17 Celebrity Chefs And Their Favorite Fast Food Restaurants

Celebrity chefs can't spend all day cooking, even if it's their passion. Sometimes, after a long day in the kitchen or on the road signing cookbooks, nothing sounds better than a monumentally cheesy burger or a handful of spicy tacos. To be honest, the majority of the celebrity chefs on this list went with burgers. The few outliers chose chicken fingers, tacos, or maybe even grilled cheese. But In-N-Out burgers, mostly animal style, came up more than anything else. Maybe because they're West Coast celebs or maybe because those burgers are easily the best. Who's to say?

A few of our chefs chose items based on nostalgia, citing memories of visiting those chains in their childhood when they were just learning to appreciate food, especially good-old fashioned comfort food away from home. Not only that, chefs are often tired, busy, or on the road, but still don't want to compromise taste just because they're not cooking at the moment. It's safe to say that they're often just as passionate about their fast food picks as they are about anything else they're eating.

Kristen Kish loves Arby's curly fries

If you're familiar with the delightful TruTV show "Fast Foodies" (and you should be if you're into recreating your favorite snacks at home), then you'll already know that host (and "Top Chef" winner) Kristen Kish is an actual fan of fast food. While some celeb chefs will begrudgingly admit that a decent fast food burger is possible, Kish is down with quick and easy meals. 

Her snack of choice on the road? Arby's curly fries and chicken fingers. Even Kish admits that part of the appeal of her go-to fast-food order is nostalgia and comfort. But she also says that she'd never try to recreate those incredible curly fries on the show, because why mess with success? Kish also feels that chicken fingers and fries shouldn't be just on the kid's menu, and we couldn't agree more.

Gordon Ramsay's go-to is In-N-Out's Double Double burger

The first of (many of) our celeb chefs to choose In-N-Out, Gordon Ramsay champions their Double Double burger. Double all the good stuff, like beef patties and cheese, with onion, tomato, and slathered with their secret sauce. Ramsay's favorite fast food order sustains him on the road when he can't whip up something drool-worthy in the comfort of his own kitchen. 

Ramsay can come across as a little bit, well ... harsh? But his joyous love of an animal-style Double Double burger is well-known. Also well-known is his reputation as a bit of a fitness fanatic, but Ramsay will occasionally reward himself after a marathon training session in the gym with a couple of his favorite staple snack items. He seems to love that the staff recognizes him and gives him a few little extras to eat, too.

Tyler Florence likes his In-N-Out burger Animal Style

Tyler Florence, like Gordon Ramsay, is another enthusiastic eater who also chose In-N-Out as his first choice destination for a quick and fully craveable bite. Again, the choice is super relatable, as In-N-Out was rated 2022's favorite burger chain in a survey by Market Force Information. Over 5,100 customers were surveyed and our celeb chefs' preferred spot scored 80% in overall customer satisfaction, so it makes sense that it continues to come up in this list. Florence, a relatable aficionado and purveyor of all-American food, knows a thing or two about burgers. So it should be no surprise that he cites that particular comestible as one of his favorites and In-N-Out is at the top of his list, like so many other celeb chefs. 

Chocolatier Jacques Torres adores Shake Shack burgers

Sometimes, celeb chef Jacques Torres has to compromise with his young kids when they all want fast food at the same time. Torres admits that Shake Shack is always his first choice, but his kids are die-hard McDonald's McNugget lovers, so he often ends up eating where they want to go. But, according to the chef, foregoing his favorite fast food place and letting his kids win the burger battle is more important to him. He'd rather spend time with his family, no matter what they're eating. When he does get a chance to visit the Shack on his own, the chocolatier is a classic burger fan all the way, loving it from the smashed patty to that divine special sauce. Want the recipe for that special sauce? Your wish is our command.

Popeye's biscuits are J. Kenji Lopez-Alt's secret for perfect breakfast sandwiches

One of the only chefs on the list who didn't pick a burger as their favorite fast food option, J. Kenji Lopez-Alt opts instead for Popeye's biscuits. Lopez-Alt has loved the chain's biscuits for a while, but not just for munching on in the car when hunger strikes. He uses the biscuits as his go-to bread for breakfast sandwiches. Since the chain restaurant doesn't offer breakfast, it seems like the perfect way to fill that void. Lopez-Alt wraps a biscuit in foil and reheats it before filling it with a fried egg, bacon, and a slice of American cheese. The flaky biscuits are reputed to have a recipe that's as closely guarded as Kentucky Fried Chicken's spice mix, so they must be good.

