The endless hours between lunch and dinner are painful enough as it is—made even worse when you’re traveling and away from your kitchen. Whether you’re actually hungry or just need something to munch on to pass the time, tap into the food-oriented brains of some top chefs for their best snacking practices.
Don’t pack lightly
Stella Barra chef Jeff Mahin brings individual nut butter-honey packets, citing the protein and sugar combo as the perfect pick-me-up. But remember that if you’re airport bound, you’ll have to keep liquids to a minimum, which is why he also brings snack packs of trail mix. What else will you find in his carry-on? Dried meat. “I have a soft spot for beef jerky.”
Try the DIY lifestyle
Granola bars are generally delicious, and there’s no beating the convenience, but boxes of granola bars can get expensive. So, be like Mahin and make your own. He purées a mixture of soaked oats, almond milk, almond butter, raisins, cinnamon and vanilla, then boils it before letting it set in a baking dish.
Like Mahin, chef Brian Landry of New Orleans restaurant Borgne is a fan of beef jerky on road trips, specifically, the kind that’s homemade by one of his sous chefs.
Miss Lily’s executive chef Adam Schop makes a mean Chex mix, using pick-a-pepper sauce over Worcestershire for a Jamaican twist.
Find your inner junkie
Rule number one of vacation: travel calories don’t count. Schop says when he’s on the road, he craves Samoas, the classic Girl Scout cookie. And though nowadays Wu travels with KIND bars and other granola snacks, that wasn’t always the case.
“As a kid when traveling with just my Dad, we had many ‘breakfasts’ on trains consisting solely of pizza-flavored Combos!”
Mahin totes around snack-size packets of Nutella, a trick that “makes it easier to justify than eating an entire regular-size jar.”
Landry feels the same way, saying his guilty pleasure is a quality bar of chocolate. “Preferably with almonds or sea salt.”
Embrace the surroundings
While it’s tempting to try and bring all your favorite snacks from home, traveling is the perfect time to try new foods.
Though Landry always tries gulf seafood (“I love seeing what people in other parts of the country are doing with the product caught right at my back door”), he also likes to try different flavored potato chips like jamon, crab and octopus.
“I try my best to eat like the locals,” Wu says. That’s how he discovered—and fell in love with—Sino-Indian food while traveling in India.
Mahin agrees: “I like finding honest food in cities.” The roadside shack could end up being a hidden gem—maybe even your next travel destination itself.