'Alex vs. America' Is Her Biggest Gig Yet
Catch Alex Guarnaschelli at the New York City Wine and Food Festival or on the upcoming season of her show
Alex Guarnaschelli is busy.
The chef is currently filming season three of Food Network’s Alex vs. America, raising her daughter (Ava Clark, a chef in her own right), and will co-host two events at the New York City Wine and Food Festival: Peroni's Taste of Italy (where she will share hosting duties with Scott Conant and special guest Whoopi Goldberg) and Tacos and Tequila After Dark (with the Cast of the Kitchen, and special guests Elvis Duran and the Z100 Morning Show).
Guarnaschelli chatted with Broken Palate about Alex vs. America over the phone this past Sunday morning. Guarnaschelli said that, although she is a Food Network veteran, Alex vs. America is exceptionally challenging because of its premise.
In each episode, Guarnaschelli is pitted against three chefs from around the country who are challenged to face off against the chef and each other in a competition. Each week’s challenge has a particular theme.
“Sometimes it’s an ingredient, sometimes it’s geography,” says Guarnaschelli, who says that there are plenty of times when she’s been stumped. “Let me tell you: What I try to do is measure up or compensate with years of cooking experience. It’s interesting when there’s a cuisine that I’m not an expert in.” That’s when some reverse engineering and a bit of creativity come in handy. “I think to myself, I know what this is. How do I create it?”
Guarnaschelli is the first to admit that her attempts aren’t always successful.
“Did you ever have one of those moments where you go to a park with a sketch pad and it just doesn’t turn out well? Some days I just say, ‘Let’s put the pencils away and go home,’ but some days it works out and it’s amazing. The viewers are along for the ride,” she says.
Guarnaschelli says that she likes that Alex vs. America also lets the viewers in on many unscripted and behind-the-scenes moments. “There’s so much to these competition shows. Most of what wound up on the cutting room floor five or ten years ago are on the show. There are moments that are a little messy. I think it has realness.”
The secret sauce to the show, though, is Guarnaschelli, herself. The chef is known for her humor and her own realness. One look at her Instagram account — which is filled with everything from cooking demos to moments with her daughter to musings about how much she really wants to dig into that doughnut — is enough to make your day.
Guarnaschelli sums up her career for us.
“How do I describe my profession? What would my business card read? Maybe: Accidental television chef who likes tomatoes, sazaracs, and long walks on the beach.”
A busy business card for a busy woman.