Chefs share ideas for breakfast at night

The next time you find yourself guiltily scarfing a bowl of cereal instead of sitting down to dinner, take heart: Sometimes, even chefs do it.

Well, only a few of the dozen we talked to for this story admitted to resorting to cereal, although one said his family sometimes indulges in an evening cold-cereal buffet. But on the general subject of eating breakfast for dinner, there was wide consensus -- and plenty of ideas for nonprofessionals to try.

"Who doesn't love breakfast for dinner?" asked -- in separate interviews -- both Brian Howard, executive chef of Comme Ca at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, and Adam Crisafulli, executive chef of the LEV Restaurant Group, which owns Lobster ME, I Love Burgers and Daily Kitchen & Wellness Bar.

"I believe it's inevitable, especially in this town," said Yvonne Maatouk, corporate executive chef for PBR Rock Bar & Grill in the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood Resort.

Part of the reason, they agreed, is that their schedules tend to mean many late nights.

"It's something quick, easy, never a fail," said Todd Harrington, executive chef of Central Michel Richard at Caesars Palace.

"Sometimes I'm not off until 2 in the morning," Maatouk said. "That just happens to be what you crave."

"Just to eat at the same time as the rest of the family, you end up with breakfast at lunch or dinner," said K.C. Fazel, executive chef of Tender at Luxor.

Some have family approval, but not all.

"My husband isn't the biggest fan," said Christina Olivarez, executive chef of Diego at the MGM Grand.

Crisafulli said breakfast for dinner is one of his 13-year-old son's favorite things. Anthony Meidenbauer, corporate executive chef for Block 16 Hospitality, which owns Public House, The Barrymore and LBS: A Burger Joint, said he and his wife discuss in the morning what they'll be having for dinner that night.

"She said to me this morning, 'We're having breakfast, what do you want?' " Meidenbauer said. "She makes these really awesome breakfast burritos."

He said his family tends to have breakfast for dinner on evenings when they're on the run, such as to his daughter's softball game, because it's quick and easy. But like most of the chefs we spoke to, there's no scrimping on nutrition or flavor.

A lot of times, Crisafulli said, they'll have homemade waffles, with fresh berries he's brought home from the farmers market, and orange juice freshly squeezed by his daughter.

"It's something for the kids to do," he said. "They like cutting the oranges up and squeezing them themselves."

Waffles are a good starting point, the chefs agreed, but they won't be asking anyone to Leggo their Eggo.

Chris Fearnow, executive chef at Green Valley Ranch Resort, said he's expanded somewhat on a chicken-and-waffles idea his daughters brought home from a friend's house.

"They actually put the chicken into the waffle batter and cooked it into the batter," Fearnow said, "so you have all those flavors -- maple syrup, sweet and savory -- going on together.

"You realize you can put anything into a savory waffle and have that for dinner as well."

Crisafulli likes to cook turkey bacon and turkey sausage and put them into the batter for Belgian waffles.

"Then when the batter is still loose, I drop a couple of drops of maple syrup throughout the waffle," he said.

Then he'll cook eggs to each person's liking and make waffle sandwiches.

"I make a whole wheat waffle with different kinds of grains and stuff," Fazel said. "And a lot of times I'll use up some of the fruit that I've got growing in the backyard."

Crisafulli also likes to make fritattas, which are similar to omelets except that the filling ingredients are cooked into the eggs.

"Then you get these nice big fat pieces," he said. "All of the things my son loves are all incorporated in one thing."

Eggs are the most popular breakfast-for-dinner choice among the chefs surveyed.

"I'm an egg girl," Maatouk said. "I love omelets. I do them Greek-style, with spinach, feta, tomatoes and onions. I also love just plain scrambled eggs with salsa. It's great for dieting -- low-carb dieting right there."

Fazel likes to do scrambled eggs with a little truffle oil or cheese.

Olivarez, who said she also is a fan of pancakes and waffles, will frequently scramble eggs for dinner.

"It kind of depends on what I have in the fridge," she said. "If I want to stick with a Mexican theme, chorizo with onions and black beans with green peppers and eggs. Awesome."

Saul Ortiz, executive chef of Tacos & Tequila at Luxor, said because his "forte is on the Mexican side" he naturally gravitates to dishes such as chilaquiles (fried tortillas with eggs, cheese and salsa) or leftover potatoes and chorizo, but "I've done some crazy things, like egg-stuffed chile rellenos. It works really good -- scrambled eggs, serranos, onions and tomatoes. Stuff an Anaheim or poblano pepper, smother it with a little bit of salsa.

"And you wouldn't believe how good scrambled-egg flautas are."

For those, he'll scramble eggs, wrap them in a tortilla, anchor the tortilla with a toothpick and drop into a fryer.

"A lot of people think it double-fries the egg; it doesn't," Ortiz said. "It maintains its body. It comes out really good because it's a chance for the tortilla to caramelize -- the corn and the sugar. Add cheese, guacamole, salsa, you have a home run. You will be like, 'Wow!' "

He also suggests mixing green salsa with sour cream or heavy cream -- making the texture velvety and reducing some of the heat -- for serving with eggs.

Harrington said he likes to make an egg sandwich with potato pancakes.

"More times than not, I'll have an egg-white omelet, somewhat because I'm watching my cholesterol. Usually it's Mediterranean-style; I'll put in cheese and tomatoes and spinach. It's filling, but not overly filling," said Michael Sellman, executive chef at the Sugar Factory at Paris Las Vegas,

"I'm trying to be healthy these days, so I'm an egg-white-and-avocado kind of guy," said Scott Irestone, executive chef at Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill at MGM Grand. "Scrambled egg whites, and avocado on the side. It's light and can be fairly healthy. It's definitely a good source of protein."

Howard said he likes "simple things, like some nice ground sausage."

"I usually tend to have some pork shoulder or ground pork around," he said. "Add some cumin, a little garlic, chili. Make myself a little sausage and eggs,"

He also keeps smoked salmon in the refrigerator and likes to eat it with eggs and a quick Hollandaise sauce.

Dewayne Rose, executive chef of the Palms, said he likes eggs over easy with steamed rice "and, believe it or not, Spam." He's not from Hawaii, the land of Spam-lovers, "but it has a good flavor. You can fry it. It's wonderful stuff."

"I'm a chef; you try to be as adventuresome as you can and try other things out there," he said.

Grits are a favorite, as are country-fried steak and eggs.

"I have kids," Rose continued. "We like to mix it up sometimes, with tortillas, potatoes, sausage -- almost like a breakfast burrito."

"I would say I do breakfast for dinner two to three times a week," Ortiz said. "You have all the components of a (conventional) dinner, and you can execute it in less than 30 minutes."

"I think they remind you of family -- the good old days when Mom would make breakfast for you," Maatouk said.

"I love breakfast," Olivarez said. "It's my absolute favorite meal of the day."

Even if it's for dinner.

Contact reporter Heidi Knapp Rinella at hrinella@ or 702-383-0474.