This weekend the Food Network debuts its newest show, The Cooking Loft. Like Secrets of a Restaurant Chef, the host of the show, Alex Guarnaschelli is the head chef of a popular New York City eatery, Butter. The Cooking Loft is an interactive show in which Alex teaches a group of students how to make several dishes with a specific ingredient. After watching an episode of the show, I was excited to speak with Alex on the phone. To find what she had to say,
Alex was exposed to food from an early age because her mom was a cookbook editor. She's worked at acclaimed restaurants in New York and Los Angeles, but it was her appearance on Iron Chef America that started her relationship with the Food Network. She refers to the network as "one big happy family" and is nervously awaiting the debut of her show.
PartySugar: With your show what are you hoping to teach the American people?
Alex Gauranaschelli: I think the most important thing people should learn from my show is how fun and easy cooking can be. All you have to do is something simple, make things special, more unique, more flavorful.
PS: What's your criteria when considering dishes to feature on your show?
AG: The show is topic driven. We have a very unique format. We first choose the ingredient — tomatoes, chicken, etc. — and than I pick my favorite recipes. I like to take a different approach, to teach people how to reinvent ingredients, reinvent the basics.
PS: Are you worried about how the New York restaurant industry will respond to your show?
AG: I find the New York restaurant industry to be one big family. I'm hoping it will be well-received, but honestly I'm more worried about how my tomato recipes will look.
PS: What is your guilty pleasure food?
AG: What? Like stuff I keep hidden from other people? My homemade guilty pleasure is my mom's chocolate cake with caramel, we feature the recipe on the show. Of processed foods, it's a tie between Cool Ranch Doritos and Oreos. They are actually really good together. I like to make a little sandwich. It's quite appetizing, you get all salted up with the chips and cool it off with the sweet oreos.
PS: What did you have for lunch today?
AG: I'm glad you asked me! I had a really chefy lunch. I had a salad with lolla rosso [a type of lettuce] and shallots. I made an omelette with local eggs and goat cheese and I cooked it really slowly until the goat cheese melted, then I rolled it up and put it on top of the lettuce. It was so good, it was like a religious experience.
PS: Beer or wine?
PS: Cookie or cake?
PS: Soup or salad?
PS: Iron Chef or Top Chef?
AG: That's cruel! Iron Chef.
PS: Los Angeles or New York?
AG: New York
PS: Butter or olive oil?
PS: Potatoes or pasta?
PS: Truffles or foie gras?
PS:Crème brulee or panna cotta?
AG: Neither, creme caramel.