Season 14 of Top Chef kicks off on December 1, and the rookie and returning Cheftestants are ready to dazzle with mystifying ingredients and over-the-top techniques. But have you ever wondered what these culinary professionals like to snack on when nobody's watching (or judging)? While some of it leans cheffy (hand-cut fries!), a lot of the guilty-pleasure snacks are the same ones you're probably into—and buying at your local convenience-store-slash-gas-station on a regular basis.
1. Jamie Lynch
This New York native admits that Sour Patch Kids are his junk food of choice. The executive chef and partner at 5Church Group oversees three restaurants in the South and balances his passion for fine French cuisine with his deep-seated need for mouth-puckeringly sour candies.
2. Jim Smith
It probably won't surprise you that a Southern guy like James (Jim) Whitfield Smith III calls pork cracklins' his top choice. When he's not snacking on those, or appearing on Top Chef, Jim is the executive chef of the State of Alabama, responsible for all the daily meals consumed by the state's First Family.
3. Gerald Sombright
It's hard to argue with Gerald's favorite snack: hand-cut fries. As the head of the culinary team at the Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort and the chef de cuisine at Ario, Gerald is typically found in sophisticated culinary settings, but he understands that sometimes there's just nothing better than a fried potato.
4. Emily Hahn
"Ice cream: I cannot live without it," Emily said of her favorite treat, which she loves to share with her dog (yes, seriously). In 2015, Hahn was named one of Charleston’s “Rising Star Chefs” by Food & Wine magazine as well as Eater Charleston’s “Chef of the Year.” This Charleston, South Carolina-based chef began her career in Richmond, Virginia and has since worked up and down the East Coast. Her love of ice cream though? That's remained constant.
5. Sheldon Simeon
This man's idea of a junk food party is a McDonald's Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese, a Big Mac, large fries, a 20-piece Chicken McNuggets box with sweet and sour sauce, a fried apple pie, and a large Coke. No, we're not kidding, and he even punctuated that monumental-level junk food order with "BOOM!" We're betting much of America agrees with this Hawaiian native and Maui Culinary Academy alum.
6. Casey Thompson
"Cheetos and Haribo gummy bears, duh!" Seriously, that's the response we got when we asked Casey about the most drool-worthy snacks on earth. We're not even arguing, because there's something undeniably cool about orange fingertips and lips, and who can resist biting into a chewy gummy candy? Currently based out of Napa Valley, California, this Fan Favorite from Season 3 in Miami is a pro at pairing great wines with food. And now we're wondering what the right match for Cheetos might be...any thoughts, Casey?
7. Brooke Williamson
Brooke can't pick just one junk food passion, because there are so many good ones to choose from. Depending on her mood though, you might find her noshing on donuts, instant ramen, dark chocolate peanut butter cups, or orange chicken. Her love of combining flavors makes sense though, because this Top Chef Season 10 alum recently debuted her fifth concept, a fast-casual Hawaiian restaurant called Da Kikokiko in Playa Vista, featuring three of Hawaii’s most popular street foods: shave ice, poke and musubi.
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