The Mentors of America's Best Cook Share Their Favorite Eats

America's Best Cook mentors Alex Guarnaschelli, Cat Cora, Michael Symon and Tyler Florence dish about their favorite eats on The Best Thing I Ever Ate.

Alex Guarnaschelli

Alex Guarnaschelli is the chef of Butter restaurant in New York City. On America's Best Cook she represents the North. Here are some of her favorite foods from around the country.

Yukon Gold Potato Pizza at Five Points in New York City

You don't normally think of potatoes as a pizza topping, but this pizza at Five Points breaks all the rules, says Alex. What you get is "thin slices of potato on the crust, cheese and a little bit of white truffle oil." She says, "There's a whole complex world lurking underneath."

Watch the Video: Alex Guarnaschelli's Best Eats

Gratin de Macaroni at Vin Rouge in Durham, N.C.

Alex says this macaroni gratin at Vin Rouge "just embodies the kind of cooking I like to do myself." The recipe is classic French, starting with a bechamel of Gruyere cheese and including housemade bacon. It's baked in a pizza oven and brought to the table "percolating with life."

Watch the Video: Alex Guarnaschelli's Best Eats

Cheese Souffle at La Goulue in Bal Harbour, Fla.

"How many foods do you know that bring ooze like cheese?" asks Alex. The best cheese dish for her is the souffle at La Goulue. She calls it "cheesy, oozy goodness at its best." It's homey, rich and light, but no matter how hard you ask, the restaurant will not give up the recipe.

Watch the Video: Alex Guarnaschelli's Best Eats

Golden Delicious Apple Tart at Al Forno in Providence

Alex says she "heard Beethoven's best symphony full blast" as soon as she saw this simple apple tart for the first time at Al Forno. The tart is briefly baked with apples sliced extra thin, which helps them retain a perfect "al dente" bite. It's serve with creme Anglaise.

Watch the Video: Alex Guarnaschelli's Best Eats

Cat Cora

Cat Cora is the chef of Kouzzina in Orlando, Fla. She represents the South on America's Best Cook. Here are some of her favorite dishes.

Lobster Pot Pie at Academe Maine Brasserie & Tavern in Kennebunk, Maine

"I grew up on chicken pot pie, so to make it with lobster," says Cat, "that's, like, over-the-top." In Maine it's become a classic dish at Academe. The lobster is poached in cream with fresh vegetables and topped with from-scratch puff pastry. The first bite is the best and it's "jam-packed with lobster meat," say Cat.

Watch the Video: Lobster Pot Pie

Spicy Sweet Potato Fries at Beano's Cabin in Avon, Colo.

"Food does not have to be complicated to be great," says Cat. Simple foods like these sweet potato fries at Beano's Cabin in Beaver Creek Resort are irresistible, and even Cat admits she can't bake them better herself at home. But you can only get to the restaurant by sled, skis or on horseback. 

Watch the Video: Sweet Potato Fries

Grilled Diver Scallops at The Ranch House in Ojai, Calif.

Cat discovered this dish when she first moved to Santa Barbara, Calif. The scallops are hand-picked by divers. They're grilled delicately and served on top of curried fresh corn. The spicyness of the curry combined with the sweetness of the scallops and the corn "really brings it together," says Cat.

Watch the Video: Grilled Diver Scallops

Lemon Icebox Pie at Crystal Grill in Greenwood, Miss.

Cat calls the lemon icebox pie at the Crystal Grill "a slice of lemon heaven." She says that no matter how full you are from dinner, "you're going to finish that pie ... and you might even take a bite of your neighbor's." It's made with sweetened condensed milk, egg yolks, lemon juice and a graham cracker crust.

Watch the Video: Lemon Icebox Pie

Michael Symon

Michael Symon is the chef of Lola Bistro in Cleveland, Ohio. On America's Best Cook he represents the North, which encompasses Midwestern cuisine. Here are some of his best eats from around the country.

Spicy Pork Rinds at The Publican in Chicago

Self-proclaimed porkaholic Michael calls the pork rinds at The Publican "the perfect fried food." They're served in a large paper cone, sprinkled with Espelette pepper, malt vinegar powder and cheddar cheese powder –– "a magical combination," says Michael. The restaurant makes them from scratch.

Watch the Video: Michael Symon's Best Eats

BBQ Beef Ribs at Daisy May's in New York City

"My favorite thing about barbecue is actually eating it," says Michael, because "it makes you feel like a viking." The brontosaurus-size beef ribs at Daisy May's are unlike anything he's seen before. Chef Adam Perry Lang moistens the meat with flavored water before putting on the spice rub and slow-smoking them.

Watch the Video: Michael Symon's Best Eats

Hot Dogs at Happy Dog in Cleveland

"For the American classic that tops all others," Michael recommends the hot dogs at Happy Dog. Chef Eric Williams cooks the dogs on the griddle and serves them in poppy-seed buns. You can choose from 50 homemade toppings, but Michael takes his with chunky peanut butter, Sriracha and Alien Relish.

Watch the Video: Michael Symon's Best Eats

Pasta Tasting Menu at Vetri in Philadelphia

Michael loves pasta "in all shapes and sizes," so much that he'd make it his last meal. And his preferred place to eat it is Vetri. Michael calls Chef Marc Vetri's pasta "breathtakingly perfect." His ideal dish is the ravioli stuffed with beets and served with tarragon sauce, but he'd gladly eat any of their pasta dishes.

Watch the Video: Michael Symon's Best Eats

Tyler Florence

Tyler Florence is the chef of Wayfare Tavern in San Francisco. He represents the West on America's Best Cook. Here are some of the best dishes he's experienced.

Kumamoto Oysters at Hog Island Oyster Co. in San Francisco

"If I could eat only one thing for the rest of my life," says Tyler, "it would be raw oysters." He's that obsessed with oysters, but not just any kind: Tyler loves the Kumamoto oysters available at Hog Island Oyster Co. The company grows its oysters in Tamales Bay.

Watch the Video: Kumamoto Oysters

Salumi Cone at Boccalone Salumeria in San Francisco

Chris Cosentino is leading the charge of the salumi revolution on the West Coast at Boccalone. For his salumi cone, customers can choose three different meats from capocollo, guanciale, lardo, prosciutto, pancetta and lonza. Tyler calls pork "the Holy Grail of ingredients."

Watch the Video: Salumi Cone

Pollo al Forno at Barbuto in New York City

Tyler thinks of Barbuto chef Jonathan Waxman as "the master chicken guy" because his chicken is the best –– even better than his own. The oven-roasted chicken is served with salsa verde, which has capers, garlic, herbs and anchovies. "It makes me cry, it's so good," says Tyler.

S'more Pie at Buckeye Roadhouse in Mill Valley, Calif.

Tyler thinks the s'more pie at Buckeye Roadhouse takes the campfire favorite from childhood to a whole different level. Chef Robert Price makes it with a graham cracker base, chocolate, toasted almonds and a marshmallow meringue topping.

Watch the Video: S'more Pie

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