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Chopped's Alex Guarnaschelli Shares Her Secret for Making Literally Anything Into a Meal

Chopped's Alex Guarnaschelli Shares Her Secret for Making Literally Anything Into a Meal


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The celebrity chef relies on a few quick recipes she uses all week.

When she's not busy judging food on Food Network's Chopped or running the kitchen at her New York restaurant Butter, Alex Guarnaschelli, who also cinched the title of "Iron Chef" back in 2012, is in charge of cooking for her 10-year-old daughter at home. And you might be surprised to hear that she actually doesn't meal prep in the traditional sense—instead, Guarnaschelli keeps a few things on hand to turn anything in her fridge or pantry into a meal.

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"I'm a really big sauce person," Guarnaschelli tells PopSugar. "And that's just the chef in me but I think it's something other people can do, too. I have a few sauces and vinaigrettes in the fridge at all times."

"Then I can just cook a piece of chicken or sear a pork chop and throw a dollop of sauce on there," Guarnaschelli says. "Sometimes I just make pasta. Sometimes I make a salad and just throw the dressing on it… I'll pretty much put it on anything, like a piece of fish, some cauliflower steak, a giant hunk of broccoli, even cabbage slaw."

We're big fans of Chef Guarnaschelli's approach to making anything in your pantry or fridge work, and her approach to using healthy, wholesome sauces liberally means you can enjoy what's essentially the same meal many different ways.

"You know what, I planned chicken, pork chops, and zoodles this week, but I accidentally ate pork carnitas for lunch and I don't want to eat pork again for dinner," Guarnaschelli told PopSugar. "There has to be a little breathing room. If you have those bases, then you get these bursts of flavor you can throw on anything."


Everyone Can Break Down a Whole Chicken in Their Kitchen

This class on the Food Network Kitchen app will show you how!

Related To:

Get The All-New Food Network Kitchen App

Download Food Network Kitchen now to sign up and take advantage of the latest offer and get 40+ live classes a week, hundreds of on-demand cooking classes, in-app grocery ordering and so much more.

In this series, we're showing off some of the coolest recipes, tips and tricks we've learned from chefs in the all-new Food Network Kitchen app.

There are cooking techniques I use on a nearly daily basis in my kitchen. Boiling pasta, scrambling eggs, frying up chicken cutlets. The basics. Not happening in my kitchen, like, ever? Breaking down a whole chicken. That is, until now.

In the past, like most people, I would buy my chicken in pre-cut pieces. If a recipe called for a mix of thighs, wings and breasts, I would buy pound-sized packages of each and freeze whatever I didn't use. Buying a whole chicken to break down into pieces seemed daunting and complicated something reserved for professional chefs.

But that's the thing about those chefs — especially Food Network's family of chefs — they make great teachers. While tuning into Alex Guarnaschelli's Sweet-and-Sour Chicken class on the Food Network Kitchen app, I watched her walk through the steps to break down a whole chicken start-to-finish, and it wasn't nearly as complicated as I had originally thought.

Alex's explanations and attention to detail and prescision make you feel like you've left your home kitchen and landed yourself in culinary school. From the first cut to remove the thighs to the final removal of the breast meat, Alex is with you every step of the way. I highly recommend hooking up your app to an Alexa voice device so you can pause, rewind and restart at any point during the process without walking away from your bird.

Take Alex's advice, "Do not be daunted by this. Just take it nice and slow."

By the time you're done, you'll have 10 pieces of perfectly cut chicken ready for making Sweet-and-Sour Chicken or something else entirely. Seriously, you just broke down a whole chicken in your own kitchen. You can basically do anything.

For even more tips and tricks to help you cook more like a professional chef, check out the all-new Food Network Kitchen app. You'll learn how to break down a chicken from Alex, and so much more.


