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 and The Darby can boast indeed, even adding the title of Iron Chef to her name—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.
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 years in France, Guarnaschelli returned stateside. Though she left the country, she maintained her connection with the cuisine, joining 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 expand her repertoire and become the executive chef at Butter Restaurant, where she would create her own American and green market-inspired menu. In 2010, Guarnaschelli was named the executive chef at The Darby, where she curates a menu that tributes the classics with emphasis on her dedication to fresh, local product. Guarnaschelli also a Dame D'Escoffier and part of the 15-member Chef's Advisory Council at New York City's Institute of Culinary Education.
Guarnaschelli has many national television appearances including Food Network Challenge as both a contestant and judge, The Today Show and The Rachael Ray Show. She has been featured in The New York Times, New York Magazine, Elle, New York and Time Out New York.
In Fall 2012, Guarnaschelli competed in season 5 of The Next Iron Chef:Redemption and won in the final Kitchen Stadium Showdown earning her the title of Iron Chef. Guarnaschelli is now on Iron Chef America as a member of the regular cast.
Alex Guarnaschelli Cookbook: Old-School Comfort Food: The Way I Learned to Cook