10 Professional Chefs Reveal the Dishes They Hate Cooking the Most
Even people who love cooking enough to make a living out of it have one recipe that they dread. We asked pro chefs which dishes drive them crazy, and, from condiments to complicated courses to desserts, here’s what they had to say.
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“The first is shrimp and grits and the other one is chicken and waffles. Whenever folks from other parts of the country come to the Gulf South, these seem to be the two dishes that they most often identify with our culture. However, neither one of these recipes is indigenous to our area. Shrimp and grits, though Southern, is not a Gulf dish; it is a Carolina staple, having originated with the Gullah people in South Carolina.
“Chicken and waffles, on the other hand, is not a Southern meal at all. Chicken and waffles originated in New York City and came to national prominence in Los Angeles, California. Decades later it made its way to Atlanta and from there throughout the rest of the South. I am often asked to do my spin on these two dishes and I of course oblige but I don’t enjoy doing them.” —Chef Stuart Reb Donald, co-host of “Sip & Chew with Mike and Stu” on FM Talk 1065 in Mobile, AL. We’re guessing that chicken and waffles is on the list of foods professional chefs never order at brunch.
“My least favorite dish to make is definitely deep dish pizza. Of all the pizza styles on the world, it’s not my preference. It’s too heavy!” —Tony Mantuano, award-winning chef at Chicago’s Michelin-starred Spiaggia
“I truly dread making ranch dressing. Not because it is hard to make, but because of what people do with it. I truly believe ranch destroys all the amazing flavors chefs work so hard to create. In my opinion, it is a dishonor to the chef to make great-tasting food and then have the customer pour ranch dressing all over it. I consider it a flavor hinderer and it’s always on my mind in the kitchen.” —Michael C. Brown, chef at Barrel Republic and Jalisco Cantina in San Diego, CA
“It was kind of a joke in culinary school that whoever masters hollandaise can master anything! Hollandaise is very high maintenance…[For one thing], egg yolks contain lecithin, which naturally emulsifies with the warm butter when properly warmed and whipped. If the sauce is too hot or too cold, not whipped properly, or if the ingredient ratios are off, this will cause the sauce to break. A sauce breaking is the equivalent of driving a car and the wheels all of a sudden fall off!
“[For another], hollandaise has to be stored between 150 degrees F and 45 degrees F for no more than 1.5 hours! If not stored at the correct temperature or length of time, the sauce will break and/or become a health code violation. This means that in every restaurant, they have to be constantly re-making the hollandaise and continuously monitoring its temperature. The combination of this sauce being difficult to master, accompanied with its extremely finicky shelf life, makes this recipe one of my most difficult and dreaded recipes in the kitchen.” —Michele Sidorenkov, trained chef and registered dietician nutritionist. Maybe that’s why sauces are one of the foods even professional chefs cook in the microwave.
“Although I love eating and having my guests eat fish soup, I dread making it because it takes two to three days to execute. I wish people [knew how] hard and technical it is to make a fish soup. First, you need to marinate all the fish you will use for the soup with saffron, olive oil, leeks, fennel, garlic, spices, and tarragon and let it sit for two or three days. For the perfect fish soup, you also need to make a lobster stock (which needs to be cooked for 35 minutes otherwise it will be bitter) and clean and cook mussels to make a mussel juice. Then after all these steps, you can finalize the fish soup after a few days of planning!” —Martial Noguier, chef at Chicago’s Bistronomic French bistro
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“Honestly, my least favorite dish to make is veal scaloppini. I’m not a big fan of veal to begin with, but the process of pounding out the veal and then dusting it with flour…it’s an unappetizing process between the process of cooking it without burning the flour, while also getting a nice sear, all while service is flying around you. Just not the most fun or appealing dish.” —Steven Lona, Executive Chef at Waterbar in San Diego. It sure sounds tasty, though, just like these other comfort foods professional chefs make at home.
[The] one thing I hate making, which is unfortunate because I love eating it, is gnocchi…There are so many variables that go into making gnocchi. In my experience, it doesn’t matter how good your recipe is, no two batches are ever created the same way. The humidity in the room matters; how you store the potatoes matters; how you cook, cool, and rice the potatoes matters; the flour matters; the egg matters and so on. And then, of course, there is the rolling, cutting, dragging, flouring, and printing that goes into making each perfect little pillow.” —Yankel Polak, head chef at ButcherBox
“It’s a timeless, classic, delicious, labor-intensive dessert that takes a lot of attention and care to come out perfectly. The finishing touch is an extra drizzle of our house-made chocolate sauce. So many steps, so worth it!” —Charles Hoffman, chef at Claude’s Restaurant at New York’s Southampton Inn. If you want to cook like the pros, brush up on these cooking tricks that are only taught in culinary schools.
Chocolate lava cake
“My body shudders when being tasked with a molten chocolate cake—also known as the ‘chocolate lava cake’…I used to just shy away from making it completely because the result would either be a dessert worth a standing ovation or double down on thumbs across the board. Seriously, who needs that much pressure? There are just so many variables to consider when making it, and at any one point you could end up with a solid chocolate cake, as opposed to the oozing delicious centre that the chocolate lava cake is known for. So I guess it’s one of the desserts that scares me outright because I take too much pride in what I do for it not to be perfect.” —Jason Roberts, celebrity chef and author of Good Food— Fast!: Deliciously Healthy Gluten-Free Meals for People on the Go
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“I hate baking…You need a million different ingredients, all precisely measured, mixed, portioned, and cooked, which means you also need a million different pieces of equipment. All to make one thing! In particular, I hate making blueberry muffins. You have to bake and then be especially careful when folding in the blueberries so it doesn’t stain the entire batter-mix. The problem is, I’m good at it and my family and friends love it when I bake. Seeing them get excited when they smell the muffins start to bake and watching their faces light up as they take their first bite into them provides all the reason I need to keep on baking.” —Tony Campos, chef for Territory Foods and Elite Eats. Now that you know what chefs don’t like to make, find out what they don’t like to eat: These are the foods chefs never order in restaurants.