13 OC Chefs Tell Us Their Guilty Pleasure Foods

Chefs spend their lives perfecting their knife skills, temperature methods, and other fancy cooking techniques, but whenever greasy fast food and grocery-store ice cream call 'em, they answer–just like us. We all need days where we put on our stretchy pants and wreck havoc at foods made with ingredients too difficult to pronounce, anyway. It's just a part of life. To prove this, we asked 13 OC chefs what their guilty pleasure foods are… you might be surprised!


Chef Thomas Ortega, Executive Chef and Owner of Amor Y Tacos (Cerritos)

He says:

When I get a junk food craving, a wood-fired pizza does the trick with good quality sausage, pepperoni, and jalapeños. Pizzeria Ortica has a great RAPINI pizza with house-made fennel sausage, San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella, rapini, chiles, and fried egg.

Any place that has sweetbreads on the menu, I have to order it. But I get very picky because it's needs to prepared just right. There's a very specific process to making sweetbreads and very often I find that most places don't prepare it properly. When it's done right, they're so good!

Dean Simon, Owner and Chief Waffler at Bruxie (Huntington Beach)

He says:

Finishing up Saturday store visits with my wife, Cindy, at Bruxie Huntington Beach, we love enjoying a slow drive down PCH to SOL Cocina. My order is two grilled fish tacos and a cucumber jalapeno margarita… I ask for 'light on the agave, please.' The view is bomb and these are hands down the best fish tacos in OC…

Greg Daniels, Executive Chef/Partner at Haven Gastropub and Provisions Market

Daniels says:

One of my guilty pleasure foods is the dark chocolate acai with blueberry candy that you can buy at Costco. There's something addicting about the combination of rich, dark chocolate enveloping a soft, juicy center. Just another reason to love Costco!

We love 'em too, Greg. We love 'em too.
Cathy Pavlos, Executive Chef/Owner at LUCCA Cafe (Irvine) and Provenance (Newport Beach)

She says:

That's an easy one: Ben and Jerry's Phish Food–and then I top it with Trader Joe's Salted Roasted Almonds. After a big night at the restaurants, you may see me with two scoops!

Now that's a good dessert idea!

Andrew Gruel, Executive Chef/Owner at Slapfish and co-host of Say It to My Face! on FYI!

Ever love something so much you eat it every single day? Chef Gruel does. He says:

I'm not kidding when I say that I eat a Turkey Bacon Breakfast Sandwich from Starbucks seven days a week. You could call it a guilty pleasure, but it's their reduced fat breakfast sandwich, which, next to convenience and caffeine, is a really big selling point.

Niki Starr Weyler, Executive Chef at Mesa (Costa Mesa)

She says:

My fave guilty pleasure in OC: ham and cheese croissant with jalapeños from Dough Boy Donuts on PCH at Superior. The hot gooey cheese with the spicy pickled jalapeños are a perfect way to end a night out drinking and, since they are open 24 hours, you can decide when the night ends.

Helene An, Executive Chef at AnQi (Costa Mesa)

Are you a sweet tooth? Chef An is too. She says:

My favorite guilty pleasure is warm French beignets with salted caramel sauce–so much so that I have to include it on my menu from time to time. I also love 20-layer crepe cakes with whipped butter cream frosting. I definitely have a sweet tooth!

Rainer Schwarz, Executive Chef and Partner at Driftwood Kitchen and The Deck on Laguna Beach

We've got another pizza lover over here. Let Chef Schwarz elaborate:

My guilty pleasure has always been pizza… locally, I really love The Winery Restaurant's Alsatian “pizza” — Chef Yvon Goetz's French pizza takes it to another level!

Shirly Chung, Chef Partner at TWENTY EIGHT (Irvine)

She says:

I don't eat a lot of sweets normally, but Honey & Butter Macaroons are not overly sweet and are perfectly aged to the ideal chewiness. Also, they make the cutest designs! Pandas, Totoro, flowers, bees… Not just your average macarons, they are little pieces of edible art.

Enrique Escolona, Head Chef at LinX (Orange)

He says:

My guilty pleasure is New York Steak. I like it with garlic mushrooms and zucchini and it's got to be cooked medium. I love onions on my vegetables as well.

Noah Blom, Executive Chef and Partner at ARC Restaurant (Costa Mesa)

Around lunch time, if we're not at ARC, chances are you'll find me and Marin at El Matador. It's one of our go-to spots.

Deborah M. Schneider, Executive Chef and Partner at SOL Mexican Cocina (Newport Beach) and solita Tacos & Margaritas (Huntington Beach)

She says:

So embarrassing, but I love Turtles candy, Kraft Mac-and-Cheese and Honey-Nut Cheerios.

Dean Kim, Master Baker and Owner at OC Baking Company

He says:

I really love Break of Dawn's Bison sausage and eggs–it's a very hearty dish, especially with the black rice! Awesome! Or Benji's #5. Benji's is a great New York-style deli in Tustin and this is their great combo sandwich of corn beef and pastrami on rye.

Email: kh****@oc******.com.

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