- Larry Hoffman/Flickr
- For some chefs, their go-to comfort food is a meal they frequently ate as a kid, like corned beef and cabbage or spaghetti Bolognese.
- Some chefs said their ideal comfort food is a classic dish from the place where they grew up.
- From simple chicken broth to regionally specific dishes, soup was a popular comfort-food choice for chefs.
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Food is powerful – it can revive old memories, make us feel sentimental, and even connect us to other people. No one knows this better than chefs and they have certain dishes that bring them comfort, just like the rest of us.
INSIDER spoke to several chefs about their absolute favorite comfort food. Here’s what they had to say.
Chef Zilong Zhao of MáLà Project said they love a fish fillet with pickled greens
“This dish is available in almost every Sichuan-style restaurant inside China and I grew up eating it,” Zhao said. “The dish features a hot and sour broth with super tender fish slices and it’s super comforting to eat with white rice.”
Darren Pettigrew, executive chef at Valerie said he likes something that hearkens back to his Irish roots
“My favorite comfort food is a traditional Irish dish called Dublin coddle,” he told INSIDER. “It is simple, working-class comfort food and my dad made it every week [growing] up.”
“The dish consists of a beef or chicken stock simmered with potatoes, bacon, onion, and pork sausage. [It is] served with homemade Irish brown bread,” he explained.
Executive Chef Mitch Brumels of Ocean Prime Boston said he also craves an Irish classic
“My favorite comfort food would be boiled corned beef and cabbage. Growing up in Michigan, both my mother and grandmother would make it on snowy evenings,” Brumels said.
“The smell of the combination of the spices, beef, cabbage, carrots, and potatoes would fill the house. Both my mother and grandmother would always make too much on purpose so we would have leftovers for days,” he added.
Tom McKenna, executive chef at Public Kitchen, said roasted chicken is his go-to comfort food
“I love a great roasted chicken with lemon and roasted potatoes,” said McKenna. “It’s familiar, easy, and, when done well, extremely delicious.”
Chef Yuchun Cheung of Little Alley said braised carp is his go-to comfort food
“It’s what my mom used to cook almost every day and the fish is very local to Shanghai,” Cheung told INSIDER. “The fish is braised in a savory master sauce to get a moist and melt-in-the-mouth texture with a tangy, savory, and rich flavor.”
When seeking comfort, Thomas Romero, chef at ACME, said he typically craves a ‘good steaming bowl of soba noodles’
“Soba is made from buckwheat and has a distinctive gelatinous texture and heady, almost nutty, aroma,” Romero said. “Doused with a good clear dashi [and] paired with mushrooms and a soft poached egg, it makes for a deeply satisfying meal with a variety of textures and flavors.”
Executive Chef Philippe Chow of Philippe Chow said his go-to comfort food is pulled noodles
“My favorite comfort food has to be pulled noodles,” Chow told INSIDER. “They are easy to make, don’t require a lot of ingredients, and [can be topped] with virtually any sauce your heart desires.”
Rachael Polhill, chef at Dante, said she often craves spaghetti bolognese, a classic from her childhood
“It is one of the first dishes my mom taught me to make when I was 10 years old. I have since learned to make it differently, but the memory still makes it a go-to for comfort,” she said.
Chef Baiguang Han of Tang Hotpot said he springs for Sichuan-style fried rice
“This version of fried rice features Chinese bacon, Sichuan Yacai, eggs, dried chili, and scallions,” Han said. “I grew up eating this on a daily basis. What’s special about this fried rice is the yacai, a pickled local vegetable, that adds crunchiness and acidity to balance with the rich Chinese bacon and eggs.”
Chef Kevin Adey of Faro said he opts for a simple bowl of chicken broth
“It’s satisfying to make and has the added benefit of warming up the entire apartment when you make it. It warms your soul,” Adey said. “I just add some simple pasta or rice and carrots.”
He said it also freezes well, so you can always save some just in case you get sick.
Chef Peter Yi of Brooklyn Cider House said he can’t get enough kimchi-jjigae, a type of kimchi stew
“Pickled kimchi and pork butt is super savory, spicy, sour, and rich,” he said, adding that if he had to choose one dish to eat for three days straight it’d be this one.
Chef Aishling Stevens of Restaurant Latour said she loves soup of all kinds.
- Shutterstock/H.C Huang
“Soup all day, every day. I am in love with hot, brothy items whether it be miso soup, organic chicken soup, French onion, or just a hot cup of beef broth,” Stevens said. “Any time of the day, in any weather, hot broth is what I crave the most.”
‘Chopped’ judge Maneet Chauhan said daal chawal reminds her of her childhood in India
This celebrity chef said her comfort food of choice is daal chawal, a yellow lentil soup featuring turmeric, ginger, and ghee, served over basmati rice. “This is my chicken soup for the soul,” she said. “Not only is it delicious – it’s pretty healthy too.”
Chef Kaiyuan Li of Atlas Kitchen said well-cooked potherb mustard is his go-to comfort food
“Potherb mustard is a specialty vegetable of Hunan,” Li said. “It tastes very refreshing, whether it is [used] to balance the spicy taste of other dishes in Hunan cuisine or enjoyed alone as a summer appetizer.”
Joseph Conti, executive chef at and owner of Shuraku, said Japanese fried chicken is his favorite comfort food
“I have an unhealthy obsession with Karaage (Japanese fried chicken),” Conti told INSIDER. “When Karaage is done right it is so delicate and light, just a little salty with hints of ginger and soy.”