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May 3, 2007
I am the daughter of esteemed cookbook editor Maria Guarnaschelli, and spent my childhood surrounded by food. I learned to eat according to whatever book my mother was working on at the time: one year was devoted to Indian with Classic Indian Cooking by Julie Sahni; another year was devoted to Italian with The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper.
This early emphasis on my palate truly my future in food. On the day of my graduation from Barnard College in 1991, I decided to explore my culinary interests and began working under the tutelage of the acclaimed American chef and restaurateur Larry Forgione.
Forgione encouraged me to travel and expand my skill set, so I obligingly moved to France to do a work study at La Varenne Culinary School in Burgundy. After school and traveling throughout France, I moved to Paris to begin a four day stage at the Michelin three-star restaurant Guy Savoy. Four days turned into four years where I was rapidly promoted to sous chef at La Butte Chailllot, another Savoy establishment.
The first three months were terrifying—imagine being a young American woman in charge of a French kitchen with 10 young, male cooks under you? Professionally, it was a life-changing experience.
After seven successful years in France, I returned stateside. I maintained my connection with French cuisine, joining the venerable Daniel Boulud at restaurant Daniel, where I quickly become sous chef at the Manhattan standard. Always looking to expand my culinary knowledge, I moved to Los Angeles for two years to join Joachim Splichal’s Patina Group, where I worked at the acclaimed Patina restaurant in West Hollywood. After two years, I returned to my hometown to delve into American cooking. Splichal sent me to open Nick and Stef’s Steakhouse, his first NYC venture.
In 2003, I was given the opportunity to expand my repertoire and become the executive chef at Butter Restaurant, where I my own eclectic American and green market-inspired menu. In addition to my restaurant work, I work as a Chef-Instructor at New York City’s Institute of Culinary Education.