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Alex Guarnaschelli and Ava Clark Cook It Up
The celebrity chef and her daughter have collaborated on a cookbook
Celebrity chef and tenured toque, Alex Guarnaschelli, has just released a new cookbook with a very special co-author: daughter Ava Clark.
The book, Cook it Up: Bold Moves for Family Foods: A Cookbook, is available now, and offers 75 family-friendly recipes, created and tested by both Alex and Ava.
Alex Guarnaschelli trained at La Varenne Culinary School in Burgundy, France, while Ava Clark honed her skills watching her mom and studying techniques on TikTok. At 16, the young chef-in-training has amassed quite an Instagram following for her culinary prowess, so expect a collection of sophisticated recipes that will elevate family meals.
Broken Palate caught up with Alex Guarnaschelli to talk about the new book, cooking with Ava, and tips on how to get the family together for a meal.
Broken Palate: This is your first book together as mother and daughter. Alex, your mother was a cookbook editor. How does it feel to come full circle with your own daughter?
Alex Guarnaschelli: What's great is that Ava did this organically. She definitely put a lot of my mother's spirit in the pages of this book and that was very heartwarming to see. We bring to the table family traditions she's growing up with and are also creating our own at the same time. I think my mother would be really proud of her.
BP: When did Ava start getting into cooking? She’s quite the chef (as I’ve witnessed firsthand and through social media).
AG: One day she cooks up a storm. Another day, all she wants to do is eat a cheeseburger from the diner. Like everything when you're 16, passions ebb and flow. Ava does love to cook and clearly finds it relaxing.
BP: Some parents want their child to follow in their footsteps -- some do not -- what's your view?
AG: My parents let me do whatever I want. I think there was a whole year (when I was a kid) that I had nothing but grilled cheese sandwiches. My mother actually worried that I'd never eat a good meal. Or cook one for that matter. So ironic how things turned out. I want Ava to enjoy a lot of different things, from art to food to writing to fashion, and see where she lands with her professional desires on her own.
BP: Some families don't even eat dinner with their teens, let alone cook with them -- any tips on how to share kitchen experiences with the entire family?
AG: You don't have to make a big elaborate meal from scratch every night to eat together. Ordering takeout and just sitting down to go through your day together is a lot. Take whatever family moment you can get and in whatever form. Don't set the bar and expectations so high that you never reach them or never even try. Some cold pizza in the door of the fridge or standing by the kitchen sink chatting can be enough. If you do some home cooking along the way, even better…
BP: What do you both enjoy cooking together the most? What meal is your favorite?
AG: I don't think we really enjoy cooking much together, funny as that sounds. Ava likes it when I make vegetable side dishes and she cooks up fish or meat with a really great sauce. Ava loves to make sauce. Beurre blanc for fish. Chimichurri for steak. Salsa Verde for a taco. She likes to really be at the heart of whatever she's making and develop great flavor.