11 Celebrities’ Dream Nachos
Hugh Acheson: Weekend Nachos
Georgia restaurateur Hugh Acheson ( F&W Best New Chef class of 2002) explains his nachos narratively: “Start by making some beer-braised beef short ribs. And fancy that, you made too many! With the leftovers, you will make nachos. In this idealized experience, you will frolic in the woods, foraging for ramps. You are dressed like a gnome, but nobody cares. You get back to the kitchen and have some pressure-cooked pintos all ready to go. Let’s build some nachos: Take the beef plus pintos plus jack cheese, pickled peppers, those ramps all charred and tasty and assemble it all over tasty white corn tortilla chips, which maybe you made yourself. That gets baked until crisp and gooey and melty, and then you get all Jackson Pollock when the crema comes out. You eat and drink a beer, all the while wearing that gnome uniform with pride.”
Dominique Ansel: Palmier Nachos with Salty Bananas Flambé
For this dessert master, “constantly testing the boundaries of creativity” is a priority at the many outposts of his Dominique Ansel Bakery. “But we never forget that the best desserts in the world are simply the ones that make you smile,” says Ansel. “And being able to eat with your hands is always a good thing.” The pastry chef’s “nachos” replace the traditional tortilla chips with buttery, flaky palmiers—perfect for piling high with salted caramel bananas.
Big Freedia: Creole Crawfish Nachos
Big Freedia, the New Orleans bounce pioneer whose national appearances include roles in Love & Hip Hop and the “Formation” music video, cites childhood memories as inspiration for her recipe. “Crawfish is something my mom made all the time when I was a kid, so I can make crawfish in many forms. It’s so New Orleans. I love making these and curling up on the couch and watching Love & Hip Hop with my man.” These nachos are all about local flavor: “in New Orleans, whether it’s food or music, we put our own spin on things!”
Colin Hanks: Holy Guacamole Nachos
Colin Hanks admits that he, like everyone, loves guacamole: “There is nothing I do not like about guacamole. I could live off of chips and guac,” says the actor and documentary filmmaker. “In fact, I have tried on numerous occasions. I just want to put it on everything.” The Fargo and Dexter star’s recipe has a hint of chipotle and lime.
Kristen Kish: Nachos in a Bag
Kristen Kish, season 10 winner of Top Chef, is a self-described “traditionalist when it comes to nachos.” Her “walking taco” recipe is meant to bring to mind cafeteria lunches and frito pies: after topping chips with olives, pickled jalapeños, ground beef and more—even ranch dressing!—”you roll the top of the paper bag closed, shake it, then dig in with a plastic spork. The chips are evenly coated, every bite drenched, your knuckles kissed by the flavors as you dig for that last bite in the bottom corner.” Adds Kish, “When I was a kid, it was fun. As an adult, it’s fuel for nights of too many drinks and filthy one-night stands..”
Ed Lee: Gochujang Chili-Cheese Nachos
“I eat nachos only a few times a year, so when I do, I want to make sure it’s worth it,” says Ed Lee, Louisville restaurateur and star of Mind of a Chef season 3. “This recipe is not for the timid. It requires a long night, beers, whiskey and loud music.” Lee’s nachos incorporate gochujang, a fermented chili paste made with rice and soybeans that adds heat to traditional Korean dishes like bibimbap.
Rachael Ray: Black & Blue Nachos
“I love these nachos because they are meat-free and very healthy, with warm, spicy black bean dip and tons of veggies,” says Rachael Ray, talk show host, editor and Food Network personality. The star of her recipe is a cucumber gazpacho salsa: “When it comes to nachos, more is more, and with these healthy toppings, I feel less guilty about eating a big, crunchy, cheesy pile of chips.”
Gail Simmons: Heebster Nachos
These nachos—which share a name with the iconic Russ and Daughters bagel sandwich—are based on Gail Simmons’ childhood memories of Jewish delis. The Top Chef host (and F&W’s Special Projects Manager) adds smoked whitefish and everything bagel seasoning to her pita-based nachos: “These are totally silly and go against everything I hold dear about Mexican nachos,” she says. “BUT. THEY ARE INSANELY DELICIOUS.”
Jorma Taccone and Marielle Heller: East Bay Burrito Nachos
This NYC-based couple has long argued over the best burritos in the Bay Area—where they are originally from. Heller, writer-director of The Diary of a Teenage Girl, says she’s dragged her husband to “Ramiro and Sons, in Alameda, so I could convince him it’s the best.” Taccone had long been a devotee of Gordo’s in Berkeley, but the Lonely Island Member may have come around: “It hurts my heart to admit that I might like Ramiro more. My friends would kill me if they see that in print.” These nachos, based on their many burrito adventures, conform to Taccone’s cardinal rule: “No fucking lettuce.”
Tiffani Thiessen: Breakfast Nachos
“Growing up in Southern California, nachos were something of a weekly craving,” says Tiffani Thiessen—known for playing everyone’s favorite SoCal cheerleader, Kelly Kapowski, on Saved by the Bell. After successful stints on programs like Beverly Hills 90210 and White Collar, she’s found a home on the Cooking Channel with Dinner at Tiffani’s (now in its third season). Her nachos with eggs and breakfast sausage are perfect for any time of day.
Andrew Zimmern: Best Nachos of All Time
“I serve this dish all the time at house parties, both for adults and for kids,” says Andrew Zimmern. “My son grew up eating spicy foods: Kids are more adventurous than we give them credit for.” The Bizarre Foods host and multiple Beard Award-winner says the elaborate preparation is worth it: “These supersophisticated nachos are built with several components, all made from scratch and delicious on their own. When served together, they will blow your mind.”