Once upon a time, I worked as an (unqualified) bartender at a trendy New York City restaurant called Butter, where Alex Guarnaschelli served as executive chef. You may recognize Guarnaschelli from the myriad TV projects on which she's since been featured, including Chopped, Iron Chef America, All Star Family Cook-off, The Best Thing I Ever Ate, Alex's Day Off and The Cooking Loft. She's also, since I saw her last, authored two cookbooks. Her latest, The Home Cook: Recipes To Know by Heart, was released just this fall.
Back in our shared restaurants days, I wouldn't have dreamed of bugging Chef Alex with questions—she was far too important! While this is even more true today, I recently had the privilege of sneaking a peek into her fridge and getting nosy about its contents. She indulged me on both counts which, it turns out, is going to be good for my increasingly "extra" sparkling-water game. Keep reading to find out why, get the skinny on how she makes her eggs taste "eggier," and more.
What's in an Iron Chef's refrigerator? Scroll down to sneak a peek.
Ooh, what's in the très French packaging I spy on your top shelf?
It’s Isigny Sainte-Mère butter from Normandy. It’s unsalted, so it’s great for cooking, but the rich creaminess also makes it lovely as a spread on its own. The French definitely know their dairy!
I can't seem to guess what's in the container next to the fruit. Help!
That is a wonderfully sweet and sour green apple purée. I usually put it on top of yogurt with toasted almonds. I also mix it into seltzer for a fun drink and have used it in salad dressing to add tang and body.
Are those berries for straight-up snacking or do you bake and cook with them?
We eat fresh berries in every way in my house: straight-up, mixed into yogurt, or incorporated in a dessert. Even a simple bowl of vanilla ice cream feels elevated when you sprinkle a few colorful berries on top—it’s the easiest no-fuss dessert if you’re serving a crowd (or yourself).
From your arsenal, I'm guessing you love hot sauce?
I use hot sauce for many different things. I think they're not just about making things spicy, but also about adding depth of flavor. I put a few drops into my scrambled egg mix to make the egg taste eggier, for example. I also use hot sauce in BBQ sauce, in salad dressings and marinades, and sometimes I just splash it on some roasted chicken.
What's the deal with those Beth's Farm jams?
I discovered Beth’s Farm Kitchen is in the Hudson Valley—they make the best jams. It’s all local, and they’re amazing spread on an easy slice of toast in the morning.
That reddish bottle on the second shelf is intimidating. What is it?
That’s an experiment. A beet juice “cure” drink that’s both tasty and helpful for digestion. Sometimes being a chef leads to the need for stomach peace...I bought this drink to give something new a try! Stay tuned...
Will you cook with those yogurts or just eat them?
I sometimes cook with yogurt and find it’s a great replacement for sour cream if you’re looking for a healthy alternative. I’m also a big fan of it as a healthy, satisfying snack. Especially with those berries!
How do you plan to prepare those big, beautiful squash?
I can’t get enough of butternut squash this time of year. My favorite way to prepare it is super easy—just dice it up, douse it with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast in the oven at 400°F for about 40 minutes.
What's in some of those mysterious jars on your bottom shelf?
I’m always picking up local condiments from farmers' markets when I can. These are pickles from Balsam Farms in Amagansett (so good!), a maple syrup from Upstate New York, and horseradish I picked up at the Union Square Market in Manhattan.
Chefs—they're just like us! Find out what your kitchen has in common with that of Top Chef judge Gail Simmons and learn how another NYC chef is redefining fresh by going straight to an unexpected source.
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