Being a Top Chef contestant can be grueling and exhausting and crazy fun. When we're all wiped out from nonstop competition, we do what we do best: eat good food. Some of my most memorable meals with those talented chefs involved banh mi, traditional Vietnamese sandwiches that layer cured meats, sausages, and pickled vegetables in small, soft versions of French baguettes. I love anything with pickles and fresh cilantro! I've put those flavors in a burger patty here and sandwiched them in my favorite French roll: buttery brioche. The rich bread makes all the difference, as does high-quality pork.
"It's sort of a funny thing for me to say as a restaurant chef, but my advice to my sons and to everyone is to cook at home at least most of the time," says chef Cal Peternell, author of Twelve Recipes.