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Never Have I Ever: Chefs Confess Their Culinary Blind Spots

By Kelly Dobkin
April 14, 2014
Photo by: Danya Henninger

Think chefs have tried every food known to man? Think again. Even after so many years of cooking and eating, just about everyone, including chefs, has those few items that have escaped their palates. From foods as commonplace as a PB&J or a Cobb salad to more advanced foodie staples like offal and frogs' legs, eight chefs reveal their own personal blind spots below, with a bit of embarrassment.

  • Chef Ryan Skeen, Los Americanos, NYC

    Never tried: a Cobb salad

    “I had quite an embarrassing meeting when I was in talks to consult on this upscale diner. The owners started asking me how I would prepare a Cobb Salad and my sous-chef sitting next to me burst out laughing. He said, 'For all the crazy stuff you know,  you have no idea what a Cobb Salad is, do you?' And I had to admit, not only had I ever heard of it, I never tried it. I just haven’t worked in those sort of diners or hotels that serve it.”

  • Photo by: Evan Sung

    Pastry Chef Alina Martell, Ai Fiori, NYC

    Never tried: a peanut-butter and jelly sandwich

    "As a kid I liked them separately (PB with loads of honey and jam with salty butter) for breakfast. My mom always packed me savory sandwiches (with lots of cheese and mustard). As an adult, I never really considered PB&J as something I would want in sandwich form; too sweet to be satisfying. In bonbon form, PB&J is great. I still love PB (we even make our own at Ai Fiori) and am obsessed with making jam in the summer. I just don't make sandwiches with the two."

  • Photo by: Brittany Sturrett

    Chef Ben Lee, A Voce Madison, NYC

    Never tried: frogs' legs

    "While they are widely considered a delicacy, I can’t get past the image of the formaldehyde-preserved frogs from high-school biology class. I have worked in many kitchens where they are served, but still have never worked up the courage to try them. While everyone might say they taste just like chicken, to me they are still the slimy reptiles I was forced to dissect."

  • Corporate Executive Chef Brian Howard, Comme Ca (West Hollywood and Las Vegas)

    Never tried: insects

    "Anyone who knows me knows I have a deep-rooted love for Asian cuisine. I’m a firm believer of trying anything once, and I have tried almost everything from balut (developing duck embryo) to snake wine. But I’m not sure if I’ll ever build myself up to trying insects, which are widely popular in Asian cuisine."

  • Chef Patricio Sandoval, Mercadito, NYC 

    Never tried: heart/offal

    “I have never tried the heart of any animal. I’ve had tripe and I didn’t like it. Since then, I won’t eat offal. For example, foie gras sounds great, but I can’t eat it.”

  • Photo by: Josh Meredith

    Chef Levon Wallace, Proof on Main, Louisville, KY

    Never tried: blowfish

    "I love sashimi and sushi and have always wanted to try fugu, or blowfish. I think it's exhilarating and exciting that a menu item could be potentially life-threatening, and have also heard that it's delicious! I'm embarrassed to say that I have yet to order it and try it."

  • Chef Matt McClure, The Hive, Bentonville, AR

    Never tried: durian

    "I love experimenting with unique ethnic fruits and vegetables, and I am embarrassed to say that I still have yet to try durian. I see it all of the time in some of the local ethnic markets, and feel like I should have definitely tried it by now!"

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