Butter's Famous Guests Alex Guarnaschelli Fangirled Over - Exclusive

When Alex Guarnaschelli isn't filming for Food Network — whether it's judging on "Chopped," hosting "The Kitchen," or competing on "Alex vs America" – she's hard at work running her restaurant, Butter, in New York City. The famed Manhattan hot spot is centered around seasonally focused, upscale, farm-to-table cuisine. It's celebrating 20 years in business, with Guarnaschelli at the helm as Executive Chef since 2003 (per Cooking Channel).

"We can't believe it's still open," Guarnaschelli said fondly when we asked her about Butter's success while catching up at the New York City Wine and Food Festival recently. "That was our joke tagline in the kitchen — really just a bunch of pirates with a lot of good produce." Well, those pirates are responsible for running one of NYC's coolest places to see and be seen since it opened in 2002. Butter, which began with a nightclub before becoming a full-blown restaurant, has seen a range of VIP guests in its heyday, from actors and musicians to journalists, chefs, and Manhattan elites. 

You could say Guarnaschelli has seen it all in her dining room and had the chance to cook for pretty exciting and interesting people along the way. Speaking exclusively with Mashed, she shared some of the most memorable guests she's served at Butter over the years, revealing exactly who makes her fangirl, even as a celebrity chef.

Alex Guarnaschelli has served movie stars, famous activists, and more

When you've been running a restaurant for 20 years and serving some of the biggest names from Hollywood to the Big Apple, it might be hard to recall the most unforgettable of nights as dish after dish and guest after guest become a blur. As Alex Guarnaschelli confirms to Mashed, "We have fed every celebrity on the planet. We really have. We've seen it all."

There are, in fact, a few experiences that still stick out for Guarnaschelli to this day. "I have to say that Denzel Washington was iconic." It's understandable that anyone would be stunned if the Academy Award-winning actor walked through their door. Guarnaschelli admitted that she was so in awe that she can barely remember what he ordered. "I was too starstruck," she said. "I was like, 'Just make everything in the whole neighborhood and bring it.'"

Another standout moment for Guarnaschelli was when the famous writer and activist, Gloria Steinem, dined at Butter. "I got this little card while I was in the kitchen," Guarnaschelli recalls after cooking for her. "Gloria Steinem. [She] wrote me a note saying how good the food was." It's hard to beat a compliment like that. With that roster of happy guests, plus a menu designed by one of the best in the business, it's no wonder Butter has prevailed as long as it has.

For the latest from chef Alex Guarnaschelli, follow her on Instagram. Plus, click here to learn more about the annual Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival Presented by Capital One, and be sure to check out the highlights from this year's event.