About Alex Guarnaschelli

Out of college, Alex Guarnaschelli worked in a restaurant for Chef Larry Forgione, who encouraged her to learn to cook in France. She heeded his advice and went on to land jobs under recognized chefs like Guy Savoy in France and Daniel Boulud in New York. Later, she served as the executive chef of Butter as well as The Darby in New York. Guarnaschelli has appeared on several TV shows, including "Iron Chef America" and "Guy&aposs Grocery Games." She&aposs known for her roles as a judge on "Chopped" and co-host of "The Kitchen," in addition to host of a new series, "Supermarket Stakeout." She&aposs the author of Cook With Me: 150 Recipes for the Home CookThe Home Cook: Recipes to Know by Heart, and Old-School Comfort Food: The Way I Learned to Cook


Alex Guarnaschelli Recipes

Photo Courtesy of Hood Cottage Cheese

These are like a hybrid between a Pierogi filling and gnocchi. The cottage cheese provides lusciousness and protein. While subtle, the cottage cheese is critically important. I love the synergy between the chive flavors of the cottage cheese with the caramelized onions and the fresh chives. Such a simple flavor in various forms in this recipe is tasty. These dumplings are wonderful as a side dish with roasted chicken, steak or even a grilled vegetable platter. They can also stand on their own as a main course or as an appetizer.

Cottage cheese is a classic cheese alternative for lasagna. You can also serve these dumplings on a bed of hot tomato sauce with fresh basil as a variation from the caramelized onions.

Ingredients for the Dumplings:

-1 pound Hood Cottage Cheese with Chive

-2 ½ cups all-purpose flour plus extra for rolling

-2 large eggs, lightly beaten

-Ingredients for the Onions:

-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

-4 medium yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced

-2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar

-Freshly ground black pepper

-1 small bunch chives, cut into 1-inch “batons”, to equal ½ cup

1. Make the dumpling mix: Transfer the cottage cheese to a large bowl. Use a strainer to sift the flour in an even layer over the cottage cheese. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of salt and pour the eggs over the flour. Use a rubber spatula (or your hands) to mix the dough just so it comes together. Do not over mix or the dumplings will be chewy. Let the mix rest at room temperature for 10 minutes.

2. Cook the onions: Heat a medium size skillet over medium heat. When the pan is good and hot, add the oil, the onions in an even layer and a pinch of salt. Add 1 cup water and cook over medium low heat, stirring, until the water cooks down and they become caramelized and tender when pierced with the tip of a small knife, 15-20 minutes. Add the Balsamic and cook until the vinegar reduces, 3-5 minutes more. Taste for seasoning. Keep warm.

3. Form and cut the dumplings: Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. Divide it into 4 parts and roll each into a 7-8 –inch log about 2 inches in diameter. Cut each log into ½ to ¾ inch slices and gently roll each one to smooth the cut edges. Each one should look like a little, oval “gnocchi”. Arrange them in a single layer on a lightly floured baking sheet.

4. Cook the dumplings: In a large saucepan, bring 1 1/2 quarts of water to a simmer over medium heat. Season with 1 tablespoon salt. Stir so the salt dissolves. Drop half of the dumplings gently into the simmering water. Lower the heat and cook until they puff but are also fairly firm, 8-10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove from the water and drain on a kitchen towel. Repeat with the remaining dumplings.

5. Finish: Drain the water from the large skillet, wipe dry, heat and add half of the butter over medium heat. Add half of the dumplings back in a single layer. Cook 2-3 minutes, letting them brown slightly, tossing in the butter. Season with salt and pepper. Taste for seasoning.

6. Serve family style: Arrange half of the warm onions on the bottom of a serving platter. Spoon the dumplings over top. Cook the remaining dumplings in the rest of the butter. Spoon the other dumplings on top with the remaining onions and sprinkle with the chives.

7. Serve individually: Alternatively, divide the onions among 6-8 serving plates and spoon the dumplings on each and top with the chives.


Who is Alex Guarnaschelli?

Alex Guarnaschelli is a celebrity chef. She is best known as a judge on the Food Network cooking competition Chopped. Guarnaschelli grew up with parents who both had a passion for food. Her mother was a cookbook editor and her dad was a cooking enthusiast (with a focus on Italian and Chinese food). Her mother would try every meal from each cookbook she edited, so the family experienced a wide range of recipes from a variety of cultures.

After helping her mother for years in the kitchen, Guarnaschelli was inspired to pursue a culinary path herself. She graduated from Barnard College in 1991. At the suggestion of her mentor, chef Larry Forgione, Guarnaschelli moved to France for a work-study program at La Varenne Culinary School.

