Love It or Hate It

Guess Which Ingredient Chefs Say is the Most Overrated

It starts with a T. Runners-up include the notorious B, A, and K.

If you eat at restaurants on a regular basis, or if you keep up with food media even a little bit, chances are you've got your own list of the ingredients you're tired of hearing about, tired of eating, tired of seeing. And you wouldn't be alone. Chefs get sick of certain foods too, really sick of them, and they consider some of the most overhyped, overused ingredients out there totally overrated.

As Eater got ready to announce the up-and-coming chefs who've made it to the semifinals round of its annual Young Guns list, it gave them a chance to vent about the foods that just aren't all that. The ingredient with the most haters? Truffles. 

Jamie Tao, sous-chef at New York City's hot Wildair, gave a succinct answer: "Black truffle. Smells alright. Tastes like cardboard." Maya Lovelace of Mae in Portland, Oregon, elaborated a bit more: "I don't get as excited about truffles or foie gras as most cooks I know...I think people use these ingredients to feel like what they're doing is special or fancy, or to attract people... but if you don't know how to use them, you shouldn't be ruining them." 

Truffles and truffle oil made other chefs' overrated list too, but other ingredients took a beating also: Believe it or not, avocado is on the list—specifically when used in desserts or in the beloved/dreaded avocado toast. A handful of chefs chose an ingredient that will shock some: bacon. "It stinks. It's messy. It's everywhere; salads, sandwiches, brussels sprouts. Enough," said Heather LaVine, co-owner of Lucas Confectionery and Peck's Arcade in Troy, NY.

Lobster? Yup, it's on there. "Crab is far superior. Or any other seafood. Except tilefish. That's garbage," said Maximillian Petty, chef and owner of Eden Hill in Seattle.

Then of course there was the inevitable K word. Daniela Soto-Innes, the chef de cuisine at NYC's Cosme, didn't offer any explanations or qualifiers. Just a one-word answer: kale.

Is your favorite food on the overrated list? Check out the full list of two dozen-plus ingredients, and the chefs' rationales, on Eater.

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