Chef, author, and Chopped judge Alex Guarnaschelli loves pasta as much as anyone. She features pasta dishes on her menu at Butter, her acclaimed New York restaurant, and growing up in an Italian-American household, regularly ate pasta cooked by her mother and father.

But it wasn’t just Italian noodles in her childhood wheelhouse. Pasta dishes exist across cultures — something Chef Alex was exposed to growing up, citing her father’s love and reverence of Chinese and Thai cuisine, along with her mother’s Italian cooking, as a significant influence in her personal culinary journey.

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“When I think of pasta dishes, my father made all kinds of Chinese and Thai noodle dishes growing up,” Guarnaschelli told Uproxx last week. “Because while I’m Italian, my father felt the Chinese taught everyone everything about cooking and certainly pasta. So we had this equal measure of Italian classics and these Chinese and Thai noodle dishes.”

With National Pasta Day today, we spoke with the chef about her love of pasta, the balance between “cheffed up” pasta dishes and “from a jar,” and the pasta dishes home cooks should add to their repertoire to avoid falling in a pasta rut.

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