5@5 - Chef Alex Guarnaschelli
July 26th, 2010
05:00 PM ET
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5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

Along with being the executive chef at New York City's Butter restaurant, Alex Guarnaschelli may ring a bell as a recurring judge on the popular Food Network series "Chopped," and host of her own Food Network show, "Alex’s Day Off." Oh, and might we mention her four-year stint in Guy Savoy's three Michelin-starred kitchen in grand ol' Paree? Thought so.

Before all that, she was the young daughter of cookbook editor, Maria Guarnaschelli, feasting on the foods of whatever book her mother was editing at the time. In the spirit of her mother, Guarnaschelli shares her five favorite cookbooks that'll be sure to stir up culinary fervor in any aspiring cook.

Five Favorite Cookbooks: Alex Guarnaschelli

1. "The Gourmet Cooking School Cookbook" by Dione Lucas
"My mother referred to this book and cooked from it all through my childhood. There are amazing retro recipes in here. My favorite is the cheese soufflé that is possibly the tastiest thing I have ever eaten."

2. "Classic Indian Cooking" by Julie Sahni
"Another classic from my childhood, every recipe taste better than the next! The basmati rice recipes, in particular, are beyond delicious and so aromatic. They fill the kitchen with amazing aromas and aren't hard to make."

3. "An American Place – Celebrating The Flavors of America" by Larry Forgione
"He was the first chef I ever worked for and this book is essentially a compilation of all the recipes I made and watched being made at the restaurant during that period. It was so exciting to watch American ingredients be treated so simply with such integrity. This definitely contributed to my own point of view as a chef."

4. "Bold American Food" by Bobby Flay
"This was such an exciting book because I worked in such classical French kitchens - southwestern flavors and spices were considered blasphemy. It was so exciting to be exposed, through this book, to another world of flavors, ingredients and textures. I also ate at Bolo (now closed) and experienced the sensibility of these recipes firsthand. An inspiration."

5. "Simple Cuisine: The Easy, New Approach to Four-Star Cooking" by Jean-Georges Vongerichten
"When this book came out, I felt like an alien landed in the kitchen. Infused oils, simple recipes that created such distilled, intense flavors. For me, it embodied what great, clear techniques can bring to the table: visually stunning, simplistic and flavorful food."

Got an essential cookbook in your kitchen library? Spill suggestions in the comments below.

Is there someone you'd like to see in the hot seat? Let us know in the comments below and if we agree, we'll do our best to chase 'em down.

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soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. Maurice Selva

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    December 29, 2013 at 4:47 am |
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    December 20, 2013 at 3:03 am |
  3. GoCarrie

    Any of Jeff Smith's Frugal Gourmet Books!!!

    July 27, 2010 at 11:43 am |
    • Dave

      I completely agree with GoCarrie! I have al of the Jeff Smith cookbooks. He was a great researcher. 90% of the recipies in his books are from other cooks from all over America & the world. Very sad he turned out to be a sick pedophile!!!

      July 27, 2010 at 2:20 pm |
  4. amayda

    I love her. She is genuine and passionate about her food and reminds me of Tyler Florence who is another favorite of mine. Thanks for the great article!

    July 27, 2010 at 11:41 am |
  5. Debbi

    The Bride & Groom First & Forever Cookbook by Mary Corpening Barber & Sara Corpening Whiteford. The first part of the title is inconsequential – this cookbook taught me how to make a lasagna using their recipe and then how to customize, using my personal tastes. It has the best banana bread recipe I've ever eaten in it as well as a truly amazing holiday turkey that restored my love for Thanksgiving after too many years of dry, tasteless white meat. This is the only cookbook I own that has provided more than two recipes to my repertoire and is all too often found cluttering my counter while my other cookbooks sit neatly in place on the bookshelf.

    July 27, 2010 at 10:16 am |
    • Susan

      Do you have that recipe for lasagna? I've used it before and it was amazing! Can't find it now, I've been searching the internet with no luck. Guess I should just buy the cookbook, haha. No longer married, so it seemed weird to keep. Hmm.

      August 8, 2010 at 4:12 pm |
  6. Jackie

    I'm sorry but including Bobby Flay in her list? Clearly a major suck up opp and debt to her employers. Sheesh.

    July 27, 2010 at 9:55 am |
  7. cookanddishwasher.blogspot.com

    I love Alex's Day off...particularly when that cute butcher makes an appearance.
    As for cookbooks, my favorites include Quick Vegetarian Pleasures by Jeanne Lemlin. Cook's Illustrated The New Best Recipes is also a great how-to and reference.

    July 27, 2010 at 9:24 am |
  8. bakernotcook

    Gotta go with Baking with Julia – every recipe has worked wonderfully the first time. Also, The Cake Bible, by Rose Levy Berenbaum – the explanations are great, and everything has come out really well even on the first time through.

