Welcome to Chow Bella's Bites & Dishes, where Valley chefs and restaurateurs respond to a question New Times food critic Laura Hahnefeld has on her mind. Have a question you'd like to ask? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Miss a question? Go here.
When it comes to food, everyone has their vices. But what about chefs and restaurateurs? For all their culinary prowess, where do they go for a guilty pleasure food fix when the prying eyes of diners aren't upon them? I asked a few in the Valley and this is what they had to say:
Jeff Kraus Chef and Owner, Truckin' Good Food and Experience Dining
Commercially processed "junk" is my guilty food pleasure. It consists of an after 10 p.m. heaping spoonful of Nutella plunged into a container of Skippy chunky peanut butter and then Häagen-Dazs vanilla bean ice cream.
Tammie Coe Chef and owner, Tammie Coe Cakes
Ice cream. It's something I can't have in the house. I love to eat it before it melts -- hard and cold. Any flavor is good, as long as it is properly made. I'm a little bit of a connoisseur, the ice crystals must be perfect or it's not worth the calories.
Michael Monti Owner, Monti's La Casa Vieja
It has to be those Hostess Fruit Pies you get at the convenience store.
Josh Hebert Chef and owner, Posh
Canned chicken noodle soup. Even when it's bad, it's still pretty good.
Rita French Chef de Cuisine, Province
I am drawn to anything salty and crispy. The Mayan cochinita pibil quesa at La Condesa Gourmet Taco Shop is my current guilty pleasure food. It's a handmade corn tortilla that stuffed with slow-braised achiote seasoned pork shoulder and Oaxaca cheese. I went there on my day off last week and had it with their assorted salsas on their salsa bar (the pecan salsa being my current favorite) and a big glass of jugo de Jamaica.
Christopher Gross Chef and Owner, Christopher's Restaurant & Crush Lounge
Like foie gras, I can stuff myself with the best New York pizza or carne adovada enchilada-style from Los Dos Molinos along with about a pint of their hot salsa.
Chef Charleen Badman FnB and Baratin
The chips and salsa from The Main Ingredient.
Chef James Molinari Uncle Sal's Italian Restaurant
Pizza. Love it! Can't get enough of it. Pizza is the ultimate guilty pleasure, because you can do so much with it. You can make a breakfast pizza with eggs and bacon, a seafood pizza, and even a dessert pizza. I've had just about everything you can imagine on pizza including a rack of lamb!
Justin Micatrotto, Co-Owner Raising Cane's Chicken Fingers in Arizona
Bacon. This food is actually exempt from a guilty verdict.
Joe Johnston Owner, Joe's Real BBQ, Joe's Fresh Farm Grill, Liberty Market, Agritopia
I'm a crunchy/salty fan, so I gravitate toward potato chips. The best I ever had was Sunday Roast chips in England. They taste like roast beef with all of the fixings.
Azucena Tovar Chef and owner, Los Sombreros
All of my hometown's street food. Whenever I visit my hometown of Miguel Allende, Mexico, I eat nonstop. A few of my favorites are 32-ounce glasses of fresh, seasonal fruit like watermelon, cantaloupe, and jicama topped with spicy pepper powder, lime and salt; street enchiladas with fried carrots and potatoes; and avocado ice cream!
Bill Sandweg Owner Copper Star Coffee and Circle H Barbecue
Um, frozen food aisle Marie Callender's Chicken Pot Pie.
Cullen Campbell Chef and owner, Crudo
DiGiorno Pizza & Wyngz combo with a nice bottle of Barbera. It's not delivery. It's DiGiorno!
Amanda Crick, Pastry Chef Tonto Bar & Grill/Cartwright's Sonoran Ranch House
Fresh-made strawberry ice cream! It's got to have big chunks of strawberries, dark chocolate syrup, caramel candies, sliced bananas, and a couple of Fraises des Boise for garnish.
Justin Beckett Chef and owner, Beckett's Table
Nogales hot dogs, churros, and the pumpkin seed brittle that we make.
Shin Toyoda Sushi master at Sushi Roku
In-N-Out Burger. It gets me every time.
Jennifer Brya and Karen Linkins Owners, Whoopie Baking Co.
Pillsbury pop-and-bake cinnamon rolls with orange glaze. We eat them only once a year and they make the house smell amazing!
Tony Palombino Founder, BoomBozz Pizza & Taphouse
Banana cream pie.
Jon Lane Owner, O.H.S.O.
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Cookie dough-stuffed chocolate tortillas and banana ice cream!
Heather Nasworthy Pastry Chef, Carefree Station
A pasta dish that my mother has made since I was a kid; we called it orange spaghetti. It has ham, mushrooms, and a little onion, cooked with tomato paste and then cream. Butter and cheese are added, turning the sauce orange. It's hard to explain what she does to that dish, but there is a lot of love in it! I have it every year for my birthday.