Live the Fantasy: 17 Chefs Share Their Dream Diners

As diners, we spend a lot of time thinking about the chefs whose cuisine is on our wish lists. But, what about chefs? Surely they have folks they’d like to see grace their dining rooms. In that spirit, then, 17 chefs share their dream diners, from artists and prominent businesspeople, such as Action Bronson and Richard Branson, to famous chefs, past and present, like Auguste Escoffier and José Andrés.

Tim Maslow, Ribelle, Brookline, Massachusetts: Lamont Coleman, a.k.a. Big L
“Not because I know if the man loved to eat or not, but because of the short-but-prolific career he had that so many of our cook-generation can identify with. I would want to thank him for making me feel like less of an outsider and that it’s permissible to blaze trails outside the norm.” “A hard core life I toast to ex flaw, therefore I live raw and went to war wit the law.” – Big L, “Bring ‘em Back”


Carl Schaubhut, Café Adelaide, New Orleans, Louisiana: Chef Jamie Shannon
“The late chef Jamie Shannon has rock-star status in my world. He changed the way cuisine in the great city of New Orleans was executed. He truly put haute Creole food on the map during his tenure at Commander’s Palace in the 90s, and I remember growing up and loving eating the food at such a wonderful, fun, exciting restaurant. He was also one of the earliest local television chef personalities that I recall. So much of his influence runs through the DNA of everyone who has cooked in Commander’s kitchen or has been taught by a chef that has been there. I’d love to prepare charred jalapeno-lacquered confit duck leg over a citrus-white bean puree with crispy Brussels sprouts, bread and butter pickled beets, bacon-onion jam, spiced New Roads pecans, wilted frisée, and duck crackling. It’s a very complex dish with layers of flavors that all harmonize into a beautiful celebration of a beloved Louisiana bird and great legumes and produce.”


Suzanne Tracht, Jar, Los Angeles, California: Peter Frampton
“My dream diner would be Peter Frampton. Just like JAR, Frampton is all about nostalgia and good times. You might not think of Peter Frampton every day, but when “Baby I Love Your Way” comes on the radio it’s like – BOOM! – the volume dial immediately goes to 10 (ed. note: or 11!), and you’re singing, “But don’t hesitay-ay-ay-ate….” Jar reminds people of a swinging Rat Pack steakhouse; Peter Frampton reminds my generation of the fun days of high school in the mid-70’s. Because Frampton is a strict vegetarian, and my restaurant is famous for its steaks, chops, and pot roast, you might wonder what I would cook for him. But the truth is I have so many ideas. Depending on the time of year, I would go to the farmer’s market to choose an array of the most beautiful in-season organic vegetables. I would compose a dish with some gnocchi and let my creative juices flow.”


Zach Meloy, Better Half, Atlanta, Georgia: Elvis Presley
“All of Presley’s food loves were completely over the top: fried chicken crusted in ground-up potato chips, Jell-O made with 7-Up, fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches. Hillbilly haute cuisine … seems like something that’d be fun for an evening. I’d imagine you’d leave with more than one amazing story.”


Tyler Kinnett, Harvest, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Chef Auguste Escoffier
“This might be a little out there into fantasy and time travel, but I would like to cook for Auguste Escoffier. The other day, Brian, the executive pastry chef at Harvest, and I were talking about Escoffier, who is sort of the father of modern cooking and is responsible for much of the technique that we use today. His recipes are ultra- complicated and have a scroll of an ingredient list involved. They are very time- consuming and technical, and many of the flavors are masked with 10 others, which back then was considered impressive. I would like to see what he would think of the simplified modern cuisine that we have today. Would he think we were hacks and simpletons? Or, would it make sense? I would serve him our summer tomato soup with a mini prosciutto-and-gruyere griddled cheese sandwich. Mainly because my recipe has about five ingredients and actually tastes like tomato.”


Jeremy Glover, Ceia Kitchen + Bar, Newburyport, Massachusetts: Lemmy Kilmister
“Lemmy Kilmister is pretty iconic in the metal world — he’s the lead singer in Motörhead. I think I’d serve him a pig head, roasted whole, no silverware, and a fifth of Jack Daniels– he likes Jack.”


Diane Kochilas, Molyvos, New York, New York: Bill Clinton/George Clooney/Tina Fey
“There are so many people I’d like to cook for, but here are a few that come to mind – Bill Clinton, because he’s vegan and Greek cooking (and our menu) has some of the most amazing, delicious vegan dishes in the world, which show off that perfectly incongruous Greek culinary characteristic of food that is both healthy and indulgent. Then there’s George Clooney, so I’d have the impetus to go on a diet before serving him! Lastly, Tina Fey because her maternal grandmother was Ikarian, and I would relish in serving her those Ikarian greens pies and telling her stories that might actually make HER laugh about the island and where her ancestors are from.”


Jon Oh, Scarpetta, New York, New York: Anyone who serves or has served in the armed forces
“These people deserve all the respect in the world. Their sacrifice is something that should never be taken for granted. In terms of dishes, I’d start off with the polenta with a fricassee of truffled mushrooms, then go into our spaghetti. For me, those two dishes are like a big, warm hug.”