Danny Meyer can't choose between Chipotle or Popeye's for his favorite quick meal

You might be surprised to find out that Danny Meyer's first choice isn't Shake Shack. Meyer, chef and restaurateur, happened to open Shake Shack over a decade ago. But when he's looking for something quick and easy, it's not always his first stop. When pressed for an answer in an interview, Meyer told The Real Deal that he's actually torn between Chipotle and Popeye's for quelling the desire for something fast and super tasty. He then goes so far as to say that he'd even alternate between the two for optimal satiety. That proclamation was in 2012, and things may have changed since then, however. In 2021, Meyer's company invested loads of money into Tacombi, a Chipotle-style taqueria. Fast food cravings are one thing but business is another, right?

In-N-Out's Animal Style was a favorite for Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain was known for being forthright when it came to both his opinions on food and the human experience, so we assume he definitely wouldn't mince words when it came to what he liked ... or didn't like. So it's easy enough to believe that when he said he liked In-N-Out, he truly meant it. In fact, he went as far as to say that it was actually his favorite restaurant in Los Angeles — a town, he easily admitted, that is full of great restaurants. Not only that, but he was also a big fan of ordering his burger animal style which adds extra Thousand Island dressing and pickles, plus a second delectable mustard-grilled patty. Bourdain had no qualms about eating anywhere and everywhere, saying that he often followed the crowd, according to Today.com, whether he was dining in Ghana or L.A.

Andrew Zimmern prefers Culver's over any other burger

Culver's, a true mid-western American gem, is beloved for butterburgers, frozen custard, and all the deliciousness that Wisconsin cheese has to offer. Andrew Zimmern is a fan, even if they don't offer wild game or any of the so-called bizarre foods that he's based his career on. The burger chain appeals to families because they serve approachable and delicious food, but it also placed fourth in a nationwide poll of millennials' favorite fast food chains (via Restaurant Business). Score one for frozen custard! Zimmern, who actually isn't a fan of In-N-Out unlike most of our other chefs, feels that Culver's dominates because of the fresh approach of the franchise. In his interview with CBS, the chef lovingly expounds on how everything arrives fresh and none of the ingredients ever overstay their welcome in the kitchen. 

Ina Garten always makes an exception for In-N-Out burgers

When we said that In-N-Out burgers were a big hit on this list, we weren't kidding. Not only does the Barefoot Contessa occasionally pick one up when she's in California, but she also admits that she was inspired by Julia Child, according to People. Garten always stops for one when she's in the state on a book tour and freely says that if it was good enough for Child, she doesn't feel like it could possibly be all that bad. And who's to argue with Julia Child? Garten goes on to say that Child was one of her inspirations and role models in the kitchen and the culinary world in general. After cooking your way through the works of either culinary doyenne, you might want to treat yourself to a feast of In-N-Out burgers yourself.

Grilled cheese with grilled tomatoes from In-N-Out is David Chang's fast food choice

Another In-N-Out fan, Momofuku's David Chang strays from the norm with his regular order. Instead of a burger, Chang goes for a grilled cheese with grilled tomatoes. But don't lose faith in humanity just yet, because he does still order it animal-style, according to Quartz — grilled onions, pickles, and extra sauce in case you've forgotten. However, Chang also loves In-N-Out because it's a perfect spot to watch the employees manage working in a joint that's continuously busy. He cites it as a terrific example of staff working as a team for the best customer service possible. However, in an interview with Vulture, Chang did have disparaging words about the fries, citing frozen potatoes picked at their peak as the way to go for perfect Frenchies every time. Try ordering your In-N-Out fries "well-done" for extra crispiness; they'll be double fried and never soggy.

In-N-Out burgers inspire French Laundry's Thomas Keller

Those never-frozen potatoes that David Chang lamented above are also the reason that you'll likely never see an In-N-Out on the East Coast. That's because the owners stipulate that every franchise is located within a day's drive from the distribution center because, again, nothing is ever frozen. It arrives fresh and is used immediately. So if you've been waiting to try Thomas Keller's favorite burger but you live on the other side of the country, you're going to have to plan a delicious road trip. From what we've seen, that trip is worth it. Keller has stated that not only does he love their food, but the burgers have also inspired him to open a burger restaurant of his own. The French Laundry chef has even used the iconic fast food joint's offerings for an item in his own restaurant.

