Chefs typically aren’t food snobs. They tend not to food shame. And they never call themselves “foodies.” (They leave that to civilians.)
Public perceptions to the contrary, chefs (especially fine dining chefs) don’t eat as elaborately away from their restaurants as they cook in their restaurants.
Like most of the rest of us, chefs sometimes eat less healthfully than they should — whether out of fatigue after a punishing shift or out of convenience while on the go or, simply, out of fondness for a food they enjoyed long before they cooked professionally.
With that in mind, RENO Magazine asked a group of local chefs about their (occasional) eating habits away from the line: their snack food secrets, their guilty pleasures from the drive-through, the comfort foods they fork into (sometimes sheepishly).
Or, put another way, artisan this, heirloom that — now which way is Taco Bell?
Nicholle Alumbaugh, Homage Bakery. McDonald’s Spicy Chicken with Tomato.
“Name a place, and I can tell you what I’m a glutton for — McDonald’s Spicy Chicken with Tomato. Honestly, when you spend hours a day working . . . as a cook/chef, you’re allowed to have a meal of whatever you’d like.”
Khoun Chantalasin, Eldorado Resorts Inc. Awful Awful Burger from the Little Nugget Diner.
“The amount of food they give you and the tastiness appeal to me. I don’t think people recognize me without my uniform, so I go in, sit there quietly and watch how other people eat while I’m consuming it myself.”
Christian Christensen, Süp Restaurant. Jack in the Box Sourdough Jack.
“Buttery grilled sourdough, burger patty, ketchup, mayo, bacon . . . mmm. Usually, it comes down to me rushing somewhere and not planning ahead and that damn sign calls to me. The drive-through shame weighs heavy on my mind as I roll down my rear window in an effort to hide my Süp logo.”
Ben Deinken, Tournant Pop-Up Restaurant and West Shore Café. Stouffer’s Creamed Chipped Beef.
“My secret indulgence is chipped beef and gravy on toast. I always buy the Stouffer’s frozen chipped beef at the store, but I make sure that no one sees me buy it. I always worry I’ll run into someone I know, another chef, and they’ll see me buying frozen food.”
Whitney Deri, Blend Catering. Kettle Brand Potato Chips.
“My favorite junk food is Kettle chips. I love how crunchy and salty they are! I must always have them in the house. It is the one bad food habit I can never quit.”
Krysta Bea Jackson, Sugar Love Chocolates. David Sunflower Seeds.
“I have to work hard to not chow down a large bag of these in one sitting. And they make such a mess! But I love the salt. These are definitely a guilty secret done in the privacy of my own home and never when a potential romantic partner is around.”
Erika Pinto, Liberty Food & Wine Exchange. Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cereal.
“I am a confirmed sweets lover and prefer to eat dessert before dinner. I have had an affinity for these sweet little squares since I was young, and nothing has changed as I have aged. It seriously satisfies on all levels. I especially love the bowl of cinnamon sugar milk at the end.”
Jessica Shapiro, The Cheese Board American Bistro. SpaghettiOs sautéed with hot dogs.
“I am so guilty of being a junk food junkie. My no-shame SpaghettiOs sautéed with hot dogs ... holds a sort of sentimental value because it reminds me of home. I’m still holding out for those weird pregnancy cravings that I’ve been hearing so much about.”
Colin Smith, Roundabout Grill and Roundabout Catering & Party Rentals. Sour candies.
“OK, I have a few junk food obsessions for sure, but I am really addicted to sour hard candies. Anything that is sour is a trigger for sure. I love sour Jolly Ranchers and SweeTARTS and Sour Patch Kids.”