Alex Guarnaschelli Says the Menu She Created for the U.S. Open Captures 'Hints of New York Experiences'

·2 min read
Alex Guarnaschelli Chef at U.S. Open
Alex Guarnaschelli Chef at U.S. Open

Courtesy of the USTA

Alex Guarnaschelli is a tennis fan and a New Yorker, so being one of the chefs curating menus at the U.S. Open championships was a natural fit.

The Food Network star returns to the Grand Slam tennis tournament — which runs from Aug. 29 to Sept. 11 in Flushing, New York — with her Mediterranean pop-up Fare, where guests can have a full sit-down restaurant experience on the grounds of the Billie Jean National Tennis Center. The chef will also be serving dishes at the first Flavors of the Open culinary event on Aug. 25 during Fan Week — where guests can sample drinks and foods that will be available during the tournament, mingle with the celebrity chefs and watch a private players' practice session within Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Guarnaschelli tells PEOPLE that she knew she wanted to be a part of the U.S. Open culinary roster when she attended as a spectator years ago. "I was eating all this delicious food and watching the match, and it was beautiful. And I just thought, 'This makes me want to cook here,'" she says.

Chefs gather at the Food Tasting Preview, including Alex Guarnaschelli, Tom Colicchio, JJ Johnson, Josh Capon, David Burke, Ed Brown, Ash Fulk, Pat LaFrieda, Paul Denamiel, among others, at the 2021 US Open, Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021 in Flushing, NY.
Chefs gather at the Food Tasting Preview, including Alex Guarnaschelli, Tom Colicchio, JJ Johnson, Josh Capon, David Burke, Ed Brown, Ash Fulk, Pat LaFrieda, Paul Denamiel, among others, at the 2021 US Open, Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021 in Flushing, NY.

Darren Carroll/USTA

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"You can stand there and drink a giant soda and have a hot dog, or you can have another kind of experience where you're eating a fish tartar and an elegant salad. I love that the experiences at the Open run the gamut of whatever mood you're in," she adds.

The chef says the annual Grand Slam event offers a special culinary environment.

"People are looking for experiences that feel 360 [degrees]. There's comprehensive great food, great drink, great entertainment, ambiance. And then you have, on top of all of that, the sport itself," says the Alex vs. America star. "I went to the Open for a couple of years before I had my restaurant, Fare, and I just was sort of bowled over by the opulence and the elegance of it all."

A general view of the Cavatappi and Yellow Tomato Sauce Pasta, Shrimp Cocktail, and Watermelon and Feta Salad by Fare by Alex Guarnaschelli during the Food Tasting Preview at the 2021 US Open, Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021 in Flushing, NY
A general view of the Cavatappi and Yellow Tomato Sauce Pasta, Shrimp Cocktail, and Watermelon and Feta Salad by Fare by Alex Guarnaschelli during the Food Tasting Preview at the 2021 US Open, Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021 in Flushing, NY

Darren Carroll/USTA

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As for cuisine at Fare, Guarnaschelli says she was inspired by the city surrounding her — which is where she grew up — and the tournament itself. "More than anything, I'm a New Yorker. And I think part of the U.S. Open is the context it's in. We are in New York," says the chef, who uses local ingredients — including handmade burrata from Little Italy and Italian ices with pickled cherries — in homage to her hometown. "It all has hints of New York experiences," she says.

The self-proclaimed "rookie tennis player" admits the curated experiences at the tournament are what keeps her coming back year after year.

"I'm hoping that because I want to be there at the Open that everybody will come and join me, have a drink, have some snacks, watch some great tennis, and just enjoy the entire experience," she says.