Celebrity chef Alex Guarnaschelli visited campus last week to give a cooking demonstration and debut her first cookbook, Old-School Comfort Food: The Way I Learned to Cook.
Guarnaschelli is highly regarded both in and out of the cooking world—and for good reason. For one, she is the executive chef at two top restaurants in New York City—The Darby and Butter. For another, she is a Food Network star, serving as a judge on Chopped and one of only two female chefs on Iron Chef America.
Guarnaschelli’s cookbook pays homage to her mother, she said, a respected cookbook editor who helped her daughter develop a passion for food at a young age. As an avid proponent of making familiar foods into something special, Guarnaschelli combines common ingredients with expert techniques in her book to help every at-home chef create mouth-watering meals.
A rare site, the Xhibition Kitchen was filled to the brim with close to 160 hungry students, all listening attentively for cooking tips and witty one-liners from the celebrity chef.
“I didn’t decide to become a chef until after graduating from college,” Guarnaschelli explained. “I suggest a prolonged, existential youth crisis.”
To kick off the demonstration, Guarnaschelli took questions from the crowd while preparing tomato sauce and meatballs, a dish that attendees received as they arrived.
Throughout the hour-long event, she divulged a breadth of insider information, which included a coveted briefing of her pantry and refrigerator must-haves.
“I use a splash of Worcestershire sauce in everything, I like pickles for the juice, I use capers sparingly but always fried, and I use Dijon mustard so much that I almost put it in a cake the other day,” she said.
Guarnaschelli also discussed her favorite Boston restaurants. “A lot of liking a restaurant has to do with liking the person behind it,” Guarnaschelli said. “I had the roast chicken at Craigie on Main and it was transporting, I also ate at Clio last night and practically crawled out of there.”
At the end of the demonstration, 10 lucky attendees won a copy of Old-School Comfort Food. Many others had their cookbook signed and took photos with the celebrity chef.