Alex Guarnaschelli Actually Does Know How to Cook Pasta

updated May 24, 2019
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(Image credit: Squire Fox)

Cooking dried pasta is a relatively easy thing to do. You boil some salted water, add your dried pasta, let the pasta sit in the water for a handful of minutes, and drain the water. Not too complicated, right?

But it turns out some people still get it wrong. Take my Hatian mother for example: She use to crack a box of of long pasta in half so it would fit in a pot of boiling water. As a result, we never got that perfect spaghetti fork twirl. As I made my way through Twitter the other day, I was reminded of this culinary mishap thanks to a joke from Food Network star Alex Guarnaschelli.

Food & Wine recently did a kitchen tour of Alex Guarnaschelli’s Hamptons kitchen. Fellow judge on Chopped, Scott Conant, saw the article on Twitter and commented on how gorgeous the tour was. “This is GORGEOUS and thoughtful Alex. Stunning! I’ll be over for lunch in a bit.”

In a playful response, Guarnaschelli replied “Great!!! I’ll break the dry spaghetti in half and add olive oil to the water so it comes out better!”

Clearly a joke at the expense of Italian cuisine compadre Conant — whose spaghetti Chopped host Ted Allen once said “ruined almost everybody else’s pasta dishes for me forever” — some on her feed reacted with confusion.

Some appreciated the obvious joke.

And some wondered why a chef of her caliber would do such a heinous act to those lil’ sticks of starch.

Too many people for Guarnaschelli’s comfort thought she wasn’t joking so she later had to issue a retraction, of sorts, saying, “This was a joke and what NOT to do. Let me be clear.”

For perspective, Guarnaschelli’s followers are well-versed with the cooking techniques of the author of The Home Cook: Recipes to Know by Heart (I mean, there’s long, delicious spaghetti right on the cover). Just peep this exchange to see why some say you’re not supposed to add oil to the water when cooking pasta.

As for the breaking your pasta in half part, that should be obvious to anyone who has had the misfortune of trying to eat a plate of one-inch, sliced spaghetti, prepared by your mom. But for those who don’t: just wait for the submerged part to soften, and then slide the rest in.