Celebrity chef Alex Guar­naschelli vis­ited campus last week to give a cooking demon­stra­tion and debut her first cook­book, Old-​​School Com­fort Food: The Way I Learned to Cook.

Guar­naschelli is highly regarded both in and out of the cooking world—and for good reason. For one, she is the exec­u­tive chef at two top restau­rants in New York City—The Darby and Butter. For another, she is a Food Net­work star, serving as a judge on Chopped and one of only two female chefs on Iron Chef America.

Guarnaschelli’s cook­book pays homage to her mother, she said, a respected cook­book editor who helped her daughter develop a pas­sion for food at a young age. As an avid pro­po­nent of making familiar foods into some­thing spe­cial, Guar­naschelli com­bines common ingre­di­ents with expert tech­niques in her book to help every at-​​home chef create mouth-​​watering meals.

A rare site, the Xhi­bi­tion Kitchen was filled to the brim with close to 160 hungry stu­dents, all lis­tening atten­tively for cooking tips and witty one-​​liners from the celebrity chef.

I didn’t decide to become a chef until after grad­u­ating from col­lege,” Guar­naschelli explained. “I sug­gest a pro­longed, exis­ten­tial youth crisis.”

To kick off the demon­stra­tion, Guar­naschelli took ques­tions from the crowd while preparing tomato sauce and meat­balls, a dish that atten­dees received as they arrived.

Throughout the hour-​​long event, she divulged a breadth of insider infor­ma­tion, which included a cov­eted briefing of her pantry and refrig­er­ator must-​​haves.

I use a splash of Worces­ter­shire sauce in every­thing, I like pickles for the juice, I use capers spar­ingly but always fried, and I use Dijon mus­tard so much that I almost put it in a cake the other day,” she said.

Guar­naschelli also dis­cussed her favorite Boston restau­rants. “A lot of liking a restau­rant has to do with liking the person behind it,” Guar­naschelli said. “I had the roast chicken at Craigie on Main and it was trans­porting, I also ate at Clio last night and prac­ti­cally crawled out of there.”

At the end of the demon­stra­tion, 10 lucky atten­dees won a copy of Old-​​School Com­fort Food. Many others had their cook­book signed and took photos with the celebrity chef.