Celeb Chef Alex Guarnaschelli is often recognized from her appearances on Chopped and Iron Chef America. She’s also the executive chef at Butter Restaurant in New York City. When Guarnaschelli isn’t in the kitchen or living it up in the Big Apple, she’s traveling. Read on for our one-on-one with the culinary rockstar.
ShermansTravel: Where is your favorite place to travel, and why?
Alex Guarnaschelli: I lived in Paris for a number of years when learning to cook; it’s near and dear to my heart. From a tiny chocolate shop on a side street, to the biggest bustling Brasserie, Paris has my heart. As a side note, I also love Charleston, South Carolina. So many great chefs and ingredients in that community!
ST: Where do you eat while you were there? What is your all-time favorite dish there?
AG: In Paris, I love La Regalade, Violon D’Ingres, L’Arpege, and Guy Savoy. At Guy Savoy, it’s the truffled Parmesan artichoke soup that has my heart for life.
ST: How has traveling impacted the menu at Butter?
AG: Travel does so many things; it allows chefs to clear their heads and see new ingredients. I walk the markets when I travel and eat in the local mom and pop joints. Sometimes I will make a new dish inspired by a trip months after it happens!
ST: What is your favorite travel souvenir? Where did you get it?
AG: I have a small paper map of the Paris metro system. I imagine going to different places in Paris, nibbling on a wedge of cheese and baguette.
ST: Where will your next vacation take you?
AG: I hope to visit Portland, Oregon the next time I take a vacation. I really love the food community there and the natural resources: mushrooms, huckleberries… the list goes on. I like go-to ingredients.
ST: What do you miss most about New York when you’re traveling?
AG: I miss the smell of the streets. I miss a great slice of pizza. I miss a great doughnut. It’s the foods that I find uniquely great in my home city that I miss when I travel.
ST: Where’s one place you haven’t been but have been dying to visit?
AG: I want to venture to the Galapagos. I can only imagine the beauty and the life of that area of the world.
ST: How has your wine collection grown from traveling? What are your favorites and why?
AG: I always bring a bottle or two back in my suitcases. It’s a way of having something to remember when I get home. I sip the wine, and it transports me and reminds me of great moments. With that said, travel also makes me appreciate the familiar tastes of home. I always keep a few bottles Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi wines on hand; they’re perfect for sharing with friends and family and bring back fond memories.
ST: Where did you eat your most decadent meal? What did you eat and what made it over the top?
AG: I had a dinner at Gabriel Kreuther in New York City that was a huge highlight for me. From the appetizers through desserts, it was decadent without being heavy. There were flavors ranging from sauerkraut to concord grapes and Forelle pears that I still think about. The Concord grape dessert was a highlight. It’s funny because the restaurant is only a few blocks walk from my restaurant, so I didn’t have to travel far to get sheer decadence.