Mom's Cooking: 11 Chefs Share Childhood Favorites
May 06, 2014 | by Mallory Evans | Food & Drink News
They may be hot shots in their own restaurant kitchens, but when these 11 chefs go home to mom, they leave the cooking to her.
Todd Erickson is the chef behind Huahua's Taqueria, but his favorite dish from childhood is lasagna. (photo: Gary James)
Roasted rosemary chicken. “Every Sunday my mom would make roasted rosemary chicken, a traditional dish in the area of western Germany where I grew up. This recipe has definitely inspired the menu at Area 31, which features rich flavor profiles and textures reflecting comfort, love, and a simple respect for local ingredients.”—Wolfgang Birk, executive chef, Area 31
Arepas. “My mother would make her authentic Venezuelan arepas in the morning with perico [scrambled eggs with vegetables] and with queso blanco and crema for lunch. I’ve continued the tradition by bringing my mother's recipes to Wynwood Kitchen + Bar and often share them with my team when I’m in the mood for a real family meal.”—Miguel Aguilar, executive chef, Wynwood Kitchen + Bar
Oxtail stew. “I love the smell of my mother’s oxtail stew. Whether it’s Mother’s Day or any comforting Sunday, this slow-cooked, spice-filled dish just warms my heart. In fact, I love it so much that it’s now offered on our Sunday brunch menu as part of the steak ‘n’ eggs Benedict."—Timon Balloo, executive chef and partner, Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill
Lasagna. “My mom’s recipes weren’t complicated, but always utilized fresh and delicious ingredients. Her stand out dish for me growing up was—and still is—lasagna. The sauce is an all-day affair, starting with sautéed garlic, onions and fennel, then sweet Italian sausage and stewed tomatoes. After simmering for a few hours, she layers pasta, seasoned ricotta, mozzarella, and parmesan and bakes it until bubbly, brown, and delicious. I’m happy that I get to share this dish, as I love it dearly, just like I love my mom.”—Todd Erickson, executive chef, Haven South Beach and Huahua’s Taqueria
Carne adobada. “As a kid I would wake up early on weekends to cook my mom’s favorite dish, carne adobada. It’s a New Mexican-style breakfast of traditional pork and red chili stew with potatoes, fried eggs and a side of casserole. And I would never forget the fresh flour tortillas à la minute!”—Jacob Anaya, executive chef, OTC
Sunday lasagna. “I still recall all the prep that went into my mom’s Sunday lasagna. She would start on Saturday afternoon with the gravy and homemade pasta. On Sunday morning she would be in the kitchen putting everything together, adding mini meatballs—which my brothers and I would steal—and fresh ricotta. The scent of lasagna baking was just magical."—Luciano Sautto, chef de cuisine, Bianca at Delano
Chili. “My mother made the best chili and served it with cheddar cheese and warm pita bread. You could really feel the love that went into it! Made with ground beef, lots of tomato, and a unique spice mix—chili powder, paprika, cumin, cayenne, onion powder, and garlic powder—it was truly my favorite meal of the week."—Christopher Lee, executive chef, The Forge
Soup and sandwiches. “I still adore my mom's soups and sandwiches! I remember summers spent as a kid in Vancouver, playing outside with friends in our big backyard. My mom would pull fresh herbs, lettuces, and tomatoes from our garden and put together some of the best sandwiches you could ever taste. All the kids in the neighborhood would come over for her delicious lunches.”—Luke Verkuylen, executive chef, Earls Kitchen + Bar
Crock Pot spaghetti and meatballs. “My mom used to make amazing crock pot spaghetti and meat balls. The sauce would be simmering in the crock pot all day and then we would sit and feast on those cold Colorado nights. My mouth waters at the thought of her perfectly toasted garlic bread!”—Sean Brasel, executive chef, Meat Market
Chile sauce. "I grew up near Memphis, and my dad grew a fantastic vegetable garden every summer; his specialties were tomatoes and peppers. My mother had a delicious recipe for chile sauce, which we used on everything from scrambled eggs to steak over the course of the year until we could start using the fresh tomatoes my dad grew the next year."—Billy Boyle, executive chef, Florida Cookery
Chicken empanadas. “My mother was my first mentor without realizing it. She introduced me to the love of the kitchen. I have fond memories of cooking at home, starting in the garden where Mom grew an array of fresh herbs to our patio’s bread oven—the aroma of freshly baked loaves always filled our house. My mom cooked everything from scratch. I can still taste her chicken empanadas, prepared in the clay oven with roasted vegetables.”—Horacio Rivadero, executive chef, The District Miami
Cover shoot: Behind the scenes with Pitbull for the October 2014 issue of Ocean Drive magazine.