You would expect Grant Achatz's macaroni and cheese to have some chef tricks, but it doesn't. He uses a white sauce, elbow macaroni and cheddar cheese, just like the rest of us. His personal touch: a tablespoon of paprika (to enhance the color of the sauce) and lots of smoky, crisp bacon bits.
In Jean-Georges Vongerichten's version of a dish that his friend Maya Gurley serves at her St. Bart's restaurant, he dresses plump tomatoes and sweet, juicy mango slices with red wine vinegar, just a little olive oil and plenty of sliced fresh basil.
"For me there is no better tapa than a really good stuffed olive," José Andrés says. He strongly recommends homemade stuffed olives over the store-bought kind, which he proclaims are "usually terrible." Plus, if you stuff them yourself, you've got a million options: "If you love almonds, use good marcona almonds. If you love anchovy, use good Spanish anchovies. If you love peppers, use peppers; I like the wood-roasted piquillo peppers from Navarra. Or if you are like me, you use all three."
A long-simmered stew made with dried fruit and nuts is typically Catalan. Ferran Adrià's version starts with a store-bought rotisserie chicken—the ones in Spain are superdelicious—finished with a quick fruit-and-nut sauce that uses the flavorful poultry drippings.