator; her mother urged her to be a participant.
"My mother was always coaxing me from my 'Barbie land' under the dining room table to peel potatoes, knead bread or assemble a trifle," says Guarnaschelli, who jokingly continues, "what else could a seven-year-old have wanted from life?"
This early exposure to the foods of the world both expanded her palate and determined her future. In 1991, after Guarnaschelli graduated from Barnard College, she decided to explore her culinary interests and began working under the tutelage of the acclaimed American chef and restaurateur Larry Forgione at "An American Place".
Sensing both her innate talent and need for wider experience, Forgione encouraged Guarnaschelli to travel and expand her skill set. Taking his advice, she moved to France to do a work-study at La Varenne Culinary School in Burgundy.
After earning her Grand Diplôme in Culinary Arts, she traveled throughout France before moving to Paris to begin a four-day stage at the Michelin three-star Restaurant Guy Savoy. Four days turned into over six years with Guarnaschelli rapidly being promoted to sous chef at La Butte Chaillot, another Savoy establishment.
After seven successful years in France, Guarnaschelli returned to the States to join the venerable Daniel Boulud at Manhattan's iconic Restaurant Daniel, where she quickly rose through the ranks to become sous chef. Thereafter, seeking to further expand her culinary knowledge, Guarnaschelli moved to Los Angeles for two years to join Joachim Splichal's Patina Group, working at the acclaimed Patina Restaurant in West Hollywood before moving to New York to open Splichal's first New York City venture.
In 2003, Guarnaschelli became the executive chef at Butter Restaurant, which provided the opportunity for her to develop a menu based on her own choices and point of view. Guarnaschelli created an American menu spotlighting local ingredients in dishes that allowed their flavors to shine.
In 2011, following the success of Butter, she opened The Darby, a unique supper club. In addition to restaurant work, Guarnaschelli also spent a few years instructing budding professional chefs as a Chef-Instructor at New York City's Institute of Culinary Education, becoming a member of the ICE Advisory Council. In fall 2015, Guarnaschelli opened Driftwood Room at Nautilus South Beach in Miami, Florida and operated the restaurant, successfully, for over 2 years.
In a departure from the kitchen to the stage, in 2015 Guarnaschelli premiered her one-woman live comedy show, Busting My Chops, at Caroline's on Broadway and also appeared in East Hampton at CAROLINES @ THE BEACH in August 2016.
Guarnaschelli is a judge on Food Network's prime-time series Chopped (which earned each of the judges a James Beard Foundation Award for best Television Program), Beat Bobby Flay and Grocery Games. Alex has appeared as a judge on Iron Chef Gauntlet, and as both a challenger and a judge on Food Network's Iron Chef America where she went on to compete on season 4 of The Next Iron Chef. In 2012, she beat nine rival chefs to win The Next Iron Chef: Redemption and joined the ranks of Kitchen Stadium Iron Chefs. Guarnaschelli also won Food Network's Guy's Superstar Grocery Games in September 2016, winning $40,00 for the charity of her choice: Alex's Lemonade Stand.
Alex has also hosted her own daytime instructional cooking shows, The Cooking Loft and Alex's Day Off. She has appeared on NBC's Late Night with Seth Meyers, NBC's TODAY SHOW, The Dr. Oz Show and ABC's Good Morning America. She has participated, recurrently, in "The Dish on Oz" with Dr. Oz. She is presently hosting her own primetime show on Food Network "Supermarket Stakeout", is co-judging Food Network's primetime hit show "Worst Cooks in America" and a recurring co-host on Food Network's Daytime Emmy nominated talk show, "The Kitchen."
Alex has been featured in publications such as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Food & Wine, Food Network Magazine and Every Day with Rachael Ray. In 2018, Food Network launched Alex's digital series Fix Me a Plate, in which the New York native takes audiences on an insider's tour of the city's best no-frills food spots. The second season launched in Spring 2020.