From there, she went on to the prestigious Guy Savoy. What was meant to be a few days turned into a four-year career at the Michelin three-star establishment.


Seamus Mullen recommends "anything and everything" at Etxebarri in Axpe, Spain.

"The best meal I've ever had was at a restaurant called Etxebarri in Axpe, Spain," celebrity chef and author of "Real Food Heals" Seamus Mullen said. "They're true masters of the grill, celebrating each ingredient they use by simply and beautifully preparing it over an open fire. For anyone traveling there, I'd recommend anything and everything they're grilling that day. I still dream about the grilled baby eel, scarlet prawns, 12-year old ox steaks, saffron milkcap mushrooms, snails, and turbot [flatfish native to the North Atlantic Ocean]."


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Episodes

Clambake Stakes

The chefs set out to make an unforgettable summer feast after learning each challenge will have a clambake theme. In the first round, a colorful cocktail and a gamey sausage help get the party started. The entree basket includes a strange starch and plenty of gifts from the sea. Finally, the competitors who make it to round three get to work with a juicy fruit and something cute.

Chopped Family Feud

In a Chopped first, two pairs of brothers compete to see which chef family prevails. In the first round, the competitors must come up with oodles of ideas for falooda noodles. In the entree down, the judges watch eagerly to see how the three plates of steak and cinnamon rolls will turn out. With family pride and bragging rights looming large, the last two chefs must make desserts from a Greek pudding and a Japanese candy.

Leap of Faith

A priest, a nun-in-training, a rabbi, and a pastor compete in the Chopped Kitchen! In the first round, the judges are surprised to find out that one of the cooks has never worked with fish before, but salmon is in the basket. Fruit and wine are two of the mystery basket items that must make it to the faithful cooks' entree dishes, then the two finalists draw on their heritage to make yummy fig desserts.

Betting on the Farm

The chefs are treated to some farm-fresh basket ingredients directly from the source! The first round has them rushing to make dishes with poultry and pickled chilies. In the entree round, the judges are eager to eat three lamb dishes, but worry that some fresh greens might be forgotten as the clock ticks down. Then, some odd choices by the finalists in the dessert round keep everyone wondering how the competition will end.

Naan the Wiser

A serious time management issue in the first round featuring naan and blood sausages gets one of the competitors in trouble as the last seconds tick away. A very expensive fish in the entree basket has the judges hoping that the chefs know how to treat it right. Then, the finalists come up with some creative desserts as they tackle a fruit-filled third basket.

Fabulous Baker Boys

You can put all your bread on a bet that a baker is going to take the $10,000 prize in this competition. In the first round, the competitors must bake focaccia and figure out how to make a rich fish work with rice pudding. The ingredients in the second basket strongly hint at a particular recipe: Is it a trap? The two bakers to make it to the dessert round consider themselves lucky, until they are stymied by an alarming candied ingredient.

Clock Shock

The chefs get some gorgeous crustaceans and a fancy pasta in the first basket, and the clock surprises them with its speed. Then, the judges hope that the competitors make the most of an expensive mushroom in round two. Finally, one of the last two chefs runs into trouble while trying to make an apple dessert.

Food Truck Luck

Which food truck chef will fortune shine upon in this competition of determined mobile meal vendors? There's a traffic jam at the fryer as the chefs attempt to make outstanding appetizers with two proteins. In the entree basket, the chefs find a New England sandwich and a Mexican pepper. The final two food truck chefs left in the fight receive dessert nachos in the last basket.

The Light Stuff

Four fit chefs take on the challenge to cook creative, healthy dishes that are light on calories but big on flavor. A faux noodle and a beautiful fish fillet are two of the round one mystery ingredients, and the second round revolves around a diet drink and a protein-packed snack box. When both remaining chefs plan to use the ice cream machine for their acai berry powder desserts, there's a chance someone will be left out in the cold when time runs out.

Hoofin' It!

