The successful Food Network chefs turn out series after series, year after year. Think Bobby Flay, Emeril Lagasse, and Alton Brown. They explore one show format and then move on to the next, hopefully adding to and perfecting their onscreen performance. The Food Network mines the re-runs.
Alexandra Guarnaschelli is joining their ranks with her second FN show. The first show was The Cooking Loft. She came to FN as one of the few professional chefs on the network who continues to lead her/his own kitchen — at New York’s Butter.
Now she has a new show, Alex’s Day Off, premiering Sunday, October 18th at 9:30 am ET/PT. She is Ina Garten (the Barfoot Contessa) gone to the big city. Bobby Flay is executive producer. The show is about the kind of cooking she does on her day off. Like Ina, Alex visits purveyors. She cooks themed meals for family and friends in her own kitchen (or a studio version of it). She isn’t svelte like Giada De Laurentiis or perky like Rachael Ray, and that’s part of her strength. Like Ina, when she is on camera, she fills it with enthusiasm and pleasure.
As for trademark line, like Emeril’s “Bam!” Alex has her “ridiculous!” She said it more times than Super Chef could count during sneak peak of the first episode. The breakfast foods Alex makes in the episode include hash browns with Camembert, fried eggs with bacon fat and toast “soldiers,” spice-rubbed bacon, and donuts with cinnamon sugar and hot blueberry jam. There is loads of fat and not many vegetables or fruit (except for Alex’s version of a screwdriver and some jam). Then again, her restaurant is called Butter.
Super Chef: How did this new show come about?
Alex: I got a phone call from Bobby Flay about a year ago, he just saw The Cooking Loft. He is the executive producer. Rock Shrimp is the production company.
Super Chef: What makes your program stand out? How is it different from the Cooking Loft?
Alex: It is not the same show at all. This is a show about the food I like to cook. I am French trained but I cook very American food. It is about how fun it is to be American, to live in this big bad country of ours, to use the ingredients we have. It is about me in my neighborhood, connected to people who grow and sell what we eat.
Super Chef: Did you consult other FN chefs about your program? Which FN chefs are your biggest influences?
Alex: Bobby Flay is definitely my biggest influence. I identify with him. We are both native New Yorkers – there is a cultural connection, it draws me to him. Also, Ina Garten, she is amazing. I love Giada, too.
Super Chef: Except for a handful of chefs, you, Bobby, and a few others, most of the hosts on FN are entertainers not chefs. What do you think of that direction?
Alex: I think Daisy Martinez, Anne Burrell and I are the new generation of chefs on FN. But in order to have a cooking channel that speaks to everyone, some people are learning how to cut an onion; others are sautéing four different kinds. I pick up tips from Rachael Ray or Michael Chiarello. It is the perspective that makes it interesting and not so much the training.
Super Chef: What else are you up to? Cookbook? Products?
Alex: I am working on a cookbook; hopefully it will be out late next year. It’s about being a French trained chef, but using ingredients that are new American. It fuses the French techniques I have learned with my approach. It is not about food in a hurry. It is a representation of how I love to celebrate good food.