Jay Murray, Grill 23 & Bar, Boston, Massachusetts: Dave Eggers
“As a once-aspiring writer, I am at least still an avid reader, and I can’t say enough good things about Dave Eggers. Two of his works – What is the What? and Zeitoun — are among my all time favorites; I devour anything out of McSweeney’s; and his two literary non-profits are visionary in how they successfully create opportunities for those who might never had them otherwise. I do know that Dave hails from a pre-Grill 23 Boston (hard to believe, but there was a time…), and spent most of his life between the Chicago and San Francisco Bay areas. So, what does that mean? Well, nothing, except that, I’m hoping he’s not some kind of non-meat eater; steak is probably a good bet. But, Chicago, you murmur. Sure, Chicago’s the land of Gene & Georgetti (great garbage salad, by the way), and Gibsons, and San Francisco has no shortage of amazing dining experiences. But neither has the 100-day aged Brandt prime rib eye. So, Dave, ship up to Boston, or just hop on a red-eye, and check this steak out! I’ll throw in some truffle tots and miso-glazed eggplant while you’re here, and you cannot miss Molly’s desserts.”


Troy Guard, TAG Restaurant, Denver, Colorado: Jon Bon Jovi
“My dream diner would be Jon Bon Jovi – I just think he’s the coolest! He came out in the 80s, and he’s still selling out 20,000 seats 30 years later. I love his music and how he’s changed over time – adapting his look, music, and songwriting. He’s innovative, he’s a family man (did you know he married his high-school sweetheart and has four kids?), he’s a smart businessman, he gives millions to charity, and he’s a big advocate in politics. He’s just the coolest guy. I would make him a menu of our bold and tasty dishes – oak-grilled octopus, heirloom tomato salad, hanger steak, and banana cream pie. We’d talk all night about business, politics, and rock n’ roll!”


Juan Carlos Gonzalez, SoBou, New Orleans, Louisiana: Chef Eric Ripert
“Le Bernardin’s chef and co-owner Eric Ripert was my inspiration to pursue my culinary career. I’d make him our bluefin tuna and foie gras slider with foie gras fondue on brioche toast. The first dish I learned how to plate in the garde manger station in his kitchen was tuna payard. I like that he likes to combine tuna and foie gras in one dish. I’m a huge fan of that combination.”


Anne Pettry, Decca, Louisville, Kentucky: Chef José Andrés
“My dream dinner guest is José Andrés, hands down! To be in the presence of his enthusiasm would be a dream come true. His infectious energy is an extraordinary inspiration to me. Just to hear him wax poetic about even the simplest ingredient is electrifying; the colors, smells, and tastes come alive. Serving him at my table would be a tremendous honor. I wouldn’t try to impress him with unique flavor combinations and techniques. I would find the ripest most delicious fruits and vegetables that are in season and highlight their flavors as best as I can. For example, on our menu right now, we have milled tomato linguine with charred tomato, ricotta salata, sesame, and mint, a simple and delicious fresh pasta dish that showcases the tomato at the peak of its season.”


Gerard Craft, Niche, Clayton, Missouri: Richard Branson
“The more time that passes as a restaurant owner, the more that I appreciate the great business leaders of our time, both inside and outside of the hospitality industry. Branson has always pushed the boundaries in multiple industries but especially in the hospitality space. We try to do the same at our restaurants — constantly challenging our team to think differently — especially at Niche, our modern Missouri fine dining restaurant. I’d want to showcase our chef’s tasting menu from Niche for him…in outer space, of course.”


Justin Shoults, BRINE, Newburyport, Massachusetts: Action Bronson
“I always thought it would be cool to cook for Action Bronson, the now famous rapper. He was a chef in New York City before he began his music career and always raps about food and cooking terms. I feel like he would get and respect delicious, well-made food, and it would probably be really fun to hang out while cooking for him. On my current menu, I would probably make him the BRINE lobster bake, with butter-poached lobster, little neck clams, spicy seafood sausage, corn fritters, summer legumes, roasted Yukon gold potatoes, and caramelized corn. The dish is badass, large, and full of flavors and textures — something I feel like Action would appreciate.”


Molly Hanson, Grill 23 & Bar: Shep Gordon
“I recently watched Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon, and I just loved it. Mr. Gordon has led such an interesting life managing rock stars and creating the celebrity chef movement. I respect the risks he took in his career, as it made for some great stories. I wish I could hear even more stories from his crazy life. I would serve him Grill 23 & Bar’s profiteroles: the rock star performance of our dessert menu, it features housemade coffee ice cream in freshly baked profiteroles. It has both vanilla-bean caramel and candied almonds. Finally, it is drenched in chocolate sauce tableside by the server.”


Simon Purvis, EDGE Restaurant, Denver, Colorado: Annie Lennox
“I have a soft spot for Scottish women (my wife is from the highlands of Scotland). Lennox has had an amazing career and has always pushed herself to be the best over the years. She is such a creative, talented lady. I would recommend that she and her guests try our 32-ounce Wagyu tomahawk and few other great sides, like my English bubble and squeak. For dessert, I would serve my English sticky toffee pudding, a guest favorite since our opening, followed by a tour of our state-of-the-art kitchen. I would absolutely enjoy having her in our restaurant and showing her the true hospitality that we offer all of our guests in EDGE.”


Viet Pham, Ray’s and Stark Bar, Los Angeles, California: Auguste Escoffier
“Of course I would love to cook for Auguste Escoffier. He is the epitome of French cuisine and what I have been studying my whole career. I would love to make a modern haute twist on a peach Melba, which Escoffier invented in 1892.”


If you’re a chef or just an avid home cook, who would you most like to cook for? Tell us here or over on FacebookG+InstagramPinterest, or Twitter.