Superfast Snacks: Chef Inspirations
Most chefs can concoct a snack that's as inspired as a restaurant dish, but if they're making it at home, there's one major requirement: "Because we spend so many hours cooking in a restaurant, it always has to be fast," says Jason Wilson of Crush in Seattle. Here, Wilson and four other Food & Wine Best New Chefs share their favorite superfast snack ideas.
1. Salad tacos from Jason Wilson of Crush in Seattle (an F&W Best New Chef 2006)
"We get very little sunshine in the northwest, so when we do, I prepare the components of this snack to go: romaine lettuce leaves, smoked salmon, eggs, olives and tomatoes. When we're sitting around a picnic table enjoying the good weather, everyone can assemble the ingredients in their own romaine cups. I also wrap romaine around leftover chicken, corn and asparagus, tossed with vinegar and olive oil. My wife and I eat these 'salad tacos' with our 20-month-old son—he has a slightly older friend, 28 months old, who asks for them by name."
2. Bacon popcorn from Gavin Kaysen of Café Boulud in New York City (an F&W Best New Chef 2007)
"I drizzle hot bacon fat from the skillet over popcorn, then season it with salt and pepper. I don't think life gets any better than that—you could put pork fat on a muffler, and it would still taste good! I've also made popcorn with foie gras drippings."
3. Frozen tangerine segments from Tyson Cole of Uchi in Austin (an F&W Best New Chef 2005)
"When frozen, the texture of tangerines, satsuma oranges and other types of sweet citrus segments becomes almost like popsicles. And they're so sweet, like candy. To make them I peel a tangerine, and then cut the segments out from the white membrane using a small paring knife. Then I freeze them and have them around as a healthy, quick snack."
4. Doctored ramen noodles from Jim Burke of James in Philadelphia (an F&W Best New Chef 2008)
"A big favorite of mine and my wife Kristina's are ramen noodles that we toss with leftover roasted meats, or even fish. The most memorable version we've ever made had leftover shredded roast chicken and frozen peas, seasoned with mild curry powder and spicy Sriracha, a fiery Asian hot sauce. For this, it has to be Sriracha—it can't be the tangy Louisiana-style or Mexican hot sauces. Those would clash terribly.'
5. Roasted, salted chiles from Joseph Wrede of Joseph's Table in Taos, New Mexico (an F&W Best New Chef 2000)
"The harvesting of green chiles in New Mexico symbolizes the change of seasons. Families will traditionally roast and peel the chiles to store for winter. For a snack, we like to grill them—or roast them directly on a stovetop gas burner. When the chiles blister, we rub off the skins, then salt them and serve. The grilled New Mexico chiles have a complex flavor and exciting heat, and they pick up the smoky aroma of the grill beautifully."