Although Butter is no doubt better known for its swanky downstairs lounge, a nocturnal playground for the glitterati & New York’s trendiest, but if you venture above ground, you’ll happen upon a serene, forested landscape with an accomplished chef, modestly dazzling diners with her New American menu. Since 2005, Alex Guarnaschelli has put a unique spin on the driven, green market cuisine at this East Village spot. As the daughter of successful cookbook author, Maria Guarnaschelli, food seems to run in the family. With a culinary education from La Varenne in France, Alex has traipsed through many a prominent kitchen: the likes of three star Michelin-rated Guy Savoy, Daniel and LA’s Patina. Now at home in NYC and Butter’s kitchen, she churns out such signatures as cavatappi pasta with spicy colorado lamb sausage & yellow tomatoes and autumn mushroom papillote with goat cheese & fresh thyme.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a marine biologist or work in a museum restoring Renaissance paintings.
How did you get into food?
My father was cooking Chinese food as a hobby – hanging ducks in the dining room for 3 days, making tea eggs. My mother was baking breads, making trifles, sausages, you name it…It was inevitable that the profession find me….
What was your first job in food?
My first job in food was slicing strawberries and making Crème Anglaise at Larry Forgione’s An American Place.
How did you end up in the kitchen at Butter?
The job at Butter found me, actually. I was a private chef and got hired by the General Manager in a pinch!
What’s your favorite dish on the menu right now?
All in all, the Cavatappi Pasta with the Lamb Sausage is my favorite dish.
What’s your least favorite dish on the menu and yes, you must pick one…
Right now, it’s the Tuna with Pickled Pear Vinaigrette.
What’s your junk food of choice?
Oreo Cookies, Cool Ranch Doritos, & Funions. I like crunch…
Other than your own, what’s your favorite restaurant in NYC?
Forty Carrots in the basement of Bloomingdale’s.
What culinary trend do you most embrace?
Sustainable food choices.
What trend do you most despise?
Uninformed use of the otherwise interesting molecular gastronomy.
You’re not only devising Butter’s edible selection, but also a rather impressive and eclectic wine list. How did you learn so much about wine and what was your inspiration behind it?
I wanted a list that jived with the food and showcased the quality of fine wines, both domestic and European wines. I am still learning all about wine but the only way I have found I can learn is by reading and tasting, tasting, tasting…
Any new projects on the horizon for you? Do spill the beans…
No new restaurant ventures right now – I am having a baby so the expansion of the horizons is on temporary hold for the time being…I am working on a few other things, though, that I cannot divulge at this time.
Address: 415 Lafayette, nr. 4th St.
Until we eat again,
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