SCENE EVERYBODY’S TALKING ABOUT IT…
Chef and cookbook author Alex Guarnaschelli tests out another trade as she takes the stage at Guild Hall as part of the Carolines @ the Beach Comedy series.
A chef and two comedians walk into a theater… “I don’t think comedy is jokes; I think comedy comes in the truth,” says the chef Alex Guarnaschelli, who is best known for her work at NYC’s popular restaurant Butter, her Old-School Comfort Food cookbook, and her appearances on Chopped and Iron Chef.
Now Guarnaschelli is appearing alongside veteran comics Judy Gold, Karen Bergreen, and Yamaneika Saunders at Guild Hall’s Carolines @ The Beach on August 5. “I realized in the past couple of years that the kitchen on any given evening during dinner service is really the same as an improv comedy show,” she says.
Guarnaschelli has worked in such esteemed kitchens as Daniel, under Daniel Boulud, and the three-Michelin-star Guy Savoy in Paris, among others, before taking the helm of Butter. “There’s only one way to get through all that cooking and all that pressure, and that’s really laughing about it a little bit to ease the tension,” she says.
Her Guild Hall routine is called “Busting My Chops,” and she’s developing material with the “obvious pun” on pork chops or veal chops, coupled with actual comedy chops. “My brand of humor really comes from mixing together food and comedy,” she says.
“Chefs are thought of as these unusual, kind of alien creatures—and we are—but the truth of the matter is there’s a universal funny in feeling like you’re not completely prepared for dinner service, or that you may have a great dinner service but your love life is in a complete shambles because you spent the last 10 days filleting fish and not socializing.”
Also, this summer, Guarnaschelli will be joining other esteemed chefs such as Josh Capon, Tom Colicchio, and Christian Mir at the 12th annual Chefs Dinner to benefit the Hayground School and celebrate its 20th anniversary. Away from the kitchen or the comedy stage, the Manhattan native spent her childhood summers in Montauk, and now Guarnaschelli has a house in Bridgehampton.
“Because the farmstand produce is so great, I actually cook and stay in a lot [in the Hamptons],” says the chef, who frequents Balsam and Pike Farms. “I cook for friends—it’s really recreational therapy for me.” When she does dine out, she prefers to keep it simple. “I just love going to get a slice at Conca D’Oro in Sag Harbor,” she says. “I go to Hampton Chutney, and I eat lentil soup and drink chai tea. I like the Beacon a lot—the basics.”
Just don’t expect her to open her own restaurant out East. “The Hamptons is somewhere I go for recreation, and if I create work there, I’ll just go there and work,” Guarnaschelli says. “It’s actually more inspiration and recreation, and I’m working hard to keep it that way.” The Hayground School Chefs Dinner, July 31 at Hayground School, 151 Mitchell Lane, Bridgehampton. Carolines @ The Beach, August 5 at Guild Hall, 158 Main St., East Hampton.