Guilty pleasures: What do chefs really tuck into when they fancy a treat?
From high-street kebabs to fried chicken, tubes of condensed milk to packets of Haribo, the answers might suprise you, as Gillian Orr discovers
Thursday 24 February 2011
Marcus Wareing, chef
Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley
I'd say my guiltiest pleasure is making a full English breakfast. But it's not a pretty one: it's one of those breakfasts in which everything is fried in oil so it's completely unhealthy. Bread, sausage, bacon, tomatoes and onion are all fried and then baked beans and fruity HP sauce go on the side. Of course, it wouldn't be complete without a pot of tea. I won't have it very often, just the occasional Sunday brunch. If you wanted you could make it healthier by choosing to grill things instead but I love it all fried.
Jason Atherton, chef
Pollen Street Social
There's nothing better than Nando's. I love spicy food so my ultimate guilty pleasure is a grilled chicken pitta (extra hot) with cheese and a helping of peri peri chips. The best way to get flavour out of chicken is to grill it, so combined with the spiciness of the peri peri it's the best guilty pleasure.
Pierre Koffmann, chef
Koffmann's at The Berkeley
Haribo sweets and ice cream
I'm Catholic so I go to church every week to ensure I don't have any guilt, but I suppose we can try to find one. I've got three children and I like to pinch sweets from them; that's probably as bad as it gets. They always have those gummy sweets, things such as Haribo. I also like to have a bit of ice cream straight out of the tub sometimes. Probably vanilla or rum and raisin, maybe with a little bit of limoncello over the top.
Richard Corrigan, chef patron
Beans on toast
I honestly don't really eat bad food or fast food and I don't have a particularly sweet tooth; I tend to eat really well... at least I'm trying really hard to not be such an indulgent individual. But I have been known to enjoy beans on toast. It doesn't happen too often but on the rare occasion, it can be a simple joy.
Tom Aikens, restaurateur and chef
I love a chocolate mousse, but it's one I make myself so I suppose it's not too lazy. It only takes me about 15 minutes to make, though. Just use egg yolk, sugar and cream to make a sort of custard. Melt some chocolate and add it to the custard and set with gelatine. I like to fold an Italian meringue into it, made from egg white and boiled sugar. Then you just add whipped cream. It's very decadent but so simple to make, and I love it more than more elaborate chocolate desserts.
Gizzi Erskine, food writer, chef and television presenter
Southern fried chicken
I'm a complete sucker for really, really bad Southern fried chicken, but my morals as a cook don't allow me to eat it. I never eat chicken unless it's at least free range, so I battle every time I walk past one of those nondescript fried chicken places. Now I make it myself, which is a bit more virtuous, I suppose. I don't have a problem with it being fried though, it's just the hideous methods of breeding the chickens. Even in my drunkest moments I don't allow myself to enter those places, but it can be torture.
Bruno Loubet, chef
Bistrot Bruno Loubet
Peanut M&Ms and Chamonix cakes
Sometimes I like to get a big bag of peanut M&Ms and eat the whole packet, just like that. I'm a big fan of chocolate with peanuts, somehow it makes me feel better. There are these little French cakes called Chamonix which have a sort of orange marmalade in the middle which I also like; they were a treat for us when I was a child. We've bought them from a French website before and sometimes I'll treat myself to a whole packet. I have to go a long way for that guilty pleasure, though.
Mark Hix, chef, restaurateur and food writer for The Independent Magazine
Crumpets, Snickers and Lucozade
I always keep crumpets in the deep freeze and I'll have them as a snack. They're especially good with butter, cheese and Marmite. I'm not a big chocolate fan, but I'll occasionally grab a Snickers bar when I'm driving. If I have a hangover then a little Lucozade goes a long way.
Trish Deseine, food writer and cook
Guilt is not something I associate with food. I really do eat what I want, when I want it. I tend to feel more guilty about how easily I resort to the convenience of pizza delivery for my children when I'm going out. Also – I confess – I did join them in a massive, and completely delicious, McDonald's takeaway a few weeks ago, but only as we were on the eve of a photo-shoot and my kitchen was prepped to the hilt for the next day. They couldn't believe their luck.
Thomasina Miers, cook, food writer and founder of Wahaca
Kebabs and chocolate
I absolutely love kebabs but I don'treally think of them as junk food. I go to a Lebanese place near me and I like to have them with the full works: garlic sauce, chilli sauce, pickles. I'll happily have the grilled pieces on the stick or have the one off the spit. I don't have them as often as I used to, but sometimes if I come home late, the cupboards are empty and I'm stuck for something to eat then it's my to-go dinner. Also, when I'm tired I eat so much chocolate it's not true. I tend to prefer dark chocolate but sometimes a Cadbury's Boost just hits the spot.
Henry Dimbleby, founder of Leon restaurants
Leon does the finest salted caramel Banana Split which makes me extremely nostalgic for my childhood. It's the kind of outrageous treat that could cheer you up after the worst day at school – a pudding the size of your head. The dish is a fantasia of indulgent ingredients: a split banana holding three scoops of ice cream, drizzled with Artisan du Chocolat salted caramel sauce, squirted liberally with whipped cream, and topped with candied almonds, chocolate flakes and a cocktail umbrella. It's definitely my guilty pleasure.
Stevie Parle, chef and food writer
I am basically a pretty guilt-free person and I don't generally regret what I do or eat. I'm not a big one for foie gras or any other potentially ethically unsound meat, not so much because of the ethics, more because foie gras is too rich and a battery chicken tastes disgusting. What I do love is bone marrow, delicious, rich, gloopy, fatty, greasy bone marrow, on toast, on a steak, on a piece of fish, in a risotto, for breakfast lunch or dinner. I don't feel guilty about it, but I may die young and fat.
Claude Bosi, chef
Hibiscus and The Fox and Grapes
Mars bars and Haribo
I'm generally quite boring with the food I eat and I don't really have a huge sweet tooth except that I love Mars bars and I have one as soon as I can in the afternoon. I also love those sharp, tangy Haribo sweets, Tangfastics. It's a bit of a secret that you can always find them in my car.
Antonio Carluccio, chef and founder Carluccio's
Condensed milk and polenta cake
A tube of condensed milk reminds me of my childhood. It's very sweet and smooth and tastes so delicious, I like to suck it straight out of the tube. I don't go walking around sucking on a tube all the time but I have one every now and then. If I feel a bit peckish and a bit down then I like to have a little polenta cake, which reminds me of my heritage and my family.
Skye Gyngell, chef
I don't necessarily eat as healthily as I should, not in terms of what I put in my mouth, but the regularity of how I eat. In the morning I live on coffee, just the thought of it gets me out of bed. Sometimes I forget to eat during the day; I think being surrounded by food can take away your appetite. Once the day has ended I tend to realise that I am starving and often crave sugar. The most guilty pleasure I have is toast, often quite a lot of it. Rye bread is my favourite with lashings of unsalted butter and marmalade or sometimes Vegemite. I never eat junk food – my saving grace is that I have children at home to feed and so I cook a proper meal in the evenings.
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