When the clock starts ticking down from 20 minutes, the chefs must rush to make appetizers with pickled pigs' feet and sweet potato chips. And one chef doesn't realize they've made a potentially costly mistake until it's too late. Then in the entree round, the competitors must try to make pie work with venison. And the two finalists come up with similar ideas for their desserts, but which dish will the judges prefer?

Hot Stuff

Will the chefs think the "chilified" baskets in this special competition are too hot to handle? In the first round the heat is on with habanero peppers. In the entree round, the competitors must work with one of the hottest peppers known to man, in beef jerky form. And the finalists must find a way to balance spice and sugar in their desserts.

Hungry for Love

There's romance in the air in the Chopped Kitchen as eight cooking singles are paired up on blind dates! In the first round, the couples get to know each other and the ingredients, which include scallops in the shell and a strange citrus. The six competitors left for round two all decide to grind the protein in the entree basket, and the minimal use of one of the ingredients gives the judges something to discuss. Then, the creme anglaise in the dessert basket seems like a gift for the final two pairs, but neither team makes a dash for the ice cream machine.

Whiskey and Wings

Whiskey and wings appear in some form in every basket, guaranteeing a good time in each round! A fun starch must also make its way onto the chefs' appetizer plates, then hot sauce is in the mix for round two. Finally, what type of wings will the competitors get in the dessert round?

You've Been Canned

The judges are excited by the prospect of beautiful octopus appetizers in the first round as the four chefs scramble to create dishes featuring mollusk morsels. The canned product in the second round threatens to throw the competitors off their game and leaves one chef in an unusual predicament. The two remaining chefs choose the same format for their Gorgonzola dolce desserts in the final round, leaving the judges to thoroughly compare the two dishes.

Beer and Brats

The chefs take part in a Bavarian bash, starting with an appetizer basket that also includes potato chips. The entree basket includes a savory pie that's fun to say and a flight of beers that's a blast to taste. Finally, the judges watch to see what the final two chefs can do with beer and brats in their dessert basket.

Father's Day

Who could ask for a better teammate in the Chopped Kitchen than good ol' Dad? Four fathers join forces with their grown-up kids to make collaborative dishes and to make their families proud. A thematic cookie in the first basket gets a laugh, then the salmon in the second basket seems simple but creates some problems. In the dessert round, an unusual flavor of gelato presents the final father/kid pairs with a challenge.

Time Capsule: Future Foods!

Fast-forward to the year 3000! In this Chopped: Time Capsule battle, the basket ingredients are representative of foods we might be noshing on in the future, including insects in the first round! In the second basket, the competitors find an alternative protein and what could be the next big grain. The last two contenders must work with an innovative milk product and a meatless sausage in the dessert round.

High on the Hog

Nose-to-tail cannot fail! The competing chefs are elated to get a pork theme for their battle, and the gorgeous cuts of premium meat in the first basket don't disappoint. A Bloody Mary with a special surprise adds to the porky fun in the second round. Then something fizzy and something "offal-ly" difficult to incorporate in a dessert are part of the final challenge.

Pasta Possibilities

Four chefs face a three-round culinary battle where pasta is found on every plate. They start off the carb-tastic competition by making pasta appetizers that include pea tendrils and a fatty, delicious fish. A common vegetable causes some surprising problems in the entree round. Finally, a huge, sweet surprise in the final basket gets the judges excited for dessert.

Time Capsule: Future Foods!

Fast-forward to the year 3000! In this Chopped: Time Capsule battle, the basket ingredients are representative of foods we might be noshing on in the future, including insects in the first round! In the second basket, the competitors find an alternative protein and what could be the next big grain. The last two contenders must work with an innovative milk product and a meatless sausage in the dessert round.

High on the Hog

Nose-to-tail cannot fail! The competing chefs are elated to get a pork theme for their battle, and the gorgeous cuts of premium meat in the first basket don't disappoint. A Bloody Mary with a special surprise adds to the porky fun in the second round. Then something fizzy and something "offal-ly" difficult to incorporate in a dessert are part of the final challenge.

Pasta Possibilities

Four chefs face a three-round culinary battle where pasta is found on every plate. They start off the carb-tastic competition by making pasta appetizers that include pea tendrils and a fatty, delicious fish. A common vegetable causes some surprising problems in the entree round. Finally, a huge, sweet surprise in the final basket gets the judges excited for dessert.

