There are few American chefs, much less female chefs, who can boast staying power in
Michelin-starred restaurants. Chef Alexandra Guarnaschelli can boast indeed — she
embarked on a culinary journey in France and ended up working in some of the country’s
top restaurants including esteemed chef Guy Savoy’s eponymous three-star kitchen.
Not surprising for the daughter of esteemed cookbook editor Maria Guarnaschelli, who
spent her childhood surrounded by food. Guarnaschelli learned to eat according to
whatever book her mother was working on at the time: one year was devoted to Indian with
Classic Indian Cooking by Julie Sahni; another year was devoted to Italian with The Splendid
Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper.
“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 emphasis on her palate truly shaped her future in food. On the day of
Guarnaschelli’s graduation from Barnard College in 1991, she decided to explore her
culinary interests and began working under the tutelage of the acclaimed American chef
and restaurateur Larry Forgione.
Forgione encouraged Guarnaschelli to travel and expand her skill set, so she obligingly
moved to France to do a work study at La Varenne Culinary School in Burgundy. After
school and traveling throughout France, she moved to Paris to begin a four day stage at the
Michelin three-star restaurant Guy Savoy. Four days turned into four years with
Guarnaschelli rapidly being promoted to sous chef at La Butte Chaillot, another Savoy
establishment. “The first three months were terrifying — imagine being a young American
woman in charge of a French kitchen with 10 young, male cooks under you? Professionally,
it was a life-changing experience,” she says.
After seven successful years in France, Guarnaschelli returned stateside. Though she left the
country, she maintained her connection with the cuisine, joining the venerable Daniel
Boulud at restaurant Daniel, where she quickly rose through the ranks to become sous chef
at the Manhattan standard. Always looking to expand her culinary knowledge, Guarnaschelli
moved to Los Angeles for two years to join Joachim Splichal’s Patina Group, where she
worked 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 was given the opportunity to expand her repertoire and become the
executive chef at Butter Restaurant, where she would create her own eclectic American and
green market-inspired menu. In addition to her restaurant work, Guarnaschelli inspires
budding chefs as a Chef-Instructor at New York City’s Institute of Culinary Education.
Guarnaschelli also helmed the kitchen of the NYC modern dining and cabaret concept, The
Darby. In Fall of 2015, Chef Guarnaschelli opened Driftwood Room at Nautilus South Beach
in Miami, Florida. Also in Fall 2015, Guarnaschelli premiered her one-woman live comedy
show, Busting My Chops at Carolines on Broadway. Alex continued her comedy career with
an appearance in East Hampton at CAROLINES @ THE BEACH in August 2016. Most recently,
Guarnaschelli was named the Head of Twitter’s Food Council, a group of leading culinary
figures who regularly join the Twitter conversation on all things food and food culture.
Chef Guarnaschelli is a recurring judge on several Food Network prime-time series such as
Chopped, Cooks vs. Cons and Bakers vs. Fakers. In April 2017, Alex appeared as a judge on
Food Network’s new series Iron Chef Gauntlet. She has appeared on Food Network’s Iron
Chef America as both a challenger and a judge and competed 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 won the last season of Food Network’s
Guy’s Superstar Grocery Games in September 2016 and was a mentor on the second season
of Food Network’s All-Star Academy. Alex hosted her own shows, The Cooking Loft and Alex’s
Day Off, which launched in October 2009. Most recently, she has appeared on NBC’s Late
Night with Seth Meyers, NBC’s TODAY, The Dr. Oz Show, ABC’s Good Morning America and
ABC’s Live! with Kelly. Alex has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The New York
Times, Food & Wine, Food Network Magazine and Every Day with Rachael Ray.
Alex released her first cookbook, “Old-School Comfort Food: The Way I Learned to Cook”, in
Spring 2013. Alex’s second cookbook, “The Home Cook: Recipes to Know by Heart”, comes
out on September 26, 2017.