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Chef Alex Guarnaschelli: Balancing cooking and being on TV is a discipline all its own

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MIAMI BEACH, Fla. - Food Network chef Alex Guarnaschelli has a reality check for her peers trying to balance their roles as both chefs and television personalities: It's a lifestyle that comes with an expiration date.

"You have a shelf-life on TV," she joked during a panel discussion Friday at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival. And the exposure has a price.

As much as she enjoys the opportunity to promote herself on television, "Every once in a while I want to get up and cook," she said as the other chefs nodded. "I feel heartsick. Do I know what the soup of the day is?"

Guarnaschelli, who admitted she often doesn't, is chef at Butter in New York City and a winner of the Food Network's popular show "The Next Iron Chef." She recently took a hiatus from cooking because she felt "fried" and instead turned to teaching — "Having students was so inspiring." But the departure lasted just a year and she went right back to cooking — and cooking on television.

"You have to be disciplined about being in the kitchen," she said.

The chefs also chatted about the state of food television and the obsession with the next hot thing, and whether that includes more female chefs.

"This topic won't 'unhot' itself," said Guarnaschelli of often being asked about why more women aren't becoming big name chefs.

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