If you're a regular reader of Extra Crispy, you'll have noticed by now that breakfast tends to conjure an awful lot of emotion and nostalgia in people in a way that perhaps lunch does not. Lunch food and dinner food can often be swapped for one another, but breakfast food in particular is extremely tethered to a time, and often a place. It's the way you enter a day, and when you're far from it, you long for it. Who would understand that better than a chef? Food is how they frame their world, so it's no surprise that when we asked a few of them at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival to describe the breakfast that they find themselves pining for, they didn't hesitate for a second.
Marcus Samuelsson, chef/owner of Red Rooster and author of Marcus Off Duty
When I travel in India, it just makes sense to me because it's last night's stew, which is always good. That's what breakfast should be. You think of the French "petit dejeuner" and breaking your fast with leftovers. Then you swerve to fit your culture.
When I'm in Singapore, the first thing I'll do is have Indian breakfast. In Singapore, you have Chinese cooking, Indian cooking, Arab cooking, but they're always eaten at different hours of the day. Indian food in Singapore is a breakfast meal. I love Indian breakfast, and there's a derivative in Trinidad that's also Indian breakfast called doubles. That's my favorite breakfast. You can get it in New York, but no. You've gotta be on the island. The double is special.
Seamus Mullen, chef/owner of Tertulia and author of Real Food Heals
I grew up on a farm in Vermont and we had a woodshed that eventually we converted into a smokehouse. We had our own pigs so we made our own bacon. We made it with the rind on, super-smoky, and frying it up in the pan, the rind would get super crunchy. I still dream about that bacon. I've been looking for that ephemeral bacon memory since childhood and I get close, and I'm sure I've had some bacon since then that now in hindsight is much better than the bacon of my childhood but the nostalgia of burping the smoke out of the smoker and seeing the pig bellies hanging in there from the pigs that we raised. That was really something special.
Ming Tsai, chef/owner of Blue Ginger and host of Simply Ming
That's easy. I used to live in Paris, right after college. I studied engineering and during the summers, I'd go to Paris. I went to Cordon Bleu my junior year summer and I'm like damn, the French can cook, too? Up to there I'd cooked in my mom's Chinese restaurants, and I'm like wow, this French food is amazing. I immediately came back for that summer before senior year and sat my parents down. It wasn't a shock when I told them I didn't want to be an engineer, I wanted to be a chef. My mom stood up and gave me a huge hug and told me how lucky I was at such a young age to already know my passion, just promise to give 110% and we'll support you 100%. Just so cool. I look at my dad who's sitting there much more pensive and he says, "Son, you weren't going to be a very good engineer anyway. Go cook."
So I'm in Paris and every morning I'd get a freaking crepe with egg, jambon-fromage. That was it. Boom, two eggs cracked, they fold it, it's the best Egg McMuffin ever. Every morning.
Andrea Reusing, chef/owner of Lantern and author of Cooking in the Moment
I love warm fish and warm rice, Japanese breakfast. Pickles for breakfast with some kind of warm starch and some kind of fish is the greatest thing to me. It varies a lot. There's the famous/infamous natto which is a fermented soybean thing that's incredibly bad it's bad and incredibly delicious if it's good. But I think the Kyoto one is the most homey. They have crispy fish skins sometimes, Kyoto has the best pickles—rice bran pickles that are so delicious, pickles with sake lees—the most variety of pickles at breakfast. And I love starting the day with soup. At home my grossest thing is that I heat up a mug with chicken stock in the microwave and that's how I start my day.
Adam Richman, host of Man Finds Food and author of Straight Up Tasty
There are so many. Mother's Bistro & Bar in Oregon, Pancake Pantry in Nashville, Deluca's Diner in Pittsburgh, The Broken Yolk Cafe in San Diego, Nicollet Island Inn in Minneapolis, Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC, The Friendly Toast in Portsmouth, Urth Caffé in Los Angeles, and The Waldorf Astoria in New York City all have unbelievable breakfast dishes. Truly amazing. I honestly don't know if I could pick just one, but I'm sure it's some kind of eggs Benedict dish.