13 Professional Chefs Reveal Their Least Favorite Food
Day in and day out, these professional chefs are surrounded by food, think about food, and make food. That doesn't mean, however, they like all food. Here, chefs and cookbook authors share the ingredients and foods they just won't eat.
Truffle oil was the darling of chefs and high-end restaurants two decades ago, who often charged a premium to customers for dishes with the treasured ingredient. However, it slowly faded out of the spotlight, and some chefs refuse to cook with it today. “I absolutely hate truffle oil,” says Zac Cates, executive chef at Sonder in Bakersfield, California. “I never understood it, and it’s hype. It’s not even made from truffles.” He adds, “Adding truffle oil to a dish is like squirting ketchup on wagyu beef.” These are the 10 dishes chefs never order at brunch.
Chef Brandon Carter from FARM in Bluffton, South Carolina will try just about anything. But don’t try to get him to order boiled eggs in any form or fashion. For a Southern chef, that’s a serious risk, as deviled eggs are a side at many meals, but boiled eggs are “a big NO” for this chef due to the “farty smell” that hits him before he can take a bite. Professional chefs would never order these 17 foods, either.
Coconut milk is added to many soups, curries, and stews for light creaminess and a delicate sweetness for savory dishes. But you won’t find this ingredient in Edward McFarland’s dishes. McFarland is the chef/owner of New York City-based seafood restaurant, Ed’s Lobster Bar.
“I dislike coconut milk, specifically in savory dishes and especially when combined with curry or used in rice,” he says. “I do not like the overwhelming flavor or sweetness that it gives to the dish. For me personally, it is just too overpowering.” Chefs shop at Costco, too, and here’s what they buy.
It’s a darling of the culinary community, a stand-apart ingredient that many love to boast, but for some chefs, it’s not going near their plate. “I find the overall texture of it to be extremely unpleasant. I like to eat food with texture, especially those with a crunchy component, and sea urchin absolutely does not provide that,” says Danielle Marelli, pastry chef at Travelle at The Langham in Chicago. “It’s slimy and kind of gooey. If I were to pluck something straight from the sea, this is what I imagine it to taste like!” Fish-eaters also need to know these facts about seafood before cooking or eating anything from the ocean.
Chocolate ice cream
“There isn’t much I won’t eat and not much I don’t enjoy eating, except for one thing—chocolate ice cream,” says Yankel Polak, head chef at ButcherBox. “Chocolate ice cream is just plain garbage. Even calling it chocolate is a blatant lie. It’s just brown awful tasting frozen cream.”
He continues: “We used to get the Neapolitan ice cream in a box when I was a kid. Strawberry was my favorite, vanilla was acceptable once I’d finished the strawberry, and then I’d throw it away once there was only chocolate left. I have this wonderful anticipation that I’m out to get a decadent mouthful of chocolate and then bam! Garbage.” The best ice cream shops in each state offer way more flavors than just chocolate.
“Bell peppers have an overpowering taste that covers up the subtleties of other ingredients,” says Elana Horwich, author of Meal and a Spiel. “American cooks tend to add them as ‘cheap flavor’ to everything from eggs, sandwiches, pizzas, stir-fries, roasted veggies, and tacos.”
However, in Italy, where Horwich learned to cook, “they respect the powerful flavor of bell peppers, and use them only as the highlight of a dish like Pollo ai Peperoni (chicken with peppers), or serve them grilled and marinated as an antipasto.” Peppers are one of the main ingredients in the meals chefs always order at Italian restaurants.
Some chefs like one version of a particular food (fresh tomatoes, for example). But they detest another version of that food (ketchup). That situation is true for Chef Robert Gomez, lead chef at Fresh n’ Lean. He says he has “love-hate” relationships with oats.
“I love oats in things like granola and oatmeal cookies but I hate hot oatmeal,” Gomez says. “For me, it’s more of a texture thing. It’s just too mushy and slimy in a sense. I’ve tried it many different ways, from extra sugar to an array of fruits and flavors, but underneath it all, it’s still the texture that gets to me.” Find out the 10 things even professional chefs cook in the microwave.
“The one food that I do not like is eggplant. And it’s not because I don’t like it, it’s primarily because it is never prepared properly,” says Jeremy Abbey, director of culinary programs, American Culinary Federation, and chef/owner of Detroit Underground Omakase.
“Nothing is more delicious than a properly prepared baba ganoush in the Israeli style; nice roasted flavor, not metallic tasting, light and creamy. But the odds of me being able to find that from a restaurant are slim to none. Chefs tend to overlook the delicate nature and uniqueness of vegetables. Eggplant is just as delicate as cooking octopus or squid and should receive the time and attention it deserves.”
Ranch dressing has vigorous fans, who aren’t afraid to put it on everything from pizza and salads to oatmeal and steak. It’s a salad dressing turned condiment turned all-purpose sauce, but some chefs aren’t having it. “Mankind discovered the world in pursuit of spices,” says Stuart Reb Donald, a chef, author, and co-host of “Sip & Chew with Mike and Stu” in Mobile, Alabama. “And now all people eat is ranch. It’s mayonnaise and buttermilk, folks.
You may think of onions as the backbone of many dishes—and it is—but that doesn’t mean every cook likes or even wants to eat them. Johnny Ulloa, executive chef at Manhattan rooftop bar, The Sky Room, sure doesn’t.
While he cooks with them in his restaurant, the soft texture is off-putting. He even likes the taste that it gives to food, but he can’t overcome the slimy texture of cooked onions. Learn the 10 genius cooking tricks that are only taught in culinary school.
Keto dieters may shed a tear to hear someone dislikes their beloved cauliflower, but Jennifer Booker, celebrity chef and cookbook author, just won’t eat it.
“I do not like cauliflower,” she says. “It’s supposed to be a vegetable, and vegetables are supposed to have big, bold, beautiful colors. Cauliflower does not. It actually looks like it’s been drained of color, which turns my appetite off completely. But I have tried it and it tastes like it looks—drained of any flavor.”
Natto is fermented Japanese soybeans. Many eat it as a breakfast food, but it can be used in salads and sides, too. However, they’d have to get past the smell and taste. “I just can’t do natto,” says Chef Brian Howard at Sparrow+Wolf in Las Vegas. “For someone who loves everything fermented and a lover of all foods, the snot-like texture is off-putting for me. I just can’t do it.” Soy-based goods are foods that everyone either hates or loves.
Sweetened desiccated coconut
“Yuck, yuck, yuck. It’s so sad to me that this amazing, beautiful, and delicious drupe is degraded to a cloying and strangely textured attempt at food,” says Jennifer Scism, chef and co-founder of Good To-Go. “Growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, it seemed that every Tom, Dick, and Harry making cookies or sweets added this God-awful concoction to their confections. To this day I can taste it in an instant. One bite and that cookie is in the trash. Don’t get me wrong—I’ve tried, I’ve made German Chocolate Cake that I can, kind of, choke down. But why, when coconut can be shredded and dried to perfection, is it ruined with the addition of sugar?” Next, read on as 10 professional chefs reveal their favorite comfort food.