Sheetz' meatball sub is Duff Goldman's fast food snack of choice

Duff Goldman might be most well known for his gorgeously fantastical cakes, all decorated to the max, but man does not live by bread — or cake — alone. When the charming Charm City chef needs something with a little more sustenance than cupcakes, he pulls into Sheetz' for a meatball sub. The East Coast convenience store and gas station prides itself on its fresh, made-to-order sandwiches and Goldman is here for all of it. According to an interview with Yahoo, he's an enormous fan of their "bizarrely huge beverage selection." But more importantly, he loves the meatball sub in a huge way. The cake-centered chef adores the doughiness of the bread and the extra tasty sauce. He's also revealed that a tier of his wedding cake was made of meatballs, so he knows his stuff.

McDonald's is Paul Hollywood's No. 1 choice

Paul Hollywood, or the Mahogany Tiger as we affectionately call him, has claimed on more than one occasion to crave salt as a remedy to all the carb-loaded sweets he has to sample at work. The long-standing "Great British Bake Off" judge does get paid to consume everything turned out by the many seasons worth of contestants on the show. While the show has recently expanded to include a few more savory offerings in the judging tent, some viewers found his judging technique to be overly fussy. While he might pick the contestant's burgers apart with a fork, on the road, Hollywood pulls into McDonald's drive-through specifically for a Big Mac and fries. Although he admits to loving fast food, McDonald's is his go-to on the road.

Curtis Stone reaches for tacos when he craves fast food

Curtis Stone says that fast food isn't exactly his top choice, but the Aussie chef has admitted that tacos will occasionally make it into what he typically eats in a day. He says that he generally eats everything, but doesn't crave burgers from chain restaurants all that often. When he wants fast food, he will make a stop for tacos. Working in a professional kitchen, Stone spends much of his day cooking, and tasting dishes is a big part of that. While he prepares and eats breakfast with his kids and often has a midnight snack, the rest of the time he's eating at work. But, like so many others on this list, he also admits that he's been a fan of In-N-Out since being introduced to it by his wife.

Whataburger is Aarón Sànchez's top fast food pick

Finally, let's get to the part of the list where In-N-Out is no longer the gold standard. Let's start with Aarón Sánchez, the celebrity chef from "Iron Chef America," "MasterChef," and "Chopped" to name a few. He's also the executive chef at Johnny Sánchez, a Mexican restaurant located in New Orleans, meaning that he's steeped in the culture of the South. A big part of that culture is the burger chain Whataburger, which he claims is the best fast food available. As a native of El Paso, Texas, he grew up with Whataburger and stands by it because it has a truly Texan touch — the special sauce. Instead of mayo mixed with ketchup and relish, Whataburger's secret sauce is mustard-based, which appeals to those craving a little heat instead of sweetness.

Arby's and KFC are Justin Sutherland's ultimate combo

Another "Fast Foodies" star (they do know their stuff, after all), Justin Sutherland also spent some time showing his mettle on "Iron Chef America" and "Top Chef." So it's safe to say he understands food. But his time on "Fast Foodies" is what has really shown him how the business of quick eats really works and how much effort goes into all those particular items. After trying to recreate so many famous chicken nuggets and burgers, Sutherland developed a new appreciation for the drive-through. In his new cookbook, he blends food and culture, but in his off time, he's a master of blending fast food. First, a beef and cheddar from Arby's. Next, he picks up his second ingredient from KFC — its gravy for dipping that sandwich into. Now that's something we can get behind.

Richard Blais craves Chipotle for something spicy

Richard Blais might have started his illustrious career at McDonald's, but it didn't really dampen his enthusiasm for fast food. Coming of age in the golden years of frozen and microwaveable convenience foods, Blais ate his way through it all before discovering the good stuff. After all that, he still has a soft spot for fast food, namely Chipotle. Not just for its food, but because Blais also lauds the chain as having a sound business model, making it even tastier (we assume). He names Chipotle as his favorite because it offers a taste of something different from traditional American burgers and fries, or the pasta dishes that he often serves at home. For Blais, Chipotle just happens to fill a void at his family table when they're all craving food with loads of flavor and spice.