For years we’ve been watching them broil, chop, bake and judge. We've followed their recipes, listened to their culinary tips and admired their ability to whip up meals that can be described as works of art. And while chefs are notoriously adventurous in terms of cuisine, even the biggest names in the industry have their dislikes and limits.
Food: Goat Cheese
Goat cheese, or chévre (the French word for goat), is cheese made out of the milk of goats. While goats milk is a common choice for people who have a low tolerance for cow’s milk, Melissa d’Arabian, television host, cookbook author and mom of four, has absolutely no tolerance for the cheese produced by this milk. “I’m not a cheese wuss by any stretch,” she states. “I once ate a Sicilian cheese with maggots! But goat cheese—no way. It tastes the smell of a manger!”
Otherwise known as Chinese parsley or coriander, this green leafy culinary herb with the distinct sage-citrus flavor can garnish chicken, fish, pork and rice. But none of these facts interest Fabio Viviani of Bravo’s Top Chef: Allstars and author of Fabio’s Italian Kitchen: Over 100 Delicious Family Recipes. “I’d rather get punched in the face than eat cilantro!” states the Italian chef.
Bailey’s Irish Cream
This popular Irish whiskey and cream based liqueur is an ingredient in numerous coffee dessert beverages, such as the Mudslide and the Nutty Irishman. However, Australian chef Curtis Stone, host of Bravo’s Top Chef Masters, chooses to avoid any drink made with this alcohol. “I don't have fond memories from my first encounter with Bailey's,” he admits, “so since then, I've steered clear of it!”
It’s no secret that food—whether it be its taste or smell—can hold many powerful memories, tracing all the way back to our earliest years. And while some of the memories can evoke feelings of warmth and comfort, others…well, not so much. “Sometimes you can't shake a picky childhood food preference and this one has stuck with me for life!” admits Kelsey Nixon, host of the Cooking Channel series Kelsey’s Essentials. “I refuse to eat cream cheese unless it's sweetened and found in some form of frosting.”
Movie Theater Popcorn
Last year, a study funded by the University of Scranton, in Pennsylvania, claimed that one serving of plain popcorn contains about twice as many antioxidants (polyphenols, a plant-based chemical) as the average fruit. But movie theater popcorn with “butter” is another story—and a frightening one at that, says Rocco DiSpirito, author of Now Eat This! Italian and host of the AOL series Now Eat This! Italy. “It looks and smells like a lot the stuff that's in my car's crankcase,” says the New York Times best-selling author. “Come to think of it, why are so many theaters right next to a quick lube garage? Coincidence? I don’t think so.”
Anything with Eyes
Devin Alexander, The Biggest Loser’s healthy comfort food chef, doesn't want to see her dinner looking at her. “I don’t eat anything that looks back at me!” says the host of America’s Chefs on Tour. “I’m sorry, but fish filets only, thank you!”
Cake king Buddy Valastro, owner of Carlo’s Bakery, cannot stand liver. “It’s something about the consistency and just the taste itself,” states the host of TLC’s Cake Boss. “My brother-in-law loves to make it, but I always pass. More for everybody else, right!” Ditto, says Kelsey Nixon. “I won't eat liver because I think your food should look as good as it tastes -- and liver sure isn't a looker!”
Fast Food and Junk Food
While there’s nothing wrong with grabbing food-on-the-go, it’s the type of food you grab that can make all the difference, say these two chefs. “I think you can get better tasting food from nature,” states Curtis Stone. “A meal with tons of preservatives and chemicals is not the best thing to put in your body.” Rocco DiSpirito agrees. “I avoid almost all junk food, especially old junk food. But then again, it can't be stale if it was never fresh in the first place.”
Vic Rallo, author of 21 Wines and host of Eat! Drink! Italy!, has already had enough instant Ramen in his life. “I climbed Mount Rainier in Washington State and everyone was eating Ramen noodles,” remembers the New Jersey restaurateur. “Its stench stunk up the tent, and to this day, even seeing the package makes my hair stand up!”
A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.