"I've always been a fan of any food high in salt and starch," Grant Achatz says, "and soft pretzels right out of the oven are awesome." You can eat these slightly sweet, chewy, dark pretzel sticks plain or with mustard; Achatz goes for ranch dressing.
Most of us think of Buffalo wings as bar food, but with their accompaniment of celery sticks and creamy blue-cheese dressing, they make a fine casual meal. These wings are hot, but if you like them incendiary, pass extra Tabasco sauce at the table.
These mini burgers are extra juicy because they're made with a mixture of meats, including ground chuck and short rib. The accompanying onion rings are unbelievably crispy, thanks to the club soda in the batter.
To make these addictive peanuts extra-tangy, Chris Yeo soaks them in lime juice before frying them and tossing them with tart shredded lime leaves. He served them at the Atlanta party because Georgia is the peanut capital of the country.
Grace Parisi makes brilliant use of throw-away potato peels: She deep-fries them until they're crispy, then sprinkles them with Parmesan. An utterly addictive snack, they're great with cocktails, beer or wine.
Deconstructed nachos were the inspiration behind this fun pizza. Made with chili-spiced black-bean puree, tomatoes, olives, shredded lettuce and low-fat Jack cheese on a whole-wheat crust, the pie also gets a little low-fat sour cream (that nacho staple) on top.
Walking into a yakitori bar in Tokyo, chef Dean Fearing was startled by the thick grill smoke filling the room, then delighted by the delicious flavor of the skewered meats. "These chicken skewers are as close to the food from that grill as I can remember," he says.