Q&A: Food Network’s Alex Guarnaschelli Talks Celebrities and Honeybees, Part 2


Yesterday, we spoke with Food Network’s Alex Guarnaschelli about how to tackle cooking pumpkin and other seasonal specialties. Today, we’re focusing on how she deals with celebrities in her restaurants, her favorite restaurants in the city, and her recent venture with Haagen-Dazs.

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You have a lot of celebrities coming into your restaurant. The Jonas Brothers, for example, were recently at the Darby. How do you deal with high-profile customers?
You know my answer may sound like a cliché, but it’s very important that everybody is made to feel the same and gets the same treatment. I think when you deal with high-profile customers, people assume they may not be treated the same way as the Jonas Brothers. But it’s about managing the expectations of the guests when they walk through the door, especially if the guests know that high profile people come. I would say that’s harder to contend with than actually dealing with the high-profile people.

Favorite restaurant of all time?
I really like Hearth a lot. I like ABC Kitchen. I like L’Artusi. Those are some of my favorites. And my all-time favorite is La Grenouille. I just think it’s an awesome, cool French restaurant. High-end French has become increasing rare. I appreciate all that.

You recently published an e-book with Haagen-Dazs. Tell me about that.
I’ve actually been working with Haagen-Dazs to create this e-book called Ode to Summer, and it’s going to be available for free download. It’s essentially composed of fan entries from across the country — tweets and photos. And it’s 50 of our favorites that celebrates summer moments and obviously includes things like Haagen-Dazs ice cream. The best thing about this book is that it is for charity and one that is essentially linked to food. Haagen-Dazs is donating $5 for every download for honey bee research at the University of California Davis. It’s going to help honey bee colonies, and I just think that’s really cool. I love bees. I love honey. But bees are also responsible for pollinating a third of the world’s natural food supply. I did not know that before I did this project. Not only do we get our favorite summer moments, we get to help save a natural resource.

Do you think reality television is a good place to make a name for yourself within the cooking world?
I did not get my start on television. I cooked for almost 14 years before I was on television. If you want to cook on TV, my suggestion is to start from learning and honing your own skills. Go to a culinary school or get restaurant experience, because that’s where you should start.

Any more television appearances planned?
I’m part of the cast for the next Iron Chef, which is going to premiere on November 4 on the Food Network. I’m looking forward to that . . . or actually, looking forward to and dreading.

What do you look for in a recipe in order for it to make it to your show?
I base it on seasonal ingredients and whatever mood is being created. If I’m creating a comfort food meal or if I’m cooking a light meal for summer, each one is going to create an entirely different feeling.