10 Things You Didn't Know About Alex Guarnaschelli

10 Things You Didn't Know About Alex Guarnaschelli
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10 Things You Didn't Know About Alex Guarnaschelli

Read on to learn 10 things you didn't know about chef and Food Network star Alex Guarnaschelli.

Image Credit: Alex Guarnaschelli

Her earliest memory of cooking

Alex's earliest memory of cooking is making a classic French beef stew with her mother as a child. "It’s called a Daube de Boeuf, and it’s a simple braised beef stew with carrots and onions. I just remember it cooking and changing hour to hour as it cooked," Alex reminisces. "It started out as one thing, and I was sort of astounded by … how when finished, it was just radically different."

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If she hadn't become a chef

"I really wanted to be a marine biologist," Alex reveals. "My joke was that I was initially thinking that I would start out on the hunt for the giant colossal squid, and instead I wound up deep-frying it. I have a great fascination for the ocean, particularly sharks. I just think they’re beautiful." (Alex notes that she doesn't eat or cook them.)

While Alex used to think about a different career path, she says she can't imagine it now. "I think the ocean would rebel against me for all that I’ve cooked," she jokes.

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The foods she can't live without

"I’d be really upset if there were no cherries. I’d also be really upset if there was no duck. Those are probably my two favorite things," Alex reveals. "Duck is the gift that keeps on giving: The thighs, the fat, the breast meat, the bones, the carcasses the neck, the liver."

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The foods she can live without

While Alex clearly loves food, there are a few items she just doesn't enjoy. "I really hate pattypan squash. I think that I’ve cooked too many mussels to ever eat them again, and when I see a container of Arborio rice in the market, I break out in a small sweat—and not in a good sense," Alex shares.

"The pattypans are purely because they upset me. The rice and the mussels are because I’ve just cooked my way through so many that ... I just can’t. It’s over," Alex admits.

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Greatest culinary influence

Alex says that her biggest culinary influence and mentor is Guy Savoy, who has an eponymous restaurant in Paris. She worked for him for many years in Paris after attending culinary school in France. "I still hear his voice inside my head when I’m cooking, all these years later," Alex says. "I think every cook has a couple of voices, mentor voices, that they hear. I’d have to say he’s still the loudest one."

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Her one obsessive kitchen habit

Every time Alex walks through the kitchen, she says she imagines herself as a pantry cook and immediately heads for the pantry to start making a salad—no matter what. "There could be a party of 100 people that are only having roast beef, and I’ll be in the pantry worrying about the two salads," Alex admits. "I’m pretty obsessive about that."

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Her favorite dish to cook

While Alex is obsessive about salad at work, she says she never cooks it at home. One of her favorite things to make at home is something her father made when she was growing up, and now her own daughter loves. "My dad would buy a Boston or a Spanish mackerel and put a little olive oil and salt on it. He’d heat a pan in the oven, and then open the door and throw the whole fish on the hot pan, shut the door, cook it for 10 or 15 minutes, take it out and just squeeze lemon over it and eat it like that. I never thought my daughter would go for it … and she loves it," Alex shares. "She drew the fish the last time we ate it. She’s not going to be a marine biologist either..."

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Instead of hating on the trend

Alex's philosophy on food trends is: If you don't like it, ignore it. "Sometimes a trend gets me thinking. I might cook something else in reaction to a trend I don’t like, instead of hating on the trend," she shares. "I was joking on Twitter that I was going to make 2014 the year of the flan, in rebellion to the cupcake. Needless to say that the year of the flan has been a complete failure, but I did enjoy the thought—and it got me thinking about flan."

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The best kitchen advice

"Sometimes when you’re cooking, you’re not doing anything. You’re waiting for something to cook. And that place of stillness, that still moment when you let an ingredient do its part of the job is a valuable thing to have the patience to wait for," Alex shares. "I feel like people are always thinking they’ve got to be constantly running around when they’re cooking. Sometimes you’ve just got to stand there and give it a minute. We always talk about resting meat, but a cook taking a rest to let something rest, that’s underrated."

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Foods she hasn't yet mastered

While she's been cooking for years, Alex admits there are still many things she wants to master. "Can we make a list?" she jokes. "I really want to know how to make something really great out of pulled sugar. I’ve always wanted to make a flan with 14 layers of sugar wings. I really would like to make great chocolates ... and I would like to make a great loaf of sourdough bread," Alex reveals. "I’m thinking that each of these things is going to take about 10 years each, so I’ll put them on my calendar."

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Alex Guarnaschelli spent her childhood surrounded by food. Her first memory of cooking is making stew alongside her mother, a cookbook editor. Since then, she's worked in France with Guy Savoy and in New York City with Daniel Boulud. Now, Alex is a powerhouse on the culinary scene as executive chef of Butter Restaurant in midtown Manhattan and makes frequent Food Network appearances as a judge on Chopped.

While you may know her as an Iron Chef, Alex shared with us a few fun facts about herself that you probably aren't aware of (including what she does every time she walks into a kitchen).

Check out the slideshow above to learn 10 things you didn't know about Alex Guarnaschelli. Then, get ready for Thanksgiving with Alex's 10 foolproof Thanksgiving dinner tips and her favorite Thanksgiving traditions, and discover her secrets to being a great home cook!

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