“Pop” Culture & the Secret Diet of Chefs

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It’s probably no secret that most Chefs have somewhat of a schizophrenic diet.

Fueled by coffee, ongoing tasting, small bites of this and that, more coffee, an occasional rushed meal of whatever is at hand and then, perhaps an “adult beverage” to wash it all down at the end of the day, many chefs don’t even feel comfortable sitting down at a dinner table for a lengthy meal.

Especially when chefs are in a “fine dining” establishment, their head is on a swivel, they’re “antsy”, can’t seem to stay engaged in any conversation that isn’t about food and you can definitely tell that they’d feel more comfortable standing while they eat, than sitting.

For chefs and cooks who’ve worked in a fine dining establishment and who are surrounded with the all the foods that come with it (from prime steaks and seafood to foie gras and caviar), a great burger, a deep dish pizza or even a simple sandwich are things you crave when you’re not “at work”.

For me, it’s popcorn.

I loooove popcorn. It’s my “Pop” culture.

Popcorn gives me a reason to live and justifies a microwave oven in my kitchen.

Granted, that without popcorn in my life, my seat cushions would be clean, I wouldn’t get hulls stuck in my teeth and my cholesterol would be 25 points lower, but I’m willing to deal with all of this for the sake of those first, warm, slightly buttery, slightly salty and COMPLETELY delicious morsels of airy corn goodness.

But there’s something about popcorn that’s schizophrenic too. It tastes better when you’re hungry, when you’re at the movie theater, and any popcorn is good when somebody else makes it. Even if they burn it a little…

Especially if they burn it a little.

For me? I’m not a movie kinda guy. It takes a GREAT movie to lure me into a theater so I don’t get to see popcorn in its “native habitat” very often. As such, I have to hunt for the “domesticated” species most often found lurking in the “grocery aisles”.

I have 2 favorites, both at nearly the opposite end of the “pop” charts. They are:

Pop Secret® Homestyle™….This is my Go-To favorite. Fluffy, white, very light nuances of butter, lightly salted, not heavily cloaked with anything that tastes artificial. This popcorn tastes good from the 1st to the last bite.

Then, there is the “dark” side…which I discovered at, of all things, a Ford dealership while I was awaiting service, but it probably could just as easily have been discovered at a home improvement store or anyplace where the smell and taste of popcorn draws customers like “moths to light”.

Gordon Food Service®, a Mid-West food distributor, sells bulk popcorn, buttery oil and the garishly yellow buttery seasoning salt in their GFS Marketplace stores. Granted, you have to buy a pretty big bag of popcorn and a gallon of oil but it’s pretty cheap and if you want the smell, and more important, the taste of “movie theater” popcorn about as cheaply as you can make it, this is your “ticket”.

And personally, although I love popcorn, I’m not a big fan of all the crazy toppings or seasonings that mask the true flavor of the corn unless we’re talking Caramel Corn, which is a WHOLE other discussion entirely.

Looking for a great beverage to go with your popcorn? I myself have to give my favorite Bourbon “Knob Creek” the nod. It’s “mash bill” (recipe) of better than 51% corn itself just seems like the perfect complement to popcorn.

When I gave Nino’s Sommelier Jennifer Laurie her “pop” quiz, she (understandably) had a couple of wine choices she recommends, like: Chandon Riche Extra Dry California Sparkling, Helfrich Pinot Gris from Alsace & Chime California Cuvée Pinot Noir. And I have to agree that “sparklers” have an affinity for popcorn.

For more info check out: How Popcorn Got its POP!

So, who’s your “Pop”? What popcorn fills your bowl?