Comfort food is one of those rare culinary categories that’s purely emotional. Generally rooted in childhood nostalgia, this class of cuisine is the equivalent of a childhood security blanket. Traditional American comfort foods — biscuits and gravy, macaroni and cheese, casseroles — tend to be hot and calorie-dense. They rely on staples such as flour, milk, and cheese, and they don’t get too wild with seasonings. Other cultures follow their own set of rules when it comes to ingredients, but the finished products rarely stray from the tried and true themes of rich, savory, and rustic .
There’s no getting away from the deep and abiding love people have for some fatty, fatty food. In order to get an even better handle on food that’s part sustenance, part time machine, and part trigger for a feel-good chemical dump in the brain, we asked some of the country’s most esteemed culinary experts what they wolf down when they’re looking for a little love on a plate. Not only did we get some insight into the enduring appeal of comfort classics, we got some great restaurant recommendations.
Chef John Kunkel — Founder, 50 Eggs Inc
“In my early twenties, I actually moved to South East Asia and for the next several years spent a great deal of time traveling throughout Asia, absorbing the unique flavors and spices of that region. Therefore, as much as I crave my grandmother’s fine fried chicken from my childhood served in a brown paper bag — lately, I tend to revert back to my young adulthood and search for true authentic Asian Street food. Currently, David Chang’s Momofuku, Las Vegas is my absolute go to place for authentic and creative Asian street comfort food.”
Chef Fernando Valladares — Co-founder, and chef, Portside
“As much as I love my mother’s cooking, the ultimate comfort food for me has always been a good old fashioned cheeseburger. No joke, if I could get away with eating burgers three times a day, I would (which, maybe I’ve done, or maybe not… no one will ever know).
The burger that gives me the ultimate comfort would be The Apple Pan’s Hickory Burger. As you enter, you pray to the burger lords for an open barstool, if not you stand awkwardly right behind someone hoping that your intentional heavy breathing down their neck rushes them to finish their meal.