    July 27, 2010 at 9:11 am |
  9. Rebecca

    'The Joy of Cooking' is a definite go-to. As are Molly Katzen's 'Still Life with Menu', Jamie Oliver's 'Cook with Jamie' and I've recently become TOTALLY obsessed with the Lee Brothers' 'Simple Fresh Southern'.

    July 27, 2010 at 9:07 am |
  10. bvilleyellowdog

    Japanese Cooking A Simple Art....

    July 27, 2010 at 8:46 am |
  11. ThatBelle

    Love Alex! When I first started watching her, I was not so sure...but she's come to be one of my faves on the Food Network. On her show, she does an excellent job of keeping things easy to understand and expressing aromas, flavors, textures, etc- you can see that she really does love food and cooking!
    She may have omitted some of the more popular cookbooks of the world, but the point of the article was to list *her* 5 favorite. I'll definitely be checking out her suggestions as well as others that have been mentioned in the comments. Thanks, everyone, for some great suggestions!

    July 27, 2010 at 7:23 am |
  12. sdd

    The cookbooks I turn to over and over are: Yamuna Devi's "Lord Krishna's Cuisine", Kurma Dasa's "Great Vegetarian Cooking", and several different editions of Fannie Farmer. Between the three, everything is in reach.

    July 27, 2010 at 4:13 am |
  13. Franzcooks

    This is a typical NYC snob. Don't mention "The Joy of Cooking" or "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" or even the Paul Prudohme (sp) books. As much as people despise Gordon Ramsay, his mantra, "Good Food Simply Cooked" rules. Maybe I'll write my own cookbook. I've got a website http://www.franzcooks.com.

    July 27, 2010 at 1:08 am |
  14. N Jones

    My favorite and most used books:

    Everyday Mexican by Rick Bayless, a fantastic introduction to regional mexican cusine
    The Joy of Cooking, total classic
    Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan
    The Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, for baking classic american deserts

    July 26, 2010 at 11:39 pm |
  15. Jim Haviland

    The Feast of Santa Fe by Huntley Dent, The China Moon Cook Book by Barbara Tropp and Mostly Mediterranean by Paula Wolfert

    July 26, 2010 at 9:29 pm |
  16. LFA

    Splendor in the Bluegrass: A Cookbook by the Junior League of Louisville. Easily my favorite and most useful cookbook. That book has been a part of so many special meals. It really represents the cuisine of my hometown.

    July 26, 2010 at 8:13 pm |
  17. Mrs. Hamlet

    What, no love for Julia? Mastering the Art of French Cooking has been my BFF for close to 20 years. The woman did things with butter that are just sinful.

    July 26, 2010 at 8:08 pm |
  18. Lauren

    for the commoner who needs THE BASICS:
    How to Cook Everything (Mark Bittman) – it is what it is & I can't live without it!
    Barefoot in Paris (In Garten) – for the quintessential roast chicken and more
    Coastal Living Cookbook (by the editors of Coastal Living) – ALL seafood and related recipes
    The Sunset Grill (by the editors of Sunset magazine) – wide selection of fresh, simple, grill-able dishes
    Cover & Bake (by the editors of Cook's Illustrated) – who doesn't want dinner to be easy?
    Enjoy ;)

    July 26, 2010 at 7:58 pm |
  19. Mary-Beth

    The best baker's cookbook in the world was written by Rose Naftlin, 1975, titled, "Grandma Rose's book of Sinfully Delicious Cakes, Cookies, Pies, Cheese Cakes, Cakes Rolls & Pastries," published by Random House.

    Mrs. Naftalin was the owner of Rose's deli in Portland, Oregon, for those in the Northwest who knew of her extraordinary menu and eye-poppin' cake displays, not to mention her huge and glorious cinnamon rolls. I have kept this book my secret for thrity years, but the next generation needs this cook book to know what the best recipes look like and taste like.

    July 26, 2010 at 7:41 pm |
  20. kate

    I hate this woman. She's mean on chopped and obnoxious on The Best Thing I Ever Ate.

    July 26, 2010 at 7:31 pm |
    • EL

      They are supposed to be harsh on Chopped – that is what makes the show entertaining.

      July 26, 2010 at 8:45 pm |
  21. Andrew M

    My go to is the Escoffier Cookbook.

    July 26, 2010 at 7:00 pm |
  22. Jessie Williams

    I love her, when she talks about food you can really see how passionate she is about it. I really enjoy the show Chopped and she always brings good commentary to the table while judging. Thank you for this article!

    July 26, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
    • chris goodwin

      This woman is overrated NYC, snob. The only reason why she's on radar-is she's a no talent woman, plain and simple–quota chef.-Go and have dinner at butter on a monday night. The mexicans, afircans and asians are working and she receives the shine.

      August 19, 2010 at 1:24 am |
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