Father's Day

Who could ask for a better teammate in the Chopped Kitchen than good ol' Dad? Four fathers join forces with their grown-up kids to make collaborative dishes and to make their families proud. A thematic cookie in the first basket gets a laugh, then the salmon in the second basket seems simple but creates some problems. In the dessert round, an unusual flavor of gelato presents the final father/kid pairs with a challenge.

Naan the Wiser

A serious time management issue in the first round featuring naan and blood sausages gets one of the competitors in trouble as the last seconds tick away. A very expensive fish in the entree basket has the judges hoping that the chefs know how to treat it right. Then, the finalists come up with some creative desserts as they tackle a fruit-filled third basket.

Fry, Fry Again

The chefs are given pots of bubbling oil, so that they can create crispy, delicious additions to their dishes. Catfish catches the chefs by surprise in the first round. In the entree basket, the competitors find a cheese and a cherry preserve. Will the mandate to make a fried dessert unnerve the two finalists?


An Exclusive Look Inside Alex Guarnaschelli's Fridge

Maybe you’ve watched her deal out some tough love on Food Network’s Chopped, cheered her on as she helps take down Bobby Flay in Beat Bobby Flay or dined on an exquisite meal at her restaurant, Butter, in New York. Either way, when you hear the name Alex Guarnaschelli, one thing comes to mind: outstanding food.

More from SheKnows

Guarnaschelli is a New York-based chef and television personality starring in shows like Iron Chef America, All Star Family Cook-off, Guy’s Grocery Games, The Best Thing I Ever Ate, Supermarket Stakeout and more. She is also the mom to her 12-year old daughter ava and also just happens to be the chair of the Museum of Food and Drink’s Culinary Council. We were lucky enough to chat with this culinary genius and not only did she share her favorite Ina Garten recipe with us, but she let us take a look inside her fridge too.

SheKnows: Tell us a little bit about your fridge and freezer.

Alex Guarnaschelli: My freezer is Jammed packed right now and I’m not going to lie about it. I always have bacon in my freezer. We might have a week where we cook bacon five days in a row and you have to be prepared for that. We also always have pork link sausages, one frozen pizza, frozen vegetables like frozen peas — which just defrosted into a salad or turned into a soup is very versatile. And ice-cream of course. There’s a whole ice-cream section in my freezer. And chocolate — I keep all my chocolate frozen.

SK: What’s the strangest ingredient we would find in your cabinets or pantry?

AG: Different types of pickled fish. This isn’t going to have a big audience. Let’s just say people are not running into the pantry to grab my pickled fish. I’ll put them on crackers or make little sandwiches with mild bread and slices of cucumber because they’re really flavorful but let me tell you I’m alone on that!

SK: What’s your favorite Girl Scout cookie flavor?

AG: I love Samoas. I love the nutty and caramel combo. It’s basically a candy bar packed in a cookie.

SK: What does a typical breakfast look like for you?

AG: We often have yogurt or smoothies but I recently burned out on the smoothie trail and have really been digging into the Hood Cottage Cheese with Blueberry — it’s so fruity and reminds me of yogurt but it’s not as sweet, has more texture and blueberries are one of my all-time flavor fruit. So this blueberry cottage cheese is a real quick way to not have to go to the stove at all which I like.

SK: What was your most memorable meal?

AG: I lived in France for many years. I was working in a very fancy restaurant in Paris and occasionally would take economy road trips to eat food in different parts of France. I wandered into a small bistro with communal tables and stools. The restaurant had no phone, took no reservations and was somehow packed to the gills every day. The husband made lunch and dinner and the wife took orders and served the food. Alain Ducasse was there for lunch that day too. I sat down and watched as the husband lifted a pot full of homemade noodles and tossed it with a vibrant green pesto. The pasta was so hot that there were little basil-filled waves of air that made their way around the tiny room. The wife placed a plate of this pasta in front of me and I took one bite. It brought tears to my eyes because the flavor was so delicious. It was one of the plates of food that made me want to become a chef. It was also, undoubtedly, one of the best things I’ve ever eaten in my life.

