The Citymeals Blog

Food for Though
smiling chefs

Chefs' Guilty Pleasures

Today, the most renowned chefs are serving extraordinary cuisine in hotels across the globe from Buenos Aires and London, to Dubai and Sydney. On Monday, 45 of these culinary stars will bring their best dishes to New York City for the 33rd Annual Chefs' Tribute to Citymeals on Wheels. So we asked them to tell us about their own hotel stays, guilty food pleasures and favorite seasonal ingredients.

What is the first thing you do when you walk into your hotel room?

I empty my suitcase, make myself an espresso, check out the shower and the pillows to make sure they’re fluffy enough. - Citymeals Board Co-President, Daniel Boulud of Restaurant Daniel and Cafe Boulud at the Four Seasons in Toronto

I usually turn on the TV and reach for the peanut M&M’s from the mini bar. - David Burke of Tavern 62 in New York City

Jump on the bed! - Silvana Vivoli of Stella 34 in Florence, Italy and Vivoli Gelato in New York City

What is your go-to room service order?

Depends on where in the world. If I’m in Asia, most likely fried rice. Anywhere else, most likely a burger or a club sandwich. - Chef Rudi Liebenberg of the Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town

Eggs benedict. For me it’s a simple dish but a good judge of the cooking standard. - Mathew Woolf of Rainbow Room in New York City

Surprisingly, two chefs — Andreas Kissler at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis and Cassidee Dabney at Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee — have never even experienced room service. “I like to go out and experience as many local restaurants as I can!” Dabney says.

As soon as it’s in season, what ingredient do you get excited about cooking with and eating?

Ramps for sure. Early asparagus, strawberries, peaches, soft shell crabs, shad roe, early squashes and pumpkins. - Scott Conant of Cellaio at Resorts World Casino, Monticello, New York

Ayu, Japanese sweet fish. - Dale Talde of Rice & Gold at Hotel 50 Bowery in New York City

scott conant
Chef Scott Conant will join us again for the 33rd Annual Chefs' Tribute to Citymeals.

What is your food guilty pleasure?

In-N-Out Burger. - Gregorio Stephenson of Nobu Ryokan Malibu and Nobu Hotel Palo Alto in California

Chocolate graham cracker sandwich with fluff, peanut butter and chocolate ice cream! Maybe some chocolate sprinkles too! - Richard Capizzi of Lincoln Ristorante in New York City

And one of the founders of Chefs’ Tribute, Larry Forgione, admits: “Too many to mention!”

What is the kitchen utensil you can’t live without?

I can’t live without a truffle slicer. I don’t just use it to slice truffles. It is perfect for slicing vegetables, chocolate, parmigiana, mushrooms, etc. I don’t think many people know that.
- Michael White of Ai Fiori at the Langham Hotel in New York City.

At work, a good spoon. I use it for saucing, basting, tasting. At home, my dutch oven.
- Michelle Weaver of the Charleston Grill in South Carolina

What philanthropic efforts have led you to work with Citymeals on this year’s event?

I love to have the opportunity to help others with what is my passion — cooking. And whenever there is a chance, I try to be there. - Juan Gaffuri of Elena Restaurant at the Four Seasons in Buenos Aires.

I have learned that food has the power to heal. I am grateful for the opportunities to participate in meal deliveries with Citymeals. Seeing the recipients is fantastic and brings it all back. -Lena Ciardullo

I started by delivering meals with Citymeals on Thanksgiving day twenty some-odd years ago and now I host a number of events to benefit Citymeals. Citymeals is a necessary part of our New York City and one of the best run charitable organizations here. I will always be a part of what they are doing. - Citymeals Board Member Charlie Palmer of Aureole at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas

Food For Thought