chef and owner of Fahrenheit
Greenhouse Tavern's buttered popcorn pot de crème ($7)
"It's that one treat I will allow myself to have," says Whalen, who lost about 85 pounds while on the Food Network show Fat Chef. Greenhouse Tavern pastry chef Matt Danko steeps popcorn in the milk that is used to make the pot de crème. "You know it's good when you see duplicates in other restaurants," Whalen says.
executive chef at Rockefeller's
Phnom Penh's cabbage salad ($5.15)
"When I wake up and I'm hungry, it's the first thing I think of," Vedaa says of the crunchy dish filled with fresh green cabbage, red onion, green peppers and Thai basil. "What really makes it stand out is the garlic sauce dressing. It's got a kick to it, but it doesn't overwhelm the dish."
chef and owner of Flying Fig
Lucky's Cafe's ( ) breakfast burrito ($12.25)
"I'd eat this every day if I could," Small says of the egg-filled burrito, which is baked in a casserole and served with a side of hash browns. "The eggs are so fluffy it's almost like a soufflé. The guajillo pepper sauce is spicy and deep. The combination of flavors coaxes out all the complexities of the dish."
executive chef at Pier W ( )
Chinato's ( ) fried baby artichokes alla giudea ($10)
"I don't know if people realize how food can play a part of enjoying someone's company," says Reik, who loves sharing this dish with his fiancée. "If you want to have a great meal, start with this. The flash-fried artichoke leaves are mixed with tomatoes, garlic and olive oil. It's so full of flavor with so few ingredients."
( ) Denotes Silver Spoon 2012 Award winner