From pasta to sandwiches, chefs tend to favour simple food at home with their families, by Richard Vines.
The world’s greatest chefs are just like us: They don’t like to take their work home with them.
When it comes to home cooking, it turns out that the culinary stars behind dishes such as blackberry risotto with game-meat sauce, licorice-braised sweetbreads, and chocolate hay would prefer something quick and easy, or else have someone else do the cooking.
“People have to understand: Fernando Alonso or Lewis Hamilton drive an F1 car, but you can’t drive the same when you’re on the road,” said Ferran Adria, the chef who was behind the pioneering El Bulli in Spain.
And don’t expect food to come out perfectly arranged.
“At home, I never plate anything,” said Jean-Georges Vongerichten, whose dishes at Jean-Georges in Manhattan often come highly decorated.
We asked chefs to share what they like to eat at home.
Why bother with a proper meal?
Michel Roux Jr. (Le Gavroche, London): “I’m addicted to cheese, preferably a 24-month Comté made from the spring pastures, with home-made bread.”
José Andrés (Minibar, Washington DC): “A glass of gazpacho in summer and a plate of lentil stew with chorizo in winter.”
Eric Ripert (Le Bernardin, New York): “I usually just snack at home and might only cook on Sundays because I’m at Le Bernardin the rest of the week. In the morning, I have two cookies with my coffee (decaf) and a yogurt. I always have some dark chocolate, spicy chorizo and goat-cheese Camembert in the fridge.”
Daniel Boulud (Daniel, New York): “I like to make ‘submarine eggs’ - eggs in a hole inside a nice, buttery brioche - with my wife Katherine on Sunday mornings. Katherine’s mother always made them when she was a kid and it’s a tradition that we continue with our son.”
Tom Kerridge (Hand & Flowers, Marlow, England): “A flavour-packed omelette, full of things like olives, chorizo, anchovies and lots of cheese. It’s high-protein, hugely tasty and quick and easy to make.”
Jason Atherton (Pollen Street Social, London): “A simple bacon sandwich. It is a treat these days with HP Sauce, good butter and amazing sourdough.”
Other people’s cooking
Karam Sethi (Gymkhana, London): “My wife Tanya’s Lucknowi food: kakori kebabs, galouti kebabs, qormas and biryanis. It’s the heartiest and most satisfying food in the world.”
Pierre Koffmann (Koffmann’s, London): “Soup made by my wife, Claire. She is a very good cook. Any soup will do.”
Anne-Sophie Pic (Maison Pic, Valence, France): “Sunday chicken made by my mother. It is cooked very slowly in the oven with tarragon. It is my ‘Madeleine de Proust,’ our family tradition that has been around for many years.”
Atul Kochhar (Benares, London): “Every Punjabi boy loves his mum’s rajma, a red-kidney-bean stew, and I’m no exception. My mother is 80 now, and, though she’s pleased to have a son who’s a chef, she claims her version is still much better than mine.”
Chefs will always eat chicken and pasta
Fergus Henderson (St. John, London): “The dish I cook at home with amazing regularity is tomato pasta. It never fails, never disappoints, and it is impossible to grow tired of its soothing powers. Slurp, slurp, aahhh. My kids and I are mostly made up of tomato pasta. It’s amazing that they grew fingers and not tomato-spaghetti hands.”
Jean-Georges Vongerichten (Jean-Georges, New York): “I love one-pot meals. That is the way I grew up in Alsace, things like a simple chicken or a stew.”
Clare Smyth (Gordon Ramsay, London): “Roast chicken or spaghetti bolognese. These are my two comfort go-to dishes at home. It is a nostalgia thing for me.”
Daniel Humm (Eleven Madison Park, New York): “I find myself turning to pasta, whether it’s spaghetti carbonara, tagliatelle with lemon and Parmesan, or simply tomato sauce.”
Pierre Gagnaire (Pierre Gagnaire, Paris): “Maybe a classic roasted chicken with vegetables au gratin or a risotto. During summer, it could be a nice tomato salad. Some whole fish cooked en papillote.”
Keep It Simple
Andoni Luis Aduriz (Mugaritz, Gipuzkoa, Spain): “I do love to cook vegetables. In addition, I have a six-year-old son who I try to educate for each of the products we have in each of the seasons: vegetables, fish and meat.”
Mauro Colagreco (Mirazur, Menton, France): “I like to pick fresh vegetables from my garden and cook them in a simple way to make the most out of them: an excellent extra-virgin olive oil, and a slice of a good bread, to go with them.”
Enrique Olvera (Pujol, Mexico City): “After all the travelling, what I like the most about getting back home is to eat food that is simple and comforting, like soups and stews, accompanied, of course, by freshly made tortillas.”
Ferran Adria (ex-El Bulli, Roses, Spain): “I cook the same as everyone else: vegetables, fish, the usual.”
That’s More Like It
Yoshihiro Narisawa (Narisawa, Tokyo): “Put abundant grated daikon and spinach in ichiban dashi and boil it. Make shabu shabu (Japanese hotpot dish) with thinly sliced pork loin. Add seasonal mushrooms and vegetables (whatever I like) and serve with several sauces: sesame, soy with red peeper, with yuzu, etc.”
Elena Arzak (Arzak, San Sebastian, Spain: “A perennial favourite is squid with a slow-cooked onion marmalade, which is a traditional summer dish in San Sebastian.”
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