Junk Food

It’s easy to imagine Chicago’s finest chefs slaving away over a hot stove with truffle oil in hand and foie gras at the ready. But when they get off work, many are just like the rest of us, which is to say: They eat junk. We asked seven culinary stars where their lowbrow desires lay—and instantly felt better about ourselves

Photo: Michael Boone Photography, Styling: Megan Lovejoy and Jennifer Moore

Stephanie Izard
(Bravo’s Top Chef winner)
“Laughing Cow cheese. I eat that stuff all the time and it’s just the best. On Baked Lays or on crackers, and I’ll eat the whole round. You don’t even have to refrigerate it, which is disturbing. It’s in the cheese section, but it’s not in the cooler—it’s just, like, in a basket next to the cheese.”

Bruce Sherman
(North Pond, 2610 N. Cannon Dr.; 773-477-5845)
“I do animal crackers. But [my kids] don’t get those. They’re just for me. I get the bulk bag, and I will eat those alternately with pellets of 70 percent chocolate, single-origin chocolate. Stuff I get from the restaurant. They’re what we call pistoles. I just go one-for-one or one-for-two while I’m sitting on the couch watching Sportscenter.”

Mindy Segal
(HotChocolate, 1747 N. Damen Ave.; 773-489-1747)
“I eat the pretzel Combos with the Cheddar. Years ago, they used to make one that was a pretzel with mustard filling, and I loved that one. [And] I eat Cheetos. The Spicy is really spicy and it burns the back of your mouth, so if I cut it with a little bit of the regular Cheetos, I love it.”

Graham Elliot Bowles
(Graham Elliot, 217 W. Huron St.; 312-624-9975)
“I always have a box of Cheez-Its. You can put ’em in the oven and get them nice and toasty. And ramen noodles. Sometimes I’ll open the bag, pour in the spice thing, and eat that like a dry snack. Or I boil my noodles, then I pour off 50 percent of the liquid, and doctor it up with cooked egg and scallions.”

Ryan McCaskey
(Shikago, 190 S. LaSalle St.; 312-781-7300)
“I used to eat Doritos with Cheez Whiz melted over the top. I used to make fried-baloney and Cheez Whiz sandwiches. I’d put Cheez Whiz on toast. Yeah, Cheez Whiz was kind of a big thing for me, I guess. If I were ever on Top Chef, I would kick ass at the ‘cook from the convenience store’ challenge.”

David Richards
(Sweets & Savories, 1534 W. Fullerton Ave.; 773-281-6778)
“Almost every night before bed, I have a bowl of ice cream. There’s anywhere between six and ten different flavors in my freezer. My favorite [right now] is Ben & Jerry’s Neapolitan Dynamite. It’s Cherry Garcia ice cream with brownies in it. Unfortunately, most people who make ice cream use inexpensive chocolate, so it’s like eating a ball of wax.”

Paul Virant
(Vie, 4471 Lawn Ave., Western Springs; 708-246-2082)
“I’m a fan of Steak n Shake and White Castle. I remember having a contest with my cousin. He ate close to 30 [sliders]. Once in a while, throwing down a Big Mac from Mickey D’s is nice. I’m a big advocate of local food, so it’s like, ‘Wow, are you kidding me?’ But they’re based in Oak Brook, so it’s almost local.”

 

 

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