SK: Do you have any controversial food opinions (for example: avocados are trash, cilantro tastes like soap)?

AG: Controversial opinion number one: a cheeseburger is the best sandwich anybody could ever make or eat. Controversial opinion number two: a hotdog is the second-best sandwich and also, a hotdog is a sandwich! Third, cottage cheese is not just a 1970’s diet breakfast food anymore – it’s uniquely delicious. It offers amazing protein and texture in Italian-American classics like lasagna and baked ziti, it can make a great bread without needing any yeast, it’s wonderful baked with eggs as a twist on the usual repertoire of brunch dishes. It adds nutrition, great food chemistry and tastes savory or sweet depending on what you need it to be!

SK: What’s the one ingredient you hate to work with or encounter in someone else’s dish?

AG: I can’t handle risotto. I’ve cooked it in too many restaurants! Mussels are another rocky road for me. Can’t really stand the smell of them cooking.

SK: What is your one favorite appliance in the kitchen?

AG: I could not live without my industrial-strength blend er. I know it’s the go-to for smoothies but to me, it’s so much more. I make soups, purées. I even make no-knead bread dough in the blender! It has a place on my counter and that says something because the counter is prime real estate in my kitchen…

SK: What’s your go-to meal when you only have twenty minutes to cook?

AG: I always have cooked lentils or canned beans on hand. The lentils can be turned into a hearty soup with the addition of some cooked chopped vegetables and stock (and even crumbled leftover bacon?). The beans, a great source of protein, can become a purée to go under some roasted vegetables, a bean soup, salad or a spread to make sandwiches with cold cuts from the fridge. I also love to boil water, cook pasta and make a sauce at the same time from whatever is in the fridge. When the pasta is cooked, so is the sauce. One pan, one pot and dinner is ready!


Alex Guarnaschelli has some really astute advice for career-minded couples

Your fiancé, Chef Mike Castellon, was a contestant on Chopped in 2017, which is after you two were already dating . so I would imagine you must have had some amazing advice for him before he went on a TV cooking competition. Can you tell us what you told him?

I didn't give him any advice.

Yeah. It was too close. We don't mix like that. You know what I'm saying? When I met him, he had already applied to go on [Chopped]. And when they accepted him, I said, "I'm not going to say a word," and he said, "I don't want you to." We wanted to keep our relationship separate. And he went on, and he competed and he won. I mean it. I know it sounds, like, "Oh, come on, Alex. For real?" But, if anything, I think it would've hurt our relationship. We just really wanted to protect our relationship. That was something that we truly decided on our own, early on. And it was a good move.

It's nice that he won because it was his win. And everybody was like, "Oh, did you judge?" and this and that. Of course not. If any of us knows a contestant, we can't judge them, no matter who. So some of my cooks from the restaurant went on the show. I've never been a judge on those episodes. You can't judge if you know the person.

Yeah. That seems like it wouldn't be kosher.

I would've bullied everybody into letting him win. So forget it!


Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli Shares Her Kitchen Secrets

The celebrity chef dishes on growing up a foodie, her new book, ‘The Home Cook,’ and how cooking on TV is nothing like cooking in real life.

Jason Horn

Getty

You grew up in New York City, your mom is a famous cookbook editor, and your dad is a talented home cook, right? “My parents definitely played into my career choice! My mother and father were always cooking. They generally didn’t cook together: Dad would make traditional Italian-American and Chinese food as a hobby, and my mother was all about the James Beard, Julia Child, Craig Claiborne stuff. Mom was always the type to take two buses and a subway to get the special bottle of balsamic vinegar. Everything was about quality ingredients.”

How did you first learn to cook? “ Learning anything, you start as a spectator, and I don’t think we talk about that enough. I’d help Mom peel potatoes, knead bread, stuff like that. But my mom is a perfectionist, so I didn’t ever make anything from A to Z. But then when I graduated from Barnard College, I got a job at Larry Forgione’s restaurant, An American Place, and it’s the guys there who really taught me the fundamentals. How to cook a steak and not cut your hand off—those kind of fundamentals. That plus working for six years at Restaurant Guy Savoy in France.”

