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Q & A: Alexandra Guarnaschelli



June 24, 2009


Alexandra Guarnaschelli On Thursday night the Beard House will host Cocktails and Canapés, a casual party with hors d'oeuvre prepared by a team of fantastic New York chefs (not to mention some creative cocktails shaken up by master mixologist Junior Merino). Among them will be Butter's Alexandra Guarnaschelli, who cooked at our Awards Gala last year. Here's what she had to say about what she would eat for her last meal, lessons learned in the kitchen, and the importance of farmers. James Beard Foundation: What would you eat for your last meal on earth? Alexandra Guarnaschelli: A grilled cheese and tomato sandwich on whole wheat bread with bacon (cooked in duck fat) and fried potato skins. For dessert, a whole, fresh black truffle thinly sliced and drizzled with sherry vinegar, olive oil, and sea salt. JBF: What’s your favorite regional ingredient? AG: Ramps, ramps, ramps! JBF: What life lessons have you learned in the kitchen? AG: 1. Never shuck oysters when you are nervous; 2. Count to ten before you speak your mind; 3. Never assume you know everything; 4. Pick a culinary identity that is true to who you are and what you love, and stick to it; 5. No one works harder than farmers! JBF: Why do you support local, artisanal producers? AG: We talk a lot about how wonderful local ingredients are and how fresh and “true” the food is when we, as chefs, use them. What is equally important to me are the people who take the time to grow and create those ingredients. There is a sense of community, even in a bustling (and overwhelming) place like New York City, that transcends what goes on the plates in restaurants. The farmers/artisans are as important to me as the resources they provide with their diligence and hard work.