What Do Chefs Make for Themselves at Home?

You may be amazed at some of the mouth-watering food chefs prepare for customers in their restaurants, but what do chefs make for themselves once work is done? You may be surprised.

A chef puts in hours each day preparing a menu, briefing kitchen staff, prepping ingredients and standing over a hot stove. By the end of their shifts, chefs are thirsty, ravenous and exhausted. Because of this, many chefs tend to put as little effort into their own dinner as possible, or let a spouse or partner do the cooking. They like meals that are easy to assemble and that include ingredients they already have at home. "To tell the truth, when I cook at home — and it's extremely rare — I do so with my girlfriend," says Cleetus Friedman, executive chef at Fountainhead Chicago, Fountainhead Market and The Bar on Buena. "I usually eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, or I'll stock up on stuff from the Whole Foods prepared foods section."

If you, too, have a busy schedule and want to fix some simple dinner recipes, here are three recipes to try:

Fish Tacos

This recipe has many variations, but a simple one uses tilapia (one small filet for every two tacos). Squeeze lime juice over the fish and sprinkle on taco seasoning (about a half teaspoon per filet) and olive oil. Grill, bake or pan-fry the fish (it won't take more than a few minutes). Warm some tortillas and add the fish, some bagged coleslaw mix, tomato, avocado and cilantro. Mix about 1/4 cup ranch dressing with 1 tablespoon salsa and spoon over each taco. Finish with another squeeze of lime.

Baked Chicken

Delicious, moist and easy to prepare for two or more, this chicken bake uses four simple ingredients: chicken breasts, pesto, Roma tomatoes and mozzarella. That's it! Spread the pesto on the chicken, top with sliced tomatoes, sprinkle on the cheese and bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 to 40 minutes. Serve with a salad or a vegetable, and you have a complete meal.

Pasta Puttanesca

For a really simple meal, you only need a few basic ingredients. Take a pint of grape tomatoes and toss them with two teaspoons of olive oil. Sprinkle salt, pepper and oregano to taste and a pinch or two of sugar. Spread the tomato mixture on a baking sheet and roast at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes. Toss with a tablespoon or two of tapenade and mix it into al dente pasta. Grate Parmesan cheese over the top and you're ready to eat.

Friedman isn't the only chef who goes for simple dinner recipes. When asked "What do chefs make for themselves?" Christian Aguilar, sous chef at Quality Meats and Seafood in New York City, offered an easy-to-make BLT recipe. Check it out below:

Christian Aguilar's Jamon BLT


  • 2 slices of white bread
  • Mayonnaise
  • 3 strips of cooked slab bacon
  • 3 slices of smoked ham
  • 2 slices of avocado
  • 2 slices of beef steak tomatoes
  • 2 romaine leaves
  • 1 seedless pickled jalapeno, split in half

Toast the bread, spread mayonnaise (his preference is Hellmann's) on both slices and assemble the sandwich.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons