Proud Papas

by The Culinistas

Father’s Day is around the corner and we’re warming things up with some heartwarming family tales from our nearest and dearest in the culinary industry. We asked them what special meal always reminds them of their father or special figure in their life, or, to tell us about the one special meal they always make for their own kids.

Their answers (and photos) did not disappoint. 

Danny Meyer, NYC restaurateur and founder of Union Square Hospitality Group

“I first became obsessed with carbonara when I was 10 years old and my dad made it for my “dinner party” birthday sleepover. I felt very adult knowing about the fact that carbonara referred to the peppercorns. Even if I use a different method than he did then for mantecare-ing the noodles (he put hot noodles in a cold bowl with egg yolks, cheese, pepper, and pork fat; I usually do the saucing in a still-warm pot), I owe him my love for carbonara.”  

Lior Lev, chef and owner of La Boîte 

“One of the best childhood memories is going fishing with my father for trout in the Dan River in the Galilee. We cooked the fish over a fire near the banks of the river. I sadly cannot do it with my two boys in NYC but our favorite thing to do together is to bake challah. We make it on Fridays and the boys have it for breakfast and the rest of the week for their school lunch.”

Brendan Fallis, creative entrepreneur & curator 

“My dad has always made the world’s best pancakes. He doesn’t have a secret ingredient, but rather a secret technique he uses that make the pancakes fluffy and delicious. I’ve since mastered the technique and will be serving up Sunday pancakes to our new fam soon!”

Michael Toccin, Stylists to a T 

“My father has Italian roots. Anything with a red sauce is up his alley. My daughter, Liv, is a big fan of pasta and also loves chicken. Everything is chicken and pasta. The Italian side must run strong through the whole family.”

Mike Zapata, owner of Ample Hills 

“Every Sunday I make french toast and bacon for our boys. It’s a great way to start Sunday Funday for our family. The sweetness of the syrup and saltiness of the bacon go well together. If we had a little bit of spice in there it would fully describe our boys as they are full of life. We love it.”

Joe Gurrera, owner of Citarella 

“Our family is close and we always spend our holidays together. I am really looking forward to spending Father’s Day with them after being apart last year and for so many holidays through the pandemic. Honestly, being together is what I will enjoy most. Typically, we have a few of my favorites like Wellfleet oysters on the half shell, whole grilled local porgy, sautéed soft shell crabs, and maybe indulge in some fritti — merluzzo, calamari, shrimp. And, of course, some Don Julio tequila would be nice, too.”

Jake Kalick, president and co-founder of Made in Cookware 

“I’d say the meal that reminds me most of my dad is Chinese cuisine in general (everything from dim sum to Chinese bakeries). We grew up within walking distance of Boston’s Chinatown and he’d bring our family there every chance he’d get (including his big 70th birthday party). It also holds a special place in my career because my family’s (restaurant supply) business really got its start in Boston’s Chinatown, as well, building and outfitting restaurants there.”

Greg Arnold, chef and founder of Dark Horse Organic 

“When I was a small boy, I spent a lot of time with my grandfather, who was born in Japan. He used to cook breakfast and lunch for me on the weekends and these were some of my most favorite meals I can remember. He cooked in a very Yoshoku style, which is a mixture of traditional Japanese ingredients and American ingredients and condiments. I hope to pass all of these dishes down to my son, River, and hope he loves them as much as I did and finds them as delicious, strange and unique.”