Dining Chicago

Restaurant Chefs Dish on Their Favorite Halloween Candies

Halloween is almost upon us, and visions of fun-sized candy bars, Kit Kats, gummies, and pumpkin-shaped *insert any food here* are dancing through my head. Though let's be real with the fun-sized candy bars for a minute. There's nothing fun about shrinking a delicious candy bar down to microscopic proportions. Tragedy-sized candy bars more like it. But that's a debate for another day. Nowadays, chefs are indulging us with their favorite Halloween candies. Just because they make gourmet food all day does not mean they're immune from the refined sugary glory of Halloween candy. Whether they still eat them today or they're merely fond memories, here are several chefs' favorite Halloween candies.


For the same year every year until roughly the age of 10, Carrie Nahabedian of NAHA and Brindille relied on a big plastic pumpkin to contain her Halloween candy loot. After trick-or-treating, her ritual was to go home and empty her pumpkin with friends to decide which house had the best candy, who gave out the big candy bars, and which cheapskates doled out fun-sized nonsense. "The 'good' candy would last a few days. The bottom-of-the-barrel stuff would last until my mom would get tired of seeing it and throw it away," says Nahabedian. The "good" stuff meaning Hershey's and Reese's. The candy ritual continues to this day at NAHA. Nahabedian's aunt brings the staff about 20 lbs. of various Halloween candies, and they even stock some in the front of the restaurant for trick-or-treaters. "It lasts forever and everyone gains more weight than they care to and complain, but secretly they love being a kid again for Halloween." Aww.


Nahabedian's pastry chef Craig Harzewski has always been a sucker for spooky sugar as well. His Halloween experiences were especially interesting, given that his mother would actually make costumes for him and his siblings each year. He didn't discriminate against any candy, but his favorites were (are?) M&M's, Skittles, and Nerds.


Speaking of moms making costumes, Toni Roberts' mom made her a costume that won her a contest. It's fitting that the pastry chef of State and Lake Chicago Tavern would dress as a giant bag of jelly beans, made with a clear garbage bag filled with balloons. As for her favorite Halloween candy, she says she's always had a soft spot for mini Snickers. I'll let the "mini" part slide since she is so crafty with costumes.


Moms making elaborate costumes must be a thing, because Stephanie Samuels of Angel Food Bakery has similar recollections. Her most memorable mom-made Halloween costume was a giant pumpkin made out of Dixie cups stapled together, covered with orange paper, and an oatmeal container painted green and placed over her head for the stem. Even though it prohibited her from sitting down, that didn't stop her from hording as many Tootsie Rolls as she could.


Costumes and candy are still a favorite at the case de Jill Barron, executive chef of MANA food bar. Her particular craving is Kit Kats, and you can bet she takes advantage of the candy season by stocking up on bags in orange, white, and brown colors. Who knew there was so much thought that went into Kit Kat purchases?


Junk candy is all well and good for Patrick Fahy, pastry chef of Sixteen restarant, but he preferred the more creative, more unique items. He liked orange Sno Balls and cookies with orange frosting. Basically, only give him baked goods with orange or forget about it.


"Like any kid, I looked forward to Halloween and all the candy that came with it," says Sandra Holl, pastry chef/owner of Floriole Cafe & Bakery Chicago restaurant . Her favorite: the 100 Grand Bar.


 

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