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)
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)