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Highbrow Chefs Reveal Their Favorite Lowbrow Snacks From Bodegas

By Heidi Patalano | February 3, 2014 7:01am
 Some of New York's hottest chefs discuss what they buy from their corner stores.
City Chefs' Favorite Bodega Snacks
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NOLITA — They whip up the city's most delectable and trendsetting meals on a nightly basis, but even top chefs admit to indulging in the simple charms of the city's ubiquitous bodegas.

From a greasy bacon, egg and cheese on a roll, to the sometimes-dicey produce selection, creative chefs say they're not above noshing at their corner store.

Here's what the city's foodies recommend from bodega counters and shelves:

Chef: Jesse Schenker
Restaurant: Recette
Neighborhood: West Village
Known for: Grilled Cobia cucumber “kimchi” crema, chili and mizuna
Bodega Eats: “A Ham & Cheese Lunchable. It's an all-in-one meal, protein, a cracker for crunch, and a little dessert. If you are lucky, you'll find the ones that come with a juice box.  Satisfies my inner kid.”

Chef: Chris Santos
Restaurants: Beauty & Essex, The Stanton Social
Neighborhood: Lower East Side
Known for: Nicoise-style tuna au poivre with wax bean and tomato salad, hearts of fire, black olive salt, sweet pea aioli
Bodega Eats: "I'd wipe them out of peanut butter and crackers. Peanut butter is one of the greatest things you can ever put in your mouth, it has lots of protein, and the crackers are a nice delivery system —typically low-fat and add that crunch to PB's creaminess and they are like, to paraphrase a comic, 'little edible plates.'"

Chef: Bryce Shuman
Restaurant: Betony
Neighborhood: Midtown
Known for: Seared foie gras served in a ham-hock consommé
Bodega Eats: "I go straight for a bag of honey-roasted peanuts and a banana."

Chef: Joey Campanaro
Restaurant: The Little Owl
Neighborhood: West Village
Known for: Herbed swordfish, parsnip, sweet and spicy escarole
Bodega Eats: "Lipton noodle soup. It reminds me of my mother taking care of me when I was sick as a child."

Chef: Rob Newton
Restaurant: Seersucker, Nightingale 9
Neighborhood: Carroll Gardens
Known for: Duck breast with pork jowl perloo, morel mushrooms and burnt sorghum
Bodega Eats: "We're lucky that our corner bodega, Las Americas on Court and Nelson, is great. I would get an avocado — they almost always have a ripe avocado or two on the counter for sale — flour tortillas, lime, pepper-Jack cheese, and then I would go deeper in where I know they have jalapeños. I'd also pick up some Sam Smith British lager and maybe a Mexican Coke. Once I got home, I'd make a sexy little quesadilla. The only downside about Las Americas is they close at 11 and I'm usually starving around midnight."

Chef: John Stage
Restaurant: Dinosaur Bar-B-Que
Neighborhood: West Harlem, Gowanus
Known for: Giant spice-rubbed and pit-smoked chicken wings
Bodega Eats: “The bodegas near me always have good deli sandwiches. My go-to is turkey, ham and Swiss cheese. The meat is usually Boar’s Head, the roll is serviceable and the $2.50 is outstanding! It’s my late night go-to.”

Chef: Danny Brown
Restaurant: Danny Brown Wine Bar and Kitchen
Neighborhood: Forest Hills
Known for: Short rib agnolotti with truffled beef stock, foie gras mousse and celery root purée
Bodega Eats: "Bologna and American cheese on Wonder Bread with French's mustard. Guilty pleasure. My dad was into health food growing up and I wasn't allowed to eat that stuff."

Chef: Hung Huynh
Restaurant: CATCH, The General
Neighborhood: Meatpacking District, Lower East Side
Known for: Grilled octopus with chorizo, crispy potatoes and sofrito
Bodega Eats: "I would eat eggs and a protein shake, and beef jerky. All are great sources of protein."

Chef: Akhtar Nawab
Restaurant: La Cenita
Neighborhood: Chelsea
Known for: Chile relleno with picadillo, apple, epazote-tomato broth and goat cheese
Bodega Eats: "I'm assuming this is my only option because an apocalypse is imminent and my last meal would have to be from a bodega. If that were the case, I guess I would get all the ingredients for a Frito pie: chips, pickled jalapeños, cheese, salsa, beans for protein and chili. If the world didn't end as scheduled, it would for me after that."

Chef: Ralph Scamardella
Restaurant: TAO Downtown
Neighborhood: Chelsea
Known for:  Wagyu rib-eye teppanyaki with a selection of dips and sauces
Bodega Eats: “There is a great bodega near my house that makes the best authentic Mexican tortas. It’s a typical Mexican torta on a floury roll — light and crispy, toasted with a little butter — it’s made with pernil, oaxaca cheese, poblanos, sliced avocado and a little grilled tomatillo salsa.”

The Bacon Egg and Cheese Club
These chefs agree that the allure of a greasy breakfast sandwich never fades.

Chef: Laurent Tourondel
Restaurant: Arlington Club
Neighborhood: Upper East Side
Known for: Dover sole "modern meunière" with preserved lemon, capers and fresh herbs
Bodega Eats: “I love bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches from my bodega. Sure, oatmeal or a granola bar would be a healthier option, but there’s nothing like a hot breakfast sandwich. The combination of textures with just the right amount of butter on the hard roll makes them irresistible. They’re so simple, yet so delicious.”

Chef: Richard Kuo
Restaurant: Pearl & Ash
Neighborhood: Nolita
Known for: House-made bread with chicken butter (fresh-churned butter and chicken fat), served with maple syrup
Bodega Eats: "My go-to is the bacon, egg and cheese. I am a creature of habit and I will eat the same thing day and night when it is consistent."

Chef: Michael Ferraro
Restaurant: Delicatessen, MacBar
Neighborhood: Hell’s Kitchen, SoHo
Known for: Pan roasted chicken thigh sandwich with cerignola olive pesto, sweet pepper aioli, burrata cheese
Bodega Eats: “I would have to go with a bacon egg and cheese on a hard roll from my local bodega. The mornings I get them, the aroma of bacon gets me as soon as I walk in the door."