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Alex Guarnaschelli

Alex Guarnaschelli
Executive Chef, Butter Restaurant and the Darby

There are few American chefs, much less female chefs that can boast staying power in Michelin-starred restaurants. Executive Chef Alexandra Guarnaschelli of Butter Restaurant [415 Lafayette St. 212.253.2828] and the Darby [244 West 14th Street. 212.242-4411] 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 was year 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 to New York and joined 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.

In 2003, Guarnaschelli was given the opportunity to become the executive chef at Butter Restaurant, where she creates her own American and green market-inspired menu. She also opened The Darby, a Supper Club, in 2011. In addition to her restaurant work, Guarnaschelli instructed budding chefs as a Chef-Instructor at New York City’s Institute of Culinary Education for 6 years and has become a member of the ICE Advisory Council.

Guarnaschelli has many national television appearances that really began by hosting “Alex’s Day Off”, a show produced by Bobby Flay. She also is a regular judge on the primetime show Chopped, has appeared on The Next Iron Chef and recently won The Next Iron Chef, Season 5, earning her the title of Iron Chef. She has also enjoyed appearances on Good Morning America, CBS Morning Show, The Rachael Ray Show and Dr. Oz. She has been featured in The New York Times, New York, Time Out New York and People. She has a blog on Food Network’s Website.


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