Chefs recall childhood dishes that inspired them

 Pepsi ricde

Everyone has a dish from their childhood that they fondly remember throughout their lives. Chefs are no exception to this; the difference with them is that sometimes these nostalgic foods inspire them to create items for their menus. Bon Appetit Magazine recently asked chefs to share their stories of foods from their past that have sparked something that they make today, and they received an overwhelming response

Chef Anita Lo of Annisa in New York City was inspired by butterscotch mints that lived on her mother’s desk in a hospital. They were the inspiration for the pecan beignets with salted butterscotch on the Annisa menu. Top Chef alumnus Stephanie Izard recalled one of her mother’s signature dishes, Mu shu pork. “My mom used to have her friend Mrs. Cole over once a month and they would drink wine and make Mandarin pancakes for each of our families. It was an all day process,” she said. After her mother died, Izard renewed her interest in Chinese cooking, which she highlights at her Chicago restaurant Duck Duck Goat. The menu there features a version of her mother’s dish.

Another Top Chef alum, Dale Talde, was inspired by breakfast cereal. When he created his Halo Halo dish, he didn’t want to use the usual puffed rice topping. Instead, for crunch he uses his childhood favorite cereal, Cap’n Crunch. He also uses his grandmother’s take on rice to make the Pepsi rice pictured above. 

Home cooks might not have a restaurant menu on which to display our food memories, but I’ll bet each of us brings something to the table inspired by food from our childhood. 

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