Alex Guarnaschelli on kitchen fails and being a ship’s godmother

Chef Alex Guarnaschelli was recently named godmother of Princess Cruises’ newest ship, the Discovery Princess. “Being on a ship like that just made me want to give into the experience of food being curated for me,” she says. (Photo: Getty; designed by Quinn Lemmers)

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Alex Guarnaschelli is not a fan of the term “kitchen fail.”

“I don’t love the word ‘fail’ with food because I think, other than burning food, cooking can be a journey and you can sometimes pivot and come up with something better,” the Iron Chef competitor and Chopped judge tells Yahoo Life, “or something just as good but different.”

“I’d like to actually banish the word ‘failure,'” she continues, “and only say that, when you burn food you can’t eat it again but other than that, you can often make something better: It’s just something different.”

Guarnaschelli, who hosts Supermarket Stakeout, spoke with Yahoo Life after being named a godparent to Princess Cruises’ newest ship, the Discovery Princess. The 52-year-old chef says she had the opportunity to tour the ship’s massive kitchens on its christening voyage, and says she was “overwhelmed — in a good sense” by the scale.

Alex Guarnaschelli with her fellow ship godparents at the christening of the Discovery Princess. (Photo: Princess Cruises)

Alex Guarnaschelli with her fellow ship godparents at the christening of the Discovery Princess. (Photo: Princess Cruises)

“It wouldn’t be fair to compare it [to a restaurant kitchen],” she says. “If you had to potentially strap a pot to the wall because of the ocean — it never gets that rough in Midtown Manhattan. Dealing with the level of adversity that a ship could present by way of Mother Nature is something to consider as far as how thought out these ships are.”

While on board the ship, Guarnaschelli says she “felt a genuine relinquishing of the need to choose” her meals, instead eating the foods prepared by the ship’s crew. “Being on a ship like that just made me want to give into the experience of food being curated for me,” she explains.

But what does it mean to be a ship’s godmother? Godparents of cruise ships traditionally attend the vessel’s christening and announce the name of the ship. Queen Elizabeth II is the godmother of P&O Cruises’ Britannia, while Helen Mirren holds the title over Scenic’s Eclipse. For the Discovery Princess, Guarnaschelli shares the title with Say Yes to the Dress star Randy Fenoli, Mythbusters star Adam Savage and HGTV’s Page Turner.

“Being asked to be the godparents to a ship, they said to us, ‘You’re a godparent of this ship forever.'” Guarnaschelli says, “That it was something lasting and enduring and I’d always feel this connection to the ship and knowing people like Lady Di (godmother of Princess’ Royal Princess) for example, have had the same honor in the past? It had a lot of meaning to me.”

When she’s not traveling the open seas, Guarnaschelli says she enjoys cooking at home. Some of her go-to pantry items? “I’m a big Dijon mustard person,” she says. “Capers, red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, rice wine vinegar, low sodium soy sauce — a lot of little flavor additives. I use Worcestershire sauce a lot and fish sauce — just additives that make things taste like they’ve cooked far longer than they have.”

Still dairy and pasta are her ultimate comfort foods. “Lasagna is a really big one, and baked potatoes with sour cream,” she says. “Bagels with cream cheese — I guess it’s often dairy that I associate with comfort.”

Guarnaschelli has a 14-year-old daughter, and says being a celebrity chef, cooking as a family can sometimes be “complicated.”

“I think your kids, when they’re teenagers, they’re curious about what you do and who you are, they identify with you but they also have a feeling where they want to forge their own paths and identities,” she explains. “When Ava wants to cook with me, we do. And when she doesn’t, I don’t pressure her.”

“There’s maybe hypersensitivity with the kitchen in my house because I don’t want her to feel like she has to,” she adds. “I kind of give her her own space with food and cooking. What I’ve found so far is that she loves to cook because she goes in the kitchen and makes something on her own terms. It’s not my recipe. It’s not my way. It’s her finding her own way.”

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