A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

10 Things Chefs Never, Ever Order at Brunch

Chefs would rather starve than eat these particular brunch foods—here's why.

Kateryna Mostova/Shutterstock

Doughnuts—they leave a hole in your soul

Yes, they’re delicious, but all-day-long satisfying and healthy? Not so much. Chef Deb Gangale, of Claude’s at the Southampton Inn, won’t go near these sticky treats on a brunch table. “Although they’re a sweet, sugary, delicious indulgence, they also tend to be one of the least healthy brunch choices. I like to lean towards healthier, more savory brunch items, because they sustain me without causing a mid-day sugar crash,” she explains. These are the nine foods nutritionists never, ever order at fast food chains.

Arkadiusz Fajer/Shutterstock

Scrambled eggs—when they’re bad, they’re really bad

Eggs are brunch’s holy grail—not to mention a nutritional godsend. Do them right, and they’re the stuff of golden, fluffy dreams. Prepare them badly, and you’ve just lost your customer. Polynesian chef extraordinaire, Felix Tai, understands the unique simplicity of this all-important, and telling, brunch staple. “A good egg with some audacious cheese to help with your Saturday night hangover can be good, if it’s cooked well. I love eggs, but I would rather starve if they’re not cooked right. This simple item is one that lots of chefs can’t master, because they do not understand the flavor, or viscosity of eggs. An overcooked, dried out egg is the worst sight ever, on a buffet line, or on a plate. To those who aspire to be a cook or chef, please do our world a favor, and learn how to cook your eggs right before anything else.”

Earth Earth/Shutterstock

Eggs Benedict—too many chefs fake it, can’t make it

Many chefs recommend you pass on this common brunch item—unless you’re dining in a restaurant renowned for the dish. “Most restaurants typically fall short when it comes to Eggs Benedict,” said Justin Cucci, Chef at Root Down Denver, a globally-influenced brunch spot, which is part of the Edible Beats Restaurant Group. “It’s easy for cooks to fake this dish, but to me a really good Eggs Benedict should be a perfect balance of poached eggs, buttery, lemony hollandaise sauce and a really yielding English muffin, with some salty, delicious ham. Most times what you’re getting is snotty looking—and tasting—poached eggs, with questionable ham, and room-temperature hollandaise sauce,” he says.

There are also safety concerns about this dish, according to Michelin-trained chef, Eddie Brik. “Stay away from hollandaise sauce, past two hours after the restaurant opens. High temperatures in the kitchen nurture bacteria growth. It’s okay for the first one-to-two hours after being made in the morning, but after that it’s no good, as there is no way to keep it fresh, and cooks do not make it to order,” he cautions. Here are seven more foods chefs never order at restaurants.

margouillat photo/Shutterstock

French toast—too doughy to be worth the dough

When done well, French toast is a brunch indulgence worth the cost to pocket book and waist line. When done poorly, you’re better off with just a cup of coffee. “French toast is one of the most inconsistent dishes in terms of flavor and quality. I’ve had some pretty bad ones, that were too thick and doughy, and others where the chef had clearly poured the syrup on, and then let it sit, and get soggy before serving,” says Alex Willen, proprietor of the San Francisco Brunch Club, a popular review site. Check out this list of foods you never knew chefs cooked in the microwave!

Alexey Tikhomirov/Shutterstock

Steak and eggs—it’s too hard on the jaws

Another no-go for Willen is steak and eggs, unless you’re brunching in a steak house. “At high end restaurants, steak and eggs are fine. At low end restaurants, you’re probably getting the cheapest, chewiest cut of beef they could find,” he explains. Try asking for a specific cut of meat, if steak and eggs is a dish you just can’t pass up. (Make sure you know these dirty restaurant secrets the kitchen crew will never tell you.)


Canadian bacon—you don’t know how long it’s been there

Chef Brik cautions against getting your salt fix from this brunch delicacy, unless you’re in a high-end restaurant. “How long has that Canadian bacon been sitting in the walk-in refrigerator? Brunch is only served once a week, on the weekends,” he explains. Your bacon may have been sitting there for six days, or more.


Anything with lots of ingredients—the pedigree’s suspicious

Casseroles, hodge-podge soups, and other non-distinctive dishes with tons of ingredients may have started out as something else, cautions Chef Brik. “Things like chili specials, and shepherds pie, are considered leftover meals at restaurants. If you are not eating at a high-end establishment, it’s highly likely you are eating ingredients that were left over from the entire week,” he explains. Instead of ordering foods like filet mignon or a tuna melt out at a restaurant, celebrity chefs choose to cook these 10 comfort meals at home.


The buffet—up close and personal with everyone’s germs

If you love eating a little of this, and a little of that, make sure to be the restaurant’s first brunch reservation of the day. Otherwise, you can’t really control whose fingers have gone where, what’s been dipped into, or sneezed upon. “I avoid brunch buffets like the plague, especially anything with hollandaise sauce. Open buffets provide too much exposure to the public, plus, are subject to temperatures in the danger zone—they’re a bacterial cross-contamination paradise,” says Jerry Trice, executive chef and owner of Gunther & Co., in Baltimore.


Pre-mixed smoothies—life is too short

Smoothies are a great when they’re mixed fresh and full of healthy nutrition-boosting ingredients. And then there’s the pre-mixed easy-for-chefs, lousy-for-you varieties. “Pre-mixed smoothies are usually full of sugar, and not at all healthy,” explains Paula and Gianfranco Sorrentino, co-owners of II Gattopardo Group.

Save the smoothies for organic, or natural restaurants, revered for their healthy treats, and pour a glass of water at other types of restaurants, instead. You can also pull out the blender, and make some great smoothie recipes for your at-home brunches. These are the 15 breakfast foods you really need to stop eating every day.


Pretend maple syrup—why would you do that to yourself?

Another brunch never-eat for the Sorrentinos is pancakes soaked in corn syrup. Once you’ve tasted really good quality maple syrup, there’s no confusing it with the cheaper substitutes so often used in bad brunch restaurants. Whether they’re an every-now-and-then indulgence, or a daily I’m-worth-it treat, great pancakes should be graced only with a light drizzle of really good, top-end maple syrup. Besides corn-syrup soaked pancakes, these are the 50 more foods nutritionist never eat.

Corey Whelan
Corey is a wellness and psychology writer based in New York City. Her work has been published by a wide variety of consumer sites, including Healthline, Verywell Health and Well + Good. Corey's groundbreaking in-person and online educational programs on family building have been covered by Newsweek, Time, Inc. and other outlets.