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You’ve seen them judge the competition, battle for the title of All-Stars champion and compete in a friendly game with colleagues on After Hours, but there’s a lot you don’t know about the judges of Chopped. Here’s your chance to get to know the nine people behind the Chopping Block.
Alex Guarnaschelli is a regular judge on Chopped and most recently won the title of Iron Chef on The Next Iron Chef: Redemption. She is also the executive chef of Butter restaurant and The Darby in New York City. Alex began her culinary career in France, studied at La Varenne Cooking School in Burgundy and worked under the tutelage of many French restaurateurs before moving to New York. Her first cookbook, Old School Comfort: The Way I Learned to Cook, was released earlier this year. But did you know Alex has a special appreciation for the sea that goes beyond just eating seafood? In fact, if she hadn’t become a chef, she would have become a marine biologist. Find out more about Alex in her Q&A below.
What’s your Achilles’ heel ingredient, one that you hate to work with or encounter in someone else’s dish?
Alex Guarnaschelli: Hot dogs are tough! Simple, but a real killer. And chicken feet.
What dish or ingredient will we never catch you eating?
AG: Pattypan squash and/or haggis.
What was your most memorable meal? What, where, who? Details, please.
AG: My mother cooked me a birthday dinner at home when I was 11 or 12. Scallops in their shells and my favorite chocolate caramel cake. All the recipes are in my new cookbook. Best meal I can ever remember eating.
What’s your guilty pleasure food?
AG: I have many! But I really love an In-N-Out Burger the most.
Is there one dish that you always order out and never make at home?
AG: I would say fried squid and/or clam. Love it. Tastes like deep fried ocean!
What kitchen tool can’t you live without?
AG: My $5 paring knife.
If you weren’t in food, what career would you like to have tried?
AG: I would have embarked on the search for those giant squid as a marine biologist.
What’s your favorite “food city” to visit?
AG: Charleston, South Carolina!
What’s your favorite late-night snack?
AG: Polite answer: uh … ice water!! Real answer: cold spaghetti and meatballs.
What’s one must-have at your last supper?
AG: Chocolate and pistachio soufflés.
Who’s your favorite person to cook with?
AG: My daughter.
Rapid fire: Think fast!
Ketchup or mustard? Mustard
Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate
Coffee or tea? Coffee
Burger or hot dog? Burger and hot dog. Oh, ok … burger
Cream cheese or butter? Butter
Soda or water? Water
Sprinkles or jimmies? Jimmies. My mom’s a New England gal.