Too Many Cooks

Too Many Cooks: Our Special Requests

February 12, 2016

Can I make you something special? is one of the most beautiful phrases to come out of someone else's mouth. And when someone asks—be it on our birthdays, a trip home, or "just because" (lucky!!)—we want to be ready with an answer. This week, we asked the team: What's the special meal that you request? Here's what's on the menu:

Photo by James Ransom

Micki: In my college days it rotated between chicken teriyaki, lasagna, and pot roast (or "stringy meat," as I called it). These days I don't really have a go-to dinner request, but I do ask my mom for a batch of birthday breakfast aebleskievers every year.

Liz: I always have a low-key craving for blue crabs. When I'm planning a visit back to the shore (which is somewhat rare), I always put in a request to the fam for a bushel of them, but it's never taken as seriously as I mean it!

Leslie: When I was five, I asked my mom for a bowl of Brussels sprouts instead of a birthday cake (she denied my request, but I believe we compromised on ice cream). I still hold Brussels sprouts near and dear, but since college, I've always asked her to make Okra and Sausage for my annual trip home. It's so simple and so, so good.

Catherine: Pancakes! Always pancakes. But that's for the mornings. For dinner, eggplant parmesan or a good hamburger.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“No one in my family know why she called it NY Special, or why she took 3 days to make it - a layer a day, but she only made it for specific people, on birthdays, upon request. Obvs, I was the favorite. ”
— skye

Meghan: Scrapple for breakfast! The best.

Ryan M.: Whenever I came home from college I would ask my mom to make chicken paprikash, but these days my wife has learned to make it better than my mom—sorry mom!—so I’m happy for any type of home cooking.

Lizzie: I love Ina Garten's broccoli and bow-tie pasta with lemon and pine nuts. Any time I go home, no matter what day it is, I ask my Mom to make it. I try making it myself and it never tastes as good!

Rebecca: You'd think I ate really well in college given the circumstances (I went to culinary school). But our meal plan was based around students serving students: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner were prepared by your classmates. Sometimes you got something amazing but, more often than not, you got someone's poorly executed experiment.

When I made a monthly trip home, I was happy with anything homemade, which of course stroked my mother's ego. ("Hmph! I'll show those CIA chefs how to cook if you want me to!") Mainly I'd request a juicy, dry-aged porterhouse steak (slightly overcooked—sorry Dad) and gnocchetti sardi with "red sauce."

Kaitlin: I always request steak when I go home. My mom is a grill master (despite being a vegetarian most of her life), and I rarely cook it or order it at restaurants. Oysters and cocktails for celebrations, and ice cream cake for birthdays.

Karl: For my birthdays: chocolate buttercream frosting on yellow cake—two layers!

Jovan: Prinsesstarta! Always and forever. It's been a staple request of mine since 2011.

Tim: When I go home, my mom asks me to cook. Womp, womp.

Kenzi: Me too, Tim. Or maybe I take over? That actually seems a little more likely. Sorry, Mom. (But hi: You make a killer potato salad.)

Olivia: Just one homecoming request: A pantry stocked with Utz potato chips.

What's your special request? Let us know in the comments!

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Isabelle Sackett
    Isabelle Sackett
  • skye
  • Jennifer Landis
    Jennifer Landis
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Writing and cooking in Brooklyn.


Isabelle S. February 17, 2016
Olivia, LOVE Utz potato chips, too! My parents grew up in MD and we lived there for a while before moving around. But anytime we go back to see my grandparents, we always ask them to buy them! :) SOOOO goooodd!!!
Olivia B. February 17, 2016
Yay! Utz are the absolute best. Nice to meet a fellow disciple :)
skye February 16, 2016
When my great-gram was alive, I would request 'New York Special' for my birthday, which I later found out was actually a pan of Nanaimo bars. No one in my family know why she called it NY Special, or why she took 3 days to make it - a layer a day, but she only made it for specific people, on birthdays, upon request. Obvs, I was the favorite.
Jennifer L. February 16, 2016
Meghan is clearly from Paris Dutch country.
Jennifer L. February 16, 2016
Or PA Dutch country ( darn spell check)
HalfPint February 12, 2016
Every trip back to my home state of Connecticut requires a lobster roll (CT-style please, dressed in melted butter, not mayo), fried whole clams, and fried dough (which seems to be a Northeast specialty. I get blank stares when I ask for it in Cali).
Niknud February 12, 2016
What's the mousse-y, brownie looking thingy on the cover image? Can I request that (or at least a link to that)?
Caroline L. February 12, 2016
it's this ice cream cake! (and it's very, very good.)