In honor of Mother’s Day, some of the country’s greatest chefs are reflecting on the original inspiration for some of their favorite dishes.
Alex Guarnaschelli, Iron Chef, Chopped judge and host of Supermarket Stakeout on Food Network
The celebrity chef who is also executive chef at New York City’s Butter restaurant was inspired by a dish that is rather, well, cheesy!
“When I was growing up, my mom made a cheese soufflé that is on my short list of favorite recipes of all time. I always say this was one of those foods that made me want to become a chef and cook dishes like this professionally. I love to make this and some new variation of it every Mother’s Day and this year the variation is Tortilla Española. The potatoes and onions are almost like a layer of home fries, the cottage cheese (this year, I’m loving Hood’s Cottage Cheese) and eggs are unctuous (and loaded with protein) and the crunchy chips add a tasty, mischievous note to the dish. Making a variation of my mom’s cheese soufflé is my tribute to all she shared with me about cooking and eating. I guess it’s a way of looking forward and looking back at the same time.”
Anne Burrell, host of Worst Cooks in America: Celebrity Edition on Food Network
“My mom used to make this yummy stuffed cabbage with meats, sausage, chopped ground beef, rice and braised in tomato sauce. Another dish she made was this amazing caesar salad that was eggless – every night in the summer we would go out to the garden and pick lettuce for it – the salad was so good because it was light and garlicky and lemony – we would beg for it every night!” said the celebrity chef.
This year for Mother’s Day, the menu will be a bit different. “I’ll be making my Balsamic Braised Brisket for Mother’s Day (and it’s also my mom’s birthday on Saturday) along with what we call potato pancakes – it will be for my mom and my sister because we are all sheltering together right now – and the kids are planning to make some type of special dessert!”
Molly Yeh, host of Girl Meets Farm on Food Network
“Growing up, I’d wake up to fresh coffee cakes and scones every weekend because my mom has a habit of waking up at 5 am and baking. For the longest time, I thought this was a normal thing that everybody’s mom did! My mom definitely passed down a love of baking to me (but not a love of waking up at 5 am!) and I can’t bake any scone or coffee cake without thinking of her. Inspired by my mom, I make a scone loaf that is particularly great because it’s made in loaf form, meaning it stays fresher for longer and you don’t actually have to eat it the day it’s made. So if you want to bake it the night before Mother’s Day and then sleep in, do it!”
Maneet Chauhan, restaurant owner, and judge on Food Network’s Chopped
Known for her role on Food Network’s Chopped, Maneet Chauhan says that Aloo Paratha (or potato-stuffed flatbreads) reminds her of her mother. It used to be a Sunday tradition while growing up in India: “I’d wake up in the morning to the sound of her rings hitting the wooden handle as she churned fresh butter and think ‘yes, we’re having aloo paratha!'”
Robert Irvine, host of Restaurant Impossible on Food Network
“When you take the time to put some love into a roast chicken dinner, to me that’s the best meal in the whole world. Chicken is a bit of a culinary blank slate, so if it turns out well, that’s because of the love you poured into the effort. My mom? She poured all her love into us kids. When I can cook her something like this, it’s a modest way of trying to return some of that love.”
Judy Joo, host of Korean Food Made Simple on Food Network
Judy Joo’s sweet memory is that of strawberry sundaes with whipped cream and chocolate sauce. “My mom would make the best ice cream sundaes and with fresh strawberries just in season now, it was so delectable too,” said Joo. “My mom would var