Ryan Smith is executive chef at Staplehouse. Sure, the Old Fourth Ward restaurant is offering some of the most exciting food in Atlanta right now, and recently was named America’s best new restaurant by Bon Appetit magazine. But that doesn’t mean Smith is above eating junk food. Specifically, Doritos and sour cream. Kara Hidinger, his wife, grew up eating this snack combination. Smith told her he thought it was the weirdest thing, until he tried it. It feels good to do something bad, Smith said of why we indulge in guilty food pleasures. (Renee Brock)

Metro Atlanta chefs and their guilty pleasures

The last person you’d expect to run into while grabbing fast food for lunch is a James Beard Foundation award winner for Best Chef: Southeast. But, I did precisely that one afternoon at a local Chipotle.

When I walked into the dining room holding a basket of tacos, I stopped briefly and gasped internally as I spotted Atlanta chef and “Root to Leaf” cookbook author Steven Satterfield. He was eating a burrito in a sunny perch by a bank of windows.

“What are you doing here?” I asked incredulously. Satterfield explained he sometimes stops in before heading to work, and he thinks the restaurant has good food sourcing and flavors. The Miller Union executive chef was eating his usual: a burrito with pinto beans, brown rice, carnitas, tomatillo salsa and guacamole.

Seeing Satterfield, who makes one of my favorite dishes in the city — a farm egg baked in celery cream — gave me an odd sense of satisfaction and happiness. It made me realize that our food heroes are mortal people, too.

It also made me wonder what other guilty food pleasures chefs have. Maybe they, too, are stuffing their faces with doughnuts at weekend farmers markets instead of purchasing produce. Probably not, but I had to find out. I asked five of Atlanta’s top chefs to dish about some of their favorite indulgences.

Steven Satterfield often makes nachos on Sunday afternoons when he’s not working at Miller Union. “After having a couple of beers at home, we get hungry and we usually have chips and the fixin’s for nachos,” he said. Satterfield prefers to prepare the dish as a flat layer instead of a big mound. His favorite nachos rendition hails from Gina Hamadey’s cookbook, “Buenos Nachos,” and includes black-eyed peas, green tomato pico de gallo, raw turnip greens, radishes and a mixture of sour cream and yogurt. (Renee Brock)
Photo: For the AJC

Steven Satterfield often makes nachos on Sunday afternoons when he’s not working at Miller Union. “After having a couple of beers at home, we get hungry and we usually have chips and the fixin’s for nachos,” he said. Satterfield prefers to prepare the dish as a flat layer instead of a big mound. His favorite nachos rendition hails from Gina Hamadey’s cookbook, “Buenos Nachos,” and includes black-eyed peas, green tomato pico de gallo, raw turnip greens, radishes and a mixture of sour cream and yogurt. (Renee Brock)

When Asha Gomez posted a photo of a Stouffer’s Lasagna box on Instagram, many moms recognized the packaging and replied, Gomez recalled, saying words to the effect of, “Thank you for allowing us not to feel like bad mommies.” The chef at Spice to Table and author of new cookbook “My Two Souths” also is the mother of an 11-year-old son. “I made real lasagna once, and he liked the Stouffer’s better,” Gomez said. (Renee Brock)
Photo: For the AJC
Champagne might be a guilty pleasure, if you have a glass for breakfast almost every morning like chef Todd Richards. “Everyone knows Champagne is my drink of choice,” said the name behind Richards’ Southern Fried at Krog Street Market and the executive chef at White Oak Kitchen & Cocktails. To him, the bubbly represents grandeur and is a way to celebrate life each new day. Another of the chef’s guilty pleasures was influenced by his father, who, he said, was notorious for wrapping lettuce and cheese. For a quick lunch, Richards usually will make make lettuce wraps with cheese, smoked fish, radishes and pickles. “It’s one flavorful bite and it’s quick and easy.” (Renee Brock)
Photo: For the AJC

Champagne might be a guilty pleasure, if you have a glass for breakfast almost every morning like chef Todd Richards. “Everyone knows Champagne is my drink of choice,” said the name behind Richards’ Southern Fried at Krog Street Market and the executive chef at White Oak Kitchen & Cocktails. To him, the bubbly represents grandeur and is a way to celebrate life each new day. Another of the chef’s guilty pleasures was influenced by his father, who, he said, was notorious for wrapping lettuce and cheese. For a quick lunch, Richards usually will make make lettuce wraps with cheese, smoked fish, radishes and pickles. “It’s one flavorful bite and it’s quick and easy.” (Renee Brock)

If you’re from New England, you probably recognize a fluffernutter. Anne Quatrano, the James Beard Award-winning chef and restaurateur behind Bacchanalia, Star Provisions, Floataway Cafe and W.H. Stiles Fish Camp, certainly does. The Connecticut-raised Quatrano frequently opened the school lunch bags her mother packed for her to find this sandwich of peanut butter and marshmallow fluff on white bread. At Star Provisions, Quatrano offers an upscale version of the sandwich using homemade fluff and organic peanut butter. “It has no redeeming qualities. Everything in it is taboo. It has carbs, sugar, which is the enemy, and peanuts,” Quatrano said, referring to the much maligned allergy-inducing legume. Besides being tasty, though, fluffernutters are filled with memories. “It makes me think of childhood and a much simpler time,” Quatrano said. (Renee Brock)
Photo: For the AJC
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