Chef's Choice

Chefs Call Out Foods That Should Be Retired From Menus

burger
Sara Norris/Thrillist

You're probably sick of hearing about how great kale is. But imagine how the chef in a restaurant feels having to prepare it all the time, but secretly wishing it could be retired forever, just like Kobe. Not the beef, the guy. Though some chefs probably are sick of Kobe beef, too.

To find out which popular foods need to be retired from menus, we spoke to chefs from all across the country for ingredients and dishes they're absolutely sick of hearing about. Sorry, kale. It's over.

burger
Drew Swantak/Thrillist

Beef burgers

"I would like to see commodity beef burgers retired and put more focus on some great healthy alternatives, such as bison, antelope, venison, and quinoa burgers. They have tremendous flavor and quality." -- Stephen Belie, Gateway Canyons Resort & Spa (Gateway, CO)
 

White-meat chicken

"It's not really our wheelhouse to judge people for what they want to order. However, people should stop asking for white-meat chicken exclusively. Dark meat contains more zinc, riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, vitamins B6 and B12, amino acids, and iron than white meat. And dark meat tastes better. Way better." -- Hari Kalyan, The Randolph (New York, NY)
 

Truffles/truffle oil

"Truffles! Simply blah! Truffles and truffle oil are getting old and played out. Plus, it tastes like my grandma's perfume. For your taters, try using beef fat or smoked olive oil." -- Damian Brown, TAKODA Restaurant & Beer Garden (Washington, DC)

"Contrary to popular belief, truffle oil doesn't make a subpar dish taste better. Just make a better dish!" -- Maneet Chauhan, Chauhan Ale & Masala House (Nashville, TN)

"Truffle oil is so old and tired and unenjoyable -- it simply serves as a buzz word to the unknowing." -- Anthony Jacquet, Claudine Kitchen and Bakeshop (Encino, CA)

"There's no value in it -- it's artificial flavor." -- Ben Pollinger, Oceana (New York, NY)
 

Fried appetizers

"I think people should stop ordering fried items for appetizers just because they are a 'comfort food' and familiar, and instead order lighter appetizers, or a couple of lighter tapas items, that creatively incorporate vegetables and other fresh ingredients, such as ceviches, guacamole, hummus, or salads. This also leaves more room, and a bigger appetite, for the guest to enjoy the main dish!" -- Guillermo Pernot, Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar (Washington, DC)

Avocado toast

"It's tiring to see everyone's Instagram feed with a million versions of the same thing. Why does every single restaurant need this on their menu? Do we lack that much creativity as a cooking community that this is all we can come up with? P.S. What are 'Totchos'? That word needs to retire before it starts." -- Sean Olnowich, Bounce Sporting Club (New York, NY)

"It's delicious, I get it, but it's quite honestly not that creative. And it can be done at home easily -- even for a non-cook. Let's stop charging people $15 for avocado toast with some tiny garnish on bread for brunch, and make us some real food we can't make well at home." -- Kathy Fang, Fang Restaurant (San Francisco, CA)
 

"Bánh mì"

"I wish restaurants would stop calling anything served on a baguette with slightly Asian flavors a bánh mì." -- Tory Miller, Graze (Madison, WI)
 

Marinara sauce

"It's part of the great misinterpretation and Americanization of Italian food. In America, marinara is used for dipping, which we never do in Italy -- it's not the intended purpose! And recently it's been used to smother other foods that were never meant to have red sauce, like arancini." -- Valentina Guolo-Migotto, Ca' Momi Osteria (Napa, CA)
 

Wine-glass desserts

"Think chocolate mousse in a chardonnay glass. It was cool when Duran Duran was hot. Not now." -- Kevin Humphreys, Spur Restaurant & Bar (Jackson Hole, WY)

Octopus

"Everyone loves octopus, but it has become the pork belly of the ocean." -- Todd Kelly, Orchids at Palm Court (Cincinnati, OH)
 

Stoner food

"Dishes that are over the top with fatty, spicy, over-seasoned, usually pork-overload, faux-ethnic flavors. These dishes are an injustice to the food. Instead of letting a meat or fish or vegetable shine with its true flavors, these types of dishes mask all the ingredients and smash the palate with overt obtuseness." -- Michael Hung, Viviane (Los Angeles, CA)
 

