One chef said she steers clear of any chili specials, since you never know what’s ground up in the comfort food / 3dan3 /iStock

‘It takes one single bad mussels to make you see stars – and not in a good way’

From brains to cashew nuts, chefs have revealed the foods that they never touch while dining out. 

While some of their reasoning comes down to ethical concerns or a worry that anything ground up generally adds an air of mystery no one wants when tucking into a meal, chefs also avoid certain dishes because they know how kitchens work or just because they make their skin crawl. 

We asked Silvia Baldini and private chefs from La Belle Assiette cooking service what they refuse to eat in restaurants, and the underrated foods people should try instead. 

Silvia Baldini, a New York-based chef and winner of Food Network’s Chopped

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I stay away from the special of day, unless I’m in a reputable restaurant. Chefs have a way to reuse leftovers and the least fresh ingredients in the specials.

I don’t eat mussels, for shellfish in general, unless I know the chef personally! I love mussels, in fact when I was pregnant, that’s what I craved (I’m chef after all). But I know it takes one single bad mussels not properly cooked to make you see stars and not in a good way. So I watch out.

The chili special or the meatloaf? Again I eat my own. I want to know what’s ground up into my favourite comfort food.

Mayo and hollandaise at the end of week? No thank you. Chefs keep those uncooked eggs sauces in the fridge the whole week. So I eat them on Monday not on Saturday. 

Oh and watch out for filthy bathrooms. If a restaurant cannot keep the ladies room clean, I cannot trust them to keep the kitchen clean either. Yuk! 

What are some foods that are underrated and that more people should try?

I think people have been so obsessed with bacon, and grease that they have forgotten the pleasure of simple food. Broccoli. Broccoli and Brussels Sprouts are so so good if you know how to cook them. 

I’m obsessed with chickpeas lately. They are so easy to cook, they taste amazing and everyone can slow cook a pot. 

David Tanner is based in North East England, and has been a chef for for 8 years

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I cannot eat bananas, the texture is awful! However, I do use bananas in desserts often.

I don't eat or use cashew nuts, the conditions workers are exposed to while extracting the nut from a poisonous shell are horrific and shouldn’t be supported.

What are some foods that are underrated and that more people should try?

Tonka Beans. They have an amazing flavour when infused in creams and sauces.

Philippe Roth is based in London. He has been a chef for 34 years 

La tête de veau is like marmite, I hate it. It’s made using a calves brain and has a very unique flavour and texture. 

What are some foods that are underrated and that more people should try?

Mackrell is full of Omega 3 and flavour and quite cheap. When roasted turnips turn from bitter to melt in the mouth. 

Rosie Llewellyn is based in north west London. She has been a chef for almost four years

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I try and avoid all processed foods. As a chef I know how to make the equivalent from scratch, avoiding additives, E numbers and poor quality ingredients! 

What are some foods that are underrated and that more people should try?

Nose to tail eating is so underrated: some of the tastiest cuts of meat are the cheapest.

I recently did a job where I only needed the tentacles from squid and I got them nearly free as so many customers ask for squid without the tentacles.

James Howe is based in Kings Lynn, Norfolk. He has been a chef for a decade

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I would never eat foie gras as I feel it’s unethical.

What are some foods that are underrated and that more people should try?

Scarborough woof, massively underrated fish and a cheap alternative to the over-farmed and expensive cod. 

Paul Fielding is based in the Cotswolds. He has been a chef for 36 years 

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I never eat offal of any kind, the texture, taste and appearance put me off.  

What are some foods that are underrated and that more people should try?

The neck loin of lamb is the most underrated piece of meat. It’s cheap, easy to cook and the flavour is incredible. Roll in crushed star anise while resting for a real treat.

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