Serving up surprises! Alex Guarnaschelli and Gabe Bertaccini hosted a “dysfunctional family” of chefs on season 1 of Ciao House — and the journey was packed with twists and turns.
Guarnaschelli, 53, and Bertaccini, 37, welcomed 10 talented contestants to an Italian villa for the high-stakes competition, which kicks off its debut season later this month. The food experts all lived under one roof in Tuscany throughout filming.
“The fact that they’re living together in one villa constantly, every day [and] competing for a long periods of time, [they’re] learning, traveling, thinking, writing down the recipes,” Bertaccini exclusively told Us Weekly ahead of the series premiere. “I think that contributes to the factor of pressure in the kitchen. And [thinking] like, ‘I need to win this. I’m here and I came a long way. I’m not gonna leave a loser.'”
The Butter executive chef hinted that fans had to “watch the show” to see how the competitors work — and live — alongside one another.
Guarnaschelli told Us that she’s “no stranger to competition shows” on the network, having appeared on Chopped, Guy’s Grocery Games, Iron Chef America, Supermarket Stakeout and more — but Ciao House brings a little extra spice to the format.
“This is a competition on another level because Italy is its own character in the play,” she explained. “So you have this 11th competitor, which is the context these chefs are in. … There’s this other little layer of competition.”
The Old-School Comfort Food cookbook author credited her cohost with helping her take a different approach to the series than she’s had before. “Gabe softened me up. He softened my rough edges,” she told Us. “I think that we thought a lot about the food in terms of not just what did you make in as it is delicious, but how did you draw from where we are? Did you pick up your head and look around? … We factored that in.”
While the twosome couldn’t spill any of the major secrets of the season, Bertaccini confessed that they both were “extremely surprised” by which chef came out on top. Guarnaschelli joked that the pair had a habit of being “basically dead wrong” throughout the entire season.
“This is actually the difference between Alex and I. Chef Alex is a competition chef. I’m not,” he explained. “You know, she thrives in [being like], ‘Hey, there is a banana, a piece of stale bread and some chocolate. Make me a dessert.’ … She thrives in this situation and she’s like, ‘OK, I’m gonna go, I’m gonna put my head down and I’m gonna cook it.'”
The Italy native continued: “I, on the other hand, I work very well with groups, with families. And so for me, like, being in a brigade, being with somebody else in a kitchen, it’s really where my strong point is.”
Guarnaschelli took a playful jab at the Say I Do personality, teasing, “He would pull out, like, eight books and 14 maps and be like, ‘The banana, I wonder where it began?'”
Ciao House premieres on Food Network Sunday, April 16, at 9 p.m. ET and streams the same day on Discovery+.