What Chefs Cook When They Go Home
Warning: These dishes will make you incredibly hungry.
Published Sep 24, 2017 7:00 AM
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Even when these gastronomes are off duty, they’re usually still in the kitchen, whipping up culinary delights for friends and family. From ramen and tacos to breakfast sandwiches and po’ boys, this is what they’re craving when they’re not at their restaurants.
– Chef Massimiliano Eandi of Raviolo
I grew up making ravioli alongside my grandmother, who taught me everything she knew about making pasta. When I make this, I like to make it with a group.
Everyone has a specific job: The strongest stirs the pasta, the most precise closes the ravioli, and whomever takes care of the family budget is in charge of filling the pasta—he or she knows exactly how much to put in, and this is a very serious job.
Of course, you need a chef who can make the filling (that’s my job). Making pasta brings back many happy memories, and when it’s time to celebrate, ravioli is my go-to crowd pleaser.
Hot Sausage Po’ Boy
– Chef Michael Gulotta of Maypop
If I’m really craving food after work, a hot sausage po’ boy is my pick—toasted bread, lots of mayonnaise, tomato, lettuce, and pickle. If it’s for the holidays, my family’s number one dish for celebrations is “Grillades and Grits”—beef top round (or sometimes pork shoulder) pounded out into cutlets, and then browned and slow braised with onions, peppers, garlic, and tomato. It’s served atop cheesy grits, and is soooo good!
Christmas Eve is always N’Casciata—a Sicilian dish of mostaccioli pasta baked with ground beef, tomatoes, and thin fried eggplant, served with anise sausage. Christmas Day is always oyster gumbo with filé. Oh, and if we have some nice big shrimp, my mom always makes barbecued shrimp served with toasted french bread. It’s hard for a New Orleanian to have a favorite food.
– Chef Ho Chee Boon of Hakkasan NYC
My favorite dish to make for friends and family is bak-kut-teh. This is a traditional Malaysian soup with braised pork ribs and a mixture of special herbs. I add mushrooms and dried tofu to give it more flavor and texture.
Toast with Homemade Pistachio Butter
– Chef Eric Sibley of Vessel NOLA
Typically, I like to cook easy while at home, but I find myself cooking with as much technique and passion there as I am while in the professional kitchen. It might be a grilled pork loin chop, or a piece of toast with homemade pistachio butter and preserves.
When I say easy, I guess I mean comfortable. I stick to the food I knew growing up: pork roast, duck gumbo, coq au vin, roast beef with rice and gravy, fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, pickled mushrooms, and fresh greens tossed in red wine vinaigrette.
World Famous Macaroni and Cheese
– Chef Dan Fleming of Primal Cut
My absolute favorite thing to make at home is my world famous (or it should be!) macaroni and cheese. There are so many different ways to go about it—you can be daring and add beef, bacon, or even chicken.
You can ‘try’ to make it healthier by adding vegetables (I never choose this route). You can even add Sriracha if you want to give it a little kick. But above all, it must be finished with some sort of breadcrumb, and my garlic breadcrumbs top them all.
This dish was one of the best things my mom would make for me growing up as a kid. I came from a very humble background, so macaroni and cheese made its way to the menu a few nights a week—which wasn’t a bad thing at all, in my opinion. There’s a sense of nostalgia in my cooking, since my mother has always been my inspiration—and the reason for me becoming a chef.
Chorizo and Chestnut Stuffing
– Chef Ron Fougeray of Splashes
Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays for many reasons—the food, the family, and the football, what’s not to love? Also, it’s one of the few holidays when I’m not stuck making the whole menu. In our family, everyone is responsible for a part of the dinner. I always make three dishes: cranberry orange Grand Marnier sauce, chanterelle and Madeira fricassee, and what has become the staple—my chorizo and chestnut stuffing.
When I lived in Philadelphia, I used to make the baguettes for the restaurant every day. So, on Thanksgiving one year, I made the stuffing with the extra baguettes left over from the previous service. The flavor of a house made bread brought the stuffing to another level, so since then, I always make sure to make extra bread on the days before Thanksgiving.
– Chef Edgar Beas of The Anasazi Restaurant
At home, I tend to cook more simple things. For breakfast, I like to make croque madame. For lunch, local cheeses with charcuterie and bread is a simple and delicious option. I will go for more complicated recipes for dinner, such as homemade pastas like cavatelli, gnocchi, or filled pastas. I also enjoy cooking a variety of paella (Valenciana or squid ink) and whole roasted primals that vary among beef, lamb, and game.
My favorite midnight snacks are tacos de tripa or soft bread and bacon. For Thanksgiving, I typically prepare one dish—usually a pasta or poultry, but I actually forgo turkeys for this occasion since I prefer duck or goose. As for Christmas, I’ll whip up a full feast, but I make it a special point to prepare lots of tamales.
To me, chilaquiles is the ultimate comfort food. They’re super easy to make, and you can use store-bought salsa. But I like to quickly make a salsa verde by simply blending together avocado, jalapeño, cilantro, a little onion, and lime juice—as if you were making guacamole. Then, I puree the mixture with a little olive oil and chicken stock (or water), with a dash of tequila.
Simmer that until it reduces slightly, and simply toss with tortilla chips. You can fold it in virtually anything: chicken, steak, whatever you want. Get the chips nicely browned and soaked with the salsa verde, and top with cheese. Voila—instant satisfaction!
– Chef Kaytlin Dangaran of Verde Miami
My go-to Thanksgiving menu includes ham, biscuits, my mom’s artichoke dip, and pickled shrimp. A few years ago, while looking through my grandmother’s old recipes, my mother found one for this shrimp. It was so successful, we’re now required to make it every single year on Thanksgiving.
– Chef David Dunlap of Maple & Pine
When I get home from a long night in the kitchen, I want something easy, quick, and delicious. So, I often lean toward ramen noodles. I normally have chicken stock readily available, so I make a broth with that as the base and use Hondashi, scallions, and garlic-chili paste to flavor the broth.
I always poach an egg or two while the noodles are cooking. This meal takes about five to 10 minutes to prepare, and is so satisfying.
– Chef David Bazirgan of Bambara Kitchen & Bar
This spin on a classic Armenian sweet bread is served as a meal starter at Bambara, and is a variation of my grandmother’s family recipe. We make the bread for family meals at home, and our friends and family are happy to eat it at the restaurant as well.
Slow-Roasted Pork Tacos
– Chef Brandon Sharp of The Carolina Inn, A Destination Hotel
We have three rowdy kids, so this is an easy and delicious dinner. I recommend country-style pork ribs for this, which are cheap, boneless, and tough as nails until I roast them nice and slow with some cloves of garlic. At this point in the process, we may even head out to the pool or the park for a couple of hours.
At the table, it’s a DIY taco feast. We usually put out warm tortillas, black beans, shredded cabbage with lime and mayo, more limes, and either a chunky salsa or Trader Joe’s Green Dragon Hot Sauce, which is great with fatty pork. To drink, Dale’s Pale Ale or cold Chablis.
Sweet and Sour Braised Cabbage
– Chef Wolfgang Puck of Wolfgang Puck American Grille
To me and to most Americans, one of the biggest parts of the holidays is, of course, the food. Having been born and raised in Austria, I always mix in some of my favorite traditional Austrian dishes when entertaining for a group of friends or the family. For Thanksgiving, I especially love sweet and sour braised cabbage, slow braised chestnuts, and potato puree with truffles. Cooking around the holidays is always an adventure.