Alex released her first cookbook, "Old-School Comfort Food: The Way I Learned to Cook", in spring 2013, which became a New York Times bestseller. In fall 2017, Alex's second cookbook, "The Home Cook: Recipes to Know by Heart", is still in print won praise from outlets such as Publisher's Weekly which noted that "...Guarnaschelli nicely chronicles the changes in a shifting culinary landscape." Alex is releasing her third cookbook, "Cook with Me: 150 Recipes for the Home Cook" in October 2020 and also has a memoir in the works...
Alex works with many charities but focuses largely on "Alex's Lemonade Stand": a charity that seeks to end childhood cancer through funded trials and research. She also works with City Harvest and No Kid Hungry that are both fighting to end ginger and food instability in the U.S. She shops frequently at The Union Square Greenmarket and enjoys her long-term relationships with farmers.
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“Each recipe overflows with love and purpose, technique and soul, and, most of all, genuine joy for nourishing the people in your life who matter most.”—Gail Simmons, food expert, TV host, and author of Bringing it Home
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST COOKBOOKS OF THE YEAR BY NPR AND FOOD NETWORK
Growing up with a legendary cookbook-editor mother and a food-obsessed father, Alex Guarnaschelli has always loved to cook. Now, with a daughter of her own, food and cooking mean even more to Alex—they are a way for her to share memories, such as shopping in Little Italy with her father for cured meats and aged cheeses, and tasting the recipes her mom would make from the cookbooks of the iconic authors she worked with.
And, more than anything, cooking is what Alex and her daughter, Ava, most love to do together. In Cook with Me, Alex revives the recipes she grew up with, such as her mom’s chicken with barbecue sauce and her dad’s steamed pork dumplings, offers recipes for foods that she wishes she grew up with, such as comforting and cheesy baked ziti, and details dishes new to her repertoire, including sheet pan pork chops with spicy Brussels sprouts and a roasted sweet potato salad with honey and toasted pumpkin seeds. From meatballs two ways (are you a Godfather or a Goodfellas person?) to the blueberry crumble her mom made every summer, Alex shares recipes and insights that can come only from generations of collective experience. These recipes reflect the power that food has to bring people together and is a testament to the importance of sustaining traditions and creating new ones.
For Alex Guarnaschelli—whose mother edited the seminal 1997 edition of The Joy of Cooking, which defined the food of the late twentieth century—a life in food and cookbooks was almost predestined. Now an accomplished chef and author in her own right (and mom to a young daughter), Alex pens a cookbook for the way we eat today. For generations raised on vibrant, international flavors and supermarkets stocked with miso paste, harissa, and other bold condiments and ingredients, here are 300 recipes to replace their parents’ Chicken Marbella, including Glazed Five-Spice Ribs, Roasted Eggplant Dip with Garlic Butter Naan, Roasted Beef Brisket with Pastrami Rub, Fennel and Orange Salad with Walnut Pesto, Quinoa Allspice Oatmeal Cookies, and Dark Chocolate Rum Pie.
Alex Guarnaschelli grew up in a home suffused with a love of cooking, where soufflés and cheeseburgers were equally revered. The daughter of a respected cookbook editor and a Chinese cooking enthusiast, Alex developed a passion for food at a young age, sealing her professional fate. Old-School Comfort Food shares her journey from waist-high taste-tester to trained chef who now adores spending time in the kitchen with her daughter, along with the 100 recipes for how she learned to cook—and the way she still loves to eat.
Here are Alex’s secrets to great home cooking, where humble ingredients and familiar preparations combine with excellent technique and care to create memorable meals. Alex brings her recipes to life with reminiscences of everything from stealing tomatoes from her aunt’s garden and her first bite of her mother’s pâté to being one of the few women in the kitchen of a renowned Parisian restaurant and serving celebrity clientele in her own successful New York City establishments. With 75 color photographs and ephemera, Old-School Comfort Food is Alex’s love letter to deliciousness.
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