|Photo: Sarah LeTrent
But even though they possess adventurous palates and have the opportunity to try ingredients and dishes from far and wide, that doesn't mean they like everything they eat. They all have one or two foods that just don't do it for them, their own personal food Kryptonite.
Slashfood asked some of the country's top chefs which edibles top their "thanks, but no thanks" list.
The ubiquitous Rachael Ray is famous for transforming all kinds of foods into 30-minute meals, but she has a serious aversion to mayonnaise. "Mayo is a four-letter word to me and I avoid using it when I can. It's all about that texture. I even make a no-mayonnaise potato salad is perfect for picnics since you don't have to worry about spoiling."
As one of the original television chefs he, along with Julia Child, captured the hearts and kitchens of Americans with his gentlemanly approach to French cooking -- and he's a self-admitted "glutton." The only single food he can think of that he really doesn't like is coconut, though he also dislikes any food that is "dry, overcooked, tortured and/or fussy".
What turns off this French restaurateur extraordinaire? "Bananas!" he says. Which he admits sometimes causes a bit of friction when one of his pastry chefs come up with a new dessert featuring this Boulud-forbidden fruit.
As the longtime editor-in-chief of Food & Wine Magazine, Cowin has had the opportunity to sample pretty much every kind of food that there is, and she's an enthusiastic taster. This also means that she's well aware of what she doesn't like. "I don't like lots of organ meats that are dense and chewy and taste like blood -- chicken heart, for example. But maybe that's more understandable than my next biggest pet-peeve -- wet scrambled eggs. I just hate the texture and flavor of soggy, curdly, squishy eggs."
The celebrity chef is widely recognized for her dominance on "Iron Chef America," where she has had to confront all kinds of surprising ingredients. However, there are two items that turn her stomach. "I can't stand beef liver, and I don't want to be on the same planet as chitlins."
The matriarch of Italian cooking in America, host of "Lidia's Italy" on PBS, author and restaurateur has has two foods that confound her taste buds. "I just can not stand cilantro, to me it is like having a mouth full of soap when I eat anything with cilantro. Another thing that I just can not warm up to is sweet pickles. To me it seems like a contradiction. When I bite into a crunchy pickle, I expect it to be sour."
This lively television food personality star of the Food Network Show "Viva Daisy!" has a culinary contradiction. "I am a big fan of organ meats, and I was the only kid in my family that danced with delight when my mother made liver! But I have to say that kidneys are my personal Kryptonite. When I made them in culinary school, I had to taste them (after having cooked them) in front of my chef instructor, and I broke out into a cold sweat! They didn't even taste bad, but I was so dead set against them that I was ill for two days afterwards!"
Host of Food Network's "Sandra's Money Saving Meals," Sandra Lee, names two foods that are barred from her kitchen. "One food that I find flavorless and unappealing is lima beans. I dislike all lima beans -- canned, fresh or dried because of the starchy and grainy texture. Another food that I do not like is sweetbreads, which comes from the thymus gland or pancreas of a young calf, lamb or pig. Even when cooked properly, sweetbreads tend to be rubbery with a strong flavor and velvety texture. I find that when plated, the shape of the meat is unappealing and unappetizing."
Chef and restaurateur Donatella Arpaia, judge of Food Network's "The Next Iron Chef" has one meat that is a huge turn off. "I just cannot take the smell of lamb. I have had distaste for it since I was a child. My mother would make lamb every Easter, and she would tell me it was something else to make me taste it! I have such a deep, offensive reaction, it just turns me off. However, on last season's 'Next Iron Chef' I ate lamb for the first time since I was a child and was able to judge it in terms of how it was cooked."
The host of "Alex's Day Off" had to think about this question for a while, but in the end pointed to the produce aisle. "I am happy to report that finding an answer to this question was surprisingly difficult! I can't stand shredded carrots. There's nothing wrong with them; they never did anything to me and yet if I see them, even one single shred, mixed into a salad, I can feel my heart rate quicken and my taste buds shrivel in disgust. I don't like green bell peppers, and I don't like raw onions. They are too abrasive and obliterate other flavors. They also linger on your breath."
Founder of Harvest Eating, and dedicated locavore has some aversions that many people can relate to. "I am absolutely opposed to anchovies and liver -- the smell of either of them can almost make me sick. One night while I was a line cook at a country club the executive chef had liver and onions as a special. I threatened to quit and refused to cook it. He complied and changed the dish!"
The Season five winner of "The Next Food Network Star" and host of "Ten Dollar Dinners" in has finally embraced lamb, but one type of cheese cannot win her over, no matter how hard she tries to embrace it. "I used to have two things I didn't eat -- goat cheese and lamb. I just didn't like the taste, which is odd, because I love really strong flavors usually. Give me a stinky cheese and knife and I'm happy. Well, my husband is from a small village in Provence where goat cheese and lamb are flagship items. He has converted me on the lamb front. I'll eat it now but goat cheese -- not yet. He is so set on the notion that if I could only taste the right goat cheese, I would love it. We have an agreement: I try goat cheese for him once a year. Seven years, seven tries, and so far -- I still don't like it."
As for this writer? Red meat is just not for me; the taste, the texture -- it's all unappealing to me. I didn't like it even as a kid, and stopped eating it altogether when I was 12. Strangely, I don't mind cooking it for others, but other than bacon, which is closer to potato chips than meat in my mind, red meat is off the list."
Katie Workman is Editor-in-Chief of Cookstr.com. Read what chefs had to tell her about their guilty pleasure foods.
Got a food on your no-no list? Share it in the comments below.