Chefs' Picks: Pancakes with Tropical Twists, Updated Grains and Maximum Fluff

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Chefs’ Picks tracks down what the pros are eating and cooking from coast to coast.

For many Americans, breakfast pancakes mean mixed-from-a-box, syrup-slathered basic stacks. Not for chefs, though. Whether they’re peaches and cream, vegan or gluten-free, here are some of the top hotcake combinations from the pros, just in time to mix for Mother’s Day. 

Tropical Tastes

Known for his seasonal New American fare, John Creger, chef of Fair Weather Bushwick in Brooklyn, likes to give his griddle cakes a tropical twist. His Put the Lime in the Coconut Pancakes are, he says, “gluten-free and so, so good.” Aiming for a light and fluffy cake, he mixes coconut powder and coconut flour for the base. He tops those tasty cakes with sweet lime ricotta, coconut butter, toasted coconut and fresh mint.

Updated Grains

After a night of stoking the flames at his fire-inspired outdoor restaurant Fireside by the Patio in San Diego, Chef Antonio Friscia likes to leave breakfast to the folks at another San Diego place, The Great Maple. He loves their cult-favorite honey-buckwheat pancakes topped with blackberries. “I love the combination of the distinctive spicy-malt flavor in the honey and buckwheat mixed with the fresh, tart blackberries on top of the classic pancakes,” he says.

Vegan Versions

Before converting to a plant-based diet, Anne Thornton of Little Pine in Los Angeles was known for her comforting pastries at New York City’s posh Waverly Inn and on her show Dessert First. Now even her favorite pancake recipe is 100 percent cruelty-free: vegan orange-poppy seed-granola pancakes with strawberry syrup and a coconut whipped cream made with soy milk, vegan butter and flax eggs.

More Fluff

Ian Boden, chef-owner at The Shack in Staunton, Va., is another chef who likes to take a break from cooking when he’s breaking the fast. His go-to is the massive, fluffy BFP from his friend Harrison Keevil’s Brookville Restaurant in nearby Charlottesville. “The Big Fluffy — or expletive — Pancake, depending on your definition, is a monster one, and the texture is great.” Boden says. “It gets a nice crust on both sides, and the middle is like an angel food cake, which is not an easy feat when a pancake is that big.”

Local Ingredients

Focused on Colorado ingredients at his restaurant, Gateway Canyons, Chef Stephen Belie doesn’t stray from his local ethos when it comes to cooking at home. He likes to make Palisade peaches-and-cream pancakes. He tops his gluten-free cakes with maple syrup and butter-sauteed peaches, candied pecans and creme anglaise, putting a local twist on the classic. “This is one of my favorite dishes,” he says, “because it utilizes a key resource to the region and allows me to support our local farmers!”

The Great Maple photo courtesy of the 5-footer.