- Contrary to what you might believe, chefs rave about their favourite fast-food items.
- In-N-Out,McDonald’s breakfast, and Del Taco’s original menu items are some chef favourites.
- INSIDER spoke to 14 chefs who love drive-throughs just as much as you do.
- Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more.
Although you may think that chefs only dine at high-end restaurants and cook for themselves, many have a big love for fast food. And although everyone has their favourite order, if you’re looking for a new item to try, who better to go to than a professional chef?
We asked 14 chefs what they order when they hit the fast-food drive-through. Their answers ranged from tacos to burgers to everything in between.
In-N-Out is the favourite fast-food restaurant among these professional chefs.
“When I first moved to Sacramento, California, this was just the best burger around and it was cheap too,” Chef Carl Yeh of Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar, in Maui, Hawai’i said of the double cheeseburger topped with their special spread and grilled onions.
Chef Karla Lomeli, who is the chef instructor at Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts in Boulder, Co also loves In-N-Out but says she gets her Double-Double with whole grilled onions.
Chef Jeff Haskell, who is the culinary director of In Good Company Hospitality in New York City, told us that he loves the plain hamburger but puts french fries between the buns.
“Their burgers aren’t like regular fast-food burgers,” Haskell said. “They aren’t filled with additives or preservatives and their lettuce, tomatoes, and onions are always so fresh. I like to put my fries inside the burger. The salty fries add another flavour dimension to the already delicious burger, bringing out the best in each other when eaten together in one mouthful!”
KFC’s original fried chicken is “good old fashioned comfort food.”
Maui sushi chef Yeh also calls KFC’s chicken the “only fried chicken I knew growing up in Pennsylvania.” He loves this greasy dish and calls it “good old-fashioned comfort food.”
McDonald’s Sausage, Egg & Cheese McGriddle is a “masterpiece.”
Chef Justin Khanna is a co-founder at bespoke dining experience Voyager’s Table and called McDonald’s Sausage, Egg, & Cheese McGriddle “a masterpiece.”
“It’s chewy, sticky, and sweet pancake buns with a salty, crispy, and peppery sausage topped with a fluffy folded egg and gooey cheese. Pair it with a hashbrown with hot sauce and you’ve effectively got a quintessential American diner-style breakfast that you can eat one-handed on your way to your destination. Fast food’s convenience, processed consistency, and delicious innovation at it’s finest,” Khanna raved about the breakfast item.
The Five Guys bacon cheeseburger is great, according to one chef, thanks to the grilled mushroom add-on.
“[Five Guys] is my go-to place for a burger,” Executive Chef Jordan Buendia at Rococo Steak in St. Petersburg, Florida said. “The burgers are made as soon as you order and you can choose your exact toppings.” He pairs his burger with grilled onions and mushrooms, and adds that “the cajun fries are always hot, they give you a generous amount and your order comes in a brown sack like the good old days.”
Jack In The Box’s tacos have a perfect meat-to-sauce-to-cheese ratio.
Chef Chanel Hayes, executive chef at Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts, loves the two-taco deal at Jack In The Box because “they are easy to eat on the go and two are less than $US1.50.” She also adds that the tacos are always crispy and that “the sauce mixes nicely with the meat and American cheese and there is even some freshness with the lettuce. Greasy goodness.”
The McDonald’s Big Mac reminds this chef of his childhood.
Kevin Tien, the executive chef for Himitsu DC and Hot Lola’s in Washington DC, says his usual McDonald’s order is either a Big Mac combo meal with a fruit punch, the 20-piece McNuggets, or the McChicken.
“I love McDonald’s for its convenience and consistency,” he said, while adding that “it reminds me of my childhood, outside of eating Vietnamese food, my grandpa would get the family McDonald’s because it was the ‘American’ thing to eat.”
Checkers crispy seasoned french fries and the Big Buford burger are “heaven” to this chef.
Chef Brian Duffy, from television series “Bar Rescue,” loves Checkers and Rally’s Big Buford burger (two patties, cheese, all the fixin’s) and says their fries “have just the right amount of spice and salt, which is heaven.” He says “no matter how much of a rush I am in, I always try to find a spot outside at a picnic table to enjoy my feast!”
Whataburger’s Monterey Melt is a Texan staple for this chef.
“As a Texan, I grew up eating Whataburger,” says Firoz Thanawalla, chef and owner of kitchen gear company Chef’s Satchel says she eats a Whataburger Monterey Melt (a patty melt with grilled peppers, onions, and jalapeno ranch] at least once a week. “They never fail to impress,” she added.
Wendy’s Double Stack is a simple delight for this chef.
Ian Rough, the corporate chef for Ocean Prime, loves Wendy’s simple Double Stack burger (pickle, mustard, onion, and cheese) because the “two small patties are nice and hot, so the steam in the wrapper makes the bun a little soft.”
Del Taco’s quesadilla and plain taco are iconic for a reason, according to this chef.
“I actually like their plain quesadillas, fries and The Del Taco – an OG on the menu,” Templeton said. “But my favourite menu item is the Del Scorcho Hot Sauce. Best hot sauce to ever come in a packet, hands down.”
Nathan’s Famous beef hot dog is simply delicious to this chef.
Claudia Sidoti, head chef at HelloFresh, loves the Coney Island-style dogs at Nathan’s Famous, citing the “great spicy mustard, onions, and those Boardwalk style fries,” which she says takes her back to actually walking the Coney Island boardwalk.
Chick-fil-A’s Grilled Chicken Club with superfoods is a go-to.
Chef Curl Ardee from Atlanta, Georgia and owner of her own namesake spice blends, always opts for the “Grilled Chicken Club from Chick-fil-A with superfoods (a kale and broccoli salad) on the side … it’s filling but I swap the fries for the superfoods if I’m adding bacon and cheese to the sandwich.”
Taco Bell’s Double Decker Taco has a soft and crunchy taco shell.
“My go-to fast-food spot after a long shift is Taco Bell,” Matt Ayala, executive chef at Cochon Volant Brasserie in Chicago, Illinois said. “Their Double Decker Taco has it all. Of course it has all the regular fixings, but what makes this taco the best is the layer of refried beans between a soft and crunchy shell. It’s the best taco on their menu.”
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