It’s both a sad and real reflection of a busy chef’s life that they rarely have the time to cook for themselves.
In her new cookbook, “Cook With Me,” Food Network star Alex Guarnaschelli recalls that for the first 16 years of her professional culinary career she rarely made anything for herself to eat at home in New York. The day she moved out of her West Village apartment in 2006, the instructions for her stove’s use were still in the oven. She didn’t even have a pot to boil water for a cup of tea.
“Some chef don’t cook for joy or to feed themselves,” she writes. “They cook for sport. They cook for everyone who comes to the restaurant.”
Lucky for those restaurant customers and for the sport she was honing. Not so hot for Guarnaschelli, whose food-filled childhood and professional life have been richly fed even if she didn’t have the time to nourish herself with her own home cooking.
Recipe: My Mother’s Chicken
That changed when Guarnaschelli became a mother to daughter Ava, now 13. The chef had to learn to be a home cook and adapt to the changing needs and wants of a growing child. To be sure, she got to know her home stove.
Today, Guarnaschelli is busier than ever as chef of Butter restaurant in New York and omnipresent on multiple Food Network series, including her own “Supermarket Stakeout.” She feeds her 868,000 Instagram followers with recipes and cooking updates. And a new cookbook.
‘Cook With Me’
By Alex Guarnaschelli
336 pages, $35
“Cook With Me” finds the chef in introspection mode. The pages are full of wise reflections on career, motherhood and daughterhood. And the recipes reflect how her family has shaped her as a chef. Not just Ava but her parents: her late father’s boundless joy in the family kitchen and her legendary cookbook editor mother, whose discipline and knowledge continues to color Guarnaschelli’s world. Those familial connections have tempered her work as a chef.
Recipe: Classic Shrimp Scampi
“I wanted this book to represent home cooking but not completely removed from the experiences I’ve had in professional kitchens,” she said. “That’s the evolution: the meeting of the two sides of myself — my work and the food I cook for home pleasure.”
The book’s 150 recipes — grouped in helpful categories such as one-pan dinners, slow-cooker meals, red-sauce recipes and vegetarian-focused “new meats” — reflect a smart, uncomplicated, comfort-forward attitude in meal planning. Though written before COVID-19 ruled our lives, the recipes add excitement back to the kitchen at a time of pandemic frustration and malaise.
“I know a lot of people are burned out. At the beginning, people were making their own sourdough starters and dusted off their slow cookers. It was fun, and there was a real novelty to it,” Guarnaschelli said. “Now I think people are tired. They’re wondering how they can get there quickly and with some uniqueness. ‘Can I add some color and dimension to the day through cooking?’ It’s more possible than ever because of the pandemic.”
Recipe: Stuffed Shells
One way, she said, is to rediscover the wealth of the spice rack. “I think people are owning up to the fact that they have a drawer of flavors, and they don’t know how to use them and when to put them.”
It’s a time of discovery, she said. That said, it’s also a time for home cooks to be patient and kind to themselves and take time to smell the gravy.
“Just let food cook. When you leave things alone, it’s amazing how time and patience works,” she said. “Those inert moments in cooking are underrated and should be enjoyed. During a pandemic, more so than ever.”
Source: Thanks https://www.houstonchronicle.com/food/article/Alex-Guarnaschelli-invites-home-chefs-to-Cook-15750647.php