Anything in a bowl

"Stop serving every meal in a bowl; bowls are great for soups. Let's get back to eating with a fork, knife, and a plate." -- Tal Ronnen, Crossroads Kitchen (Los Angeles, CA)
 

Foam

"Foam. It's a lot of effort and show for little reward. I'd rather see chefs focus more on quality ingredients than cover great food with foams or gels." -- John Kunkel, Yardbird (Las Vegas, NV)

bacon
Drew Swantak/Thrillist

Bacon

"Bacon has been in everything and it's almost expected in confectionery -- there is even bacon underwear for goodness sake! I predict that bacon will be replaced with prosciutto, as prosciutto desserts are already making their way onto menus." -- Melissa Root, The Hairy Lobster (Portland, OR)

"I am totally over bacon in desserts. As a pastry chef, we often get asked to add bacon to things. Don't get me wrong, I'm down with the deliciousness of bacon. It's just been overdone and used heavy-handedly on most desserts that I've tasted incorporating bacon. In many instances, there is no regard for the amount of excess fat and salt bacon adds to a recipe. It often overpowers other nuances of flavor and texture, or just seems gratuitous. And, yes, yes, I love salty/sweet, but there are so many other cool, interesting combinations out there -- kelp powder, umeboshi plums, miso, tamari, olives, pickled fruits, and dozens of interesting salts add to the myriad of sweeteners.” -- Anne Croy, Pastaria (Clayton, MO)
 

Non-traditional pizza toppings

"I don't agree with pizzaioli or chefs that create Italian food with ingredients that aren't rooted in Italian culture. There are some ingredients that just simply do not belong on pizza. When we are talking about authentic Italian pizza, ranch sauce, pineapple, and chicken breast should be banned." -- Fabrizio Cercatore, Hot Italian (Davis, CA)
 

Poke, Spam, kale... take your pick

"Trends are funny and I do not agree with all of them. Here are a few that just need to go away. Marshmallows in savory food: please grow up. Next, bad poke -- under-chilled and too-sweet poke needs to stay home and allow for better tartars to remain king; I just don't like the cut. And Spam, really? Give me a break -- eat some real food please! Kale has to be retired. I see kohlrabi taking over soon." -- Rick Moonen, RM Seafood (Las Vegas, NV)

kale
Lee Breslouer/Thrillist

Kale

"The trendy ingredient I am most tired of serving is kale. It's a superfood, we get it, but when it starts popping up on McDonald's menus, it's over. When I first started working in kitchens, kale's place was as a garnish on the bottom of a platter for a banquet. It's practically a large-leaf parsley. It exists for aesthetics. Stop eating and drinking it. Stop pretending it tastes good!" -- Adam Steudle, Jasper's Corner Tap and Kitchen (San Francisco, CA)

"I'm probably going to be crucified here, but I'm electing kale. Yes, it's great for you, but everyone seems to forget about seasonality with trendy ingredients. Kale is great in the winter, and I'll gladly have a kale salad on the menu, but when summer comes around, I acknowledge that it's time to pull it off. There's nothing worse than forcing an ingredient on people when it's not at its best. Let's eat kale when it's delicious, and let it rest when it's not.” -- Alex Resnick, Picnic LA (Culver City, CA)

"We have a rule in our kitchen when making dishes: no chicken breast, quinoa, or kale. But I think kale is the trendiest. I don't like it because I think it tastes gross; people put it on their menu because of the 'healthy' stigma it has. I don't think things should be eaten because a group of 'experts' think it's healthy, especially if it tastes bad. I remember broccoli and frozen yogurt were the same way." -- Mark Nery, Onefold (Denver, CO)

"Kale, kimchee, and kouign amann are the three K's. As much as I love my greens (and health), kale has been the tired and prolonged 'Caesar' of our zeitgeist. With the discovery of hypothyroidism that kale has bestowed upon us, there came a dark storm of even more microtrends, like kimchee on everything. And for kouign amann, to be quite frank, people only like it because it sounds exotic. It's got such a deep history that no one knows about." -- Nico Sy, LUKE (Woodland Hills, CA)

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Lee Breslouer is a senior writer for Thrillist, and loves all these foods dearly. Follow him to eating the wrong things: @LeeBreslouer.