How chefs deal with ingredients they won’t eat

We all have a few foods that we just do not care to eat, and chefs are no exception. Unlike the rest of us, however, they often have no choice but to use ingredients they find distasteful. Some chefs find alternatives to the despised items, while others search for ways to make the off-putting flavors more palatable. Elisa Ludwig of the Philadelphia Inquirer asked several chefs how they cope with ingredients they do not like, and the answers are enlightening


I was surprised by some of the foods that the interviewed chefs disliked. Mark Tropea of Philly restaurant Stir hates raw tomatoes. “I’ll be honest. Even the ripest, most unusual heirloom doesn’t do it for me,” he says. He finds ways to work them, however, along with anchovies, another ingredient he finds distasteful. He uses anchovies in salad dressings, tapenade, or bagna cauda, where its flavor can be subdued with a heavy dose of garlic. 

Co-op chef Paul Silva similar find anchovies off-putting and he’s no fan of  blue cheese, either. He’s learned to tame the cheese’s strong flavor by adding items like creme fraiche and fresh herbs to the dip his restaurant serves along side wings. “Sweetness helps, too. We put honey and corn syrup in the [chicken] wings, so that kind of cuts down on the pungency,” he says.

Eric Hall of La Scala has two foods that are a no-go personally, goat cheese and olives. However, he doesn’t let that stop him from using the ingredients in his restaurant. “I realize most people like goat cheese, so I don’t discriminate against it on our menus due to my own tastes,” he says. “And since I know its flavor profile, I understand what will balance it.” 

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  • annmartina  on  January 17, 2019

    I don't feel so out-of-place now for my dislike of raw tomatoes. I think it's the skin that gets me. The the mealy texture of bad ones.

  • hillsboroks  on  January 18, 2019

    My husband and I love tomatoes and have always grown multiple varieties in our garden. But somehow we ended up with two children, now adults, who hate tomatoes. Where did we go wrong? Until our kids and a couple of their friends who also hate tomatoes came along I had never heard of anyone hating tomatoes.

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