Chefs Tell Us The Foods They Love That Get A Bad Rap


The term “picky eater” wasn’t commonly used before the 1970s, when it became a convenient label for children who would only swallow mac and cheese (and adults who rarely tried new things). But what do you call it when a person simply has a few items that make them deeply unhappy? That’s certainly not picky. It’s a preference — one that others often share. Hawaiian pizza, candy corn, and cilantro are always going to be contentious — with people falling strongly on both sides of the issue. Because what constitutes a “good” food is often in the eye of the beholder.

To discover which eatables the food world feels are being given a bad rap, we consulted a group of chefs from across the country. They came back with a super varied list, including some real surprises. Read through their answers and hop into the comments to declare your love for a vilified food. Or why it should stay out of kitchens forever. We will do our best to support you in these trying times.

Beets and Fermented Foods

Duncan Holmes, Executive Chef of Beckon | Call in Denver, Colorado
“For starters, I would say beets get a bad rap. I’m not really sure why so many people are generally opposed to the sight and taste of beets. After that, I would probably say fermented foods generally are looked over. As a concept and way of living, fermenting is an interesting thing to explore. Fermenting used to be more of a common practice than perhaps it is now. Flavor-wise, fermented items can add incredible depth to dishes. Most specifically fermenting meats and fishes to add to vegetable dishes is really quite remarkable. Beyond that, it is possible to conceive that if fermenting food products was brought back into play a little more and more widely taught, it could potentially do a lot for us in the way of food waste (both on the commercial and personal household level).”

Pre-made Pancake Mix

Jean Delgado, Chef of Toro Toro Miami in Miami, Florida
“Pre-made pancake mix. It’s comprised of the basic ingredients you need as a base to create whatever type of pancakes you want. It will save you a lot of time and you can add your own twists by adding fresh fruit and nuts to the mix.”

Vegan Food

Brian Nasajon, Chef of Beaker & Gray and Mason Eatery in Miami, Florida
“I think vegan food gets hated on too much. I think people still associate vegan food with healthy food, which also kinda gets a bad rap. Planta proves vegan doesn’t have to be health food, and it’s delicious.”

Canned Foods

Michael Beltran, Chef and Owner of Ariete in Miami, Florida
“I think canned food has a really bad rap. Take canned seafood for example. A lot of people stay away from canned cod, squid, and even anchovies. Personally, I love canned sardines from Spain and I happen to think all of that stuff is absolutely delicious.”

Greasy Burgers

Courtney Hellenschmidt, Chef de Cuisine of Toups Meatery in New Orleans, Louisiana
“Call me old fashion but I think a big greasy burger never gets a good rap. It’s not an everyday meal but it’s a delicious classic that everyone loves, especially late at night. My favorite place is Buffa’s Bar on Esplanade Avenue in New Orleans. They have a wide variety of burgers and sandwiches, but my favorite is The Gotham Knight, a beef burger with ham and Swiss cheese.”

Mexican Food

Santiago Gomez, Chef of Cantina La Veinte and Tacology in Miami, Florida
“Mexican food. I feel that people sometimes think it’s too spicy or that it’s only for street food. They couldn’t be more wrong! Here at Cantina, we are trying to change that stereotype with high-end Mexican cuisine.”

Brussels Sprouts

Ian Maschal, Chef de Cuisine at Eventide Fenway in Boston, Massachusetts
“Can I still say brussels sprouts? The ageless overcooked wonder is amazing when cooked properly. Super hard sear, butter, salt, and lemon?! Yes, please!”

French Fries

Robin Miller, Host of Real Life Kitchen on Blupprint
“If you mean in terms of being ‘unhealthy,’ I would say French fries. Greasy-good French fries. And the BEST place to indulge is Pommes Frites in New York. These classic Belgian fries are double-fried, so they’re crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. And those toppings… the list is WAY too long to recite, so I’ll shout out my top picks: parmesan peppercorn, TLC (tequila, lime, chipotle), wild mushroom, and War Sauce (traditional European mayo, peanut satay, and raw onion).”