You’re from an Italian family and your books include a lot of Italian recipes is it your favorite type of food to eat and cook? “ When it comes to eating, I really love Italian-American and classic Americana, big-time. Lasagna, a Reuben that’s my jam. I’m also a closet vegetarian part-time. When I was growing up, my father did a ton of stuff with veggies that really influenced me. For cooking, I’m all about the Frenchies. French food may not be chic right now, but it’s timeless and it always comes back into style. Team Frenchie!”

Your career has been mostly at high-end restaurants, but both your new cookbook, The Home Cook, and your first cookbook, Old-School Comfort Food, feature recipes targeted firmly at home cooks. What are the biggest differences between cooking at home andprofessionally? “You know, I have to load the dishwasher at home! When you’re thinking about a recipe that has 20 steps and uses a lot of equipment, you don’t think about it in a restaurant. I have a child at home, and when you have a child at home, you don’t want making a grilled cheese sandwich to create a sink full of dishes. The goal is to fuse the elegance of restaurant and the simplicity of home cooking.”

Your new book is subtitled Recipes to Know by Heart. Which three recipes do you think every home cook should memorize? “You should know how to cook rice, how to make a biscuit and how to make a basic salad dressing. If you can do that, you can conquer the world. You can go in a million directions from there.”

What does your home kitchen look like? “It’s a galley kitchen with old equipment and I love it! I do cook at home quite a bit, mostly because of my 10-year-old. She makes me want to bust out a sauté pan.”

Any tips on cooking for kids? What about teaching kids to cook? “My mother never went at me like ‘you have to learn to cook.’ There was no compelling argument made, and that left room for my own desire. As far as cooking for kids, I don’t really believe in cooking for kids. You make dinner and you say, ‘This is what’s for dinner. You don’t like it? I guess you’re not hungry.’ I’m kidding, but I mean not really. I take requests, though I’m a flexible food DJ. I think it should be a dialogue with your kid. But I do believe in picky eaters. And if your kid is a picky eater, the best recipe is patience. Eventually, they’ll eat an oyster.”

Are there any secret ingredients pro chefs love to use that home cooks don’t? “ Miso paste is a good one. It adds such great umami and richness. Chefs like to use fish sauce and soy sauce as forms of adding a built-in salt flavor in unexpected places. Mustard is big too—it can add thickness and acidity soy can add salt miso can add umami and body. I think of ingredients like paints on a palette while home cooks might think of them as individual ingredients.”

You’ve appeared on Iron Chef America, Chopped, Food Network Challenge, and a bunch of other cooking shows. Is cooking on TV anything like cooking in a real kitchen? “No. The whole answer to that is no. It’s a different kind of thing it’s a different skill. It’s like if you had a sushi chef and a pasta chef they both fall under cooking, but it’s a different sensibility. I don’t consider the skills to cross over in that particular way.”

What are some of your favorite places to eat and drink in New York? “I like Via Carota. I like Joe’s Pizza. I like Il Cortile. I like Hearth a lot. I like the old-school places. I’m big into highbrow/lowbrow: I like to have an egg sandwich at Eisenberg’s Sandwich Shop, and I love La Grenouille. For bars, I tend to get a little fancy-pants. I go to the King Cole Bar at the St. Regis Hotel.”

You travel quite a bit as well. What are some of your other favorite food and drink cities? “ I love Los Angeles. I always think no matter how highly people think of it, it’s underrated. I love Charleston, South Carolina. And Minneapolis. I like Minneapolis a lot. Those are three of my favorites.”

If you had to eat the same dish for every meal for the rest of your life, what would you pick? “ I would have slices of baguette with butter on one side, mayonnaise on the other and brie in the middle. Every day, every meal.”

Besides the new cookbook, what’s next for you? “ I’m working on a cool fast-casual restaurant concept, but I’m not in any hurry—all puns and irony intended. Some TV. That’s really it. I’m gonna make a little time to go fishing. I’m terrible at it that’s why I want to go!”

Alex Guarnaschelli’s new bookThe Home Cook will be released tomorrow. In addition to her regular TV appearances, she is also executive chef at Butter in Midtown Manhattan.