1 ingredient 3 ways: How ‘Top Chef’ stars Gail Simmons, Tom Colicchio and Kristen Kish cook with cheese doodles

March 6, 2024

As 15 rising star chefs and James Beard nominees from across the country get ready for the season 21 “Top Chef” premiere, the and two veteran judges joined “Good Morning America” to show off their own culinary chops.

This year, the Emmy Award-winning series, which challenges chefs to push their culinary skills and creativity to the limits in an array of competitions, is set in America’s dairy land — Wisconsin.

To celebrate one of the nation’s largest dairy producers, season 10 winner-turned-host Kristen Kish, along with judges Gail Simmons and Tom Colicchio, created recipes to honor an iconic American snack: cheese doodles.

PHOTO: Gail Simmons, Kristen Kish, Tom Colicchio of Top Chef Season 21.

Gail Simmons, Kristen Kish, Tom Colicchio of Top Chef Season 21.

Stephanie Diani/Bravo via Getty

Check out their full recipes below that incorporate a serving of nostalgia in a new dish that you can recreate at home.

Chili-Cheese Doodle Chicken Milanese

Judge, food writer and cookbook author Gail Simmons shared her full recipe below.

Serves 4


1/2 small red onion, sliced into thin half moons
1 medium head radicchio, halved lengthwise and roughly chopped
1 granny smith or crunchy, tart apple of choice, sliced into thin half moons
3 celery stalks, thinly sliced crosswise
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus more for serving
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup thin Parmesan cheese ribbons (using a vegetable peeler), for serving

One 8.5 ounce bag cheese doodles
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs
1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
2 teaspoons chili flakes
Freshly grated zest of 1/2 lemon
Four 1/4-inch-thick chicken cutlets (about 1 pound)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

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To start the salad: In a large bowl, combine the red onion, radicchio, apple, celery and parsley. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

For the Milanese: Heat the oven to 200 F. Place an ovenproof platter or a baking sheet in the oven to warm.

In a food processor, pulse the cheese doodles until they resemble coarsely ground breadcrumbs. Do not over process. In a wide, shallow bowl, stir together the flour, 1 teaspoon salt and a generous pinch of pepper. Whisk together the eggs and a pinch of salt in another shallow bowl. Combine the cheese doodle crumbs, panko, chili flakes, lemon zest, and a pinch of salt in a third shallow bowl.

Using the flat side of a meat pounder or a rolling pin, gently pound each cutlet between 2 sheets of plastic wrap to 1/8-inch thickness. Pat the cutlets dry and season both sides lightly with salt and pepper. Dredge in the seasoned flour, shaking off excess. Dip in the eggs, letting excess drip off, then gently press into the cheese doodle mixture to completely coat. Transfer the cutlets to a large plate.

Heat the 1/2 cup oil in a 10- to 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Fry the cutlets in 2 batches, turning once, until cooked through and crispy, about 3 minutes per side. Drain each batch on paper towel-lined plates, season with salt, then transfer to the platter in the oven to keep warm.

To finish the salad, add the olive oil, lemon juice, and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper to the vegetable mixture.

Toss to combine. Serve the Milanese with the salad piled on top. Garnish with Parmesan ribbons.

Burrata with Roasted Tomatoes, Salsa Verde and Frico

Check out chef and restaurateur Tom Colicchio’s take on the cheese doodle challenge.

Burrata (one ball), placed atop roasted tomatoes

Roasted tomatoes and garlic:
12 ripe medium tomatoes, stems and cores removed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large head garlic, divided into unpeeled cloves
4 thyme sprigs
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Salsa verde:
5 1/2 cups flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 tablespoons diced shallot
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 tablespoon drained capers
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated


Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Cut tomatoes in half cross-wise (through equator) and place tomatoes, olive oil and garlic in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper and mix gently.

Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place tomato halves cut-side down and pour over them any olive oil left in the bowl. Scatter garlic and thyme on top and bake until the tomato skins loosen, about 20 minutes.

Remove and discard tomato skins. Pour any juices that have accumulated into a bowl and reserve. Return tomatoes to oven and reduce temperature to 275 F.

Continue roasting, periodically pouring off and reserving the juices, until the tomatoes are slightly shrunken and appear cooked and concentrated but not yet dry, 1 to 1 1/2 hours more.

Remove tomatoes from oven and cool on baking sheets. Peel the garlic and discard the skins and thyme.

For the salsa verde: In a bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well. Add the mixture to a food processor and process until they are well incorporated but not too smooth. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Sauce should be tangy and salty.

For the frico: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Working in batches, scoop tablespoon mounds of finely-grated Parmesan onto prepared baking sheet. Evenly spread each mound about 3 inches wide and space at least 1 inch apart. Bake until light brown and melted, 5-6 minutes (check while baking to ensure not too brown). Remove from oven.

Caramelized Cheese Doodle Sundae

Kristen Kish, season 10 “Top Chef” winner and this season’s new host, concocted a sweet recipe using the same secret ingredient.


For the caramelized cheese doodles:
1 bag (8 ounces or 226.8 grams) cheese puffs
1 1/4 cup loosely packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 stick unsalted sweet cream butter, cut into pieces
1/8 teaspoon fine salt
1 tablespoon dark rum (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract to remain alcohol free)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

For the garnish:
1 bar dark chocolate
1/2 dry roasted peanuts, chopped
Maldon sea salt

For the whipped cream:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons vanilla instant pudding mix


Preheat oven to 250 F. In a 10-by-15-inch stainless steel baking dish, spray with pan spray. Place cheese doodles in pan and place into oven as you prepare caramel.

In a medium sauce pan, add brown sugar, corn syrup, butter pieces and salt. Bring to boil, whisking to incorporate. High simmer/gentle boil for 4-5 minutes, or until mixture just begins to darken on the sides. Turn off heat, carefully add rum, incorporate. Add baking soda and whisk.

Remove doodles from oven and pour over. Using a spatula, carefully toss the caramel as best as possible with doodles, don’t worry about completely coating each doodle. This will happen in the next steps.

Place back into oven, bake for 10 minutes, remove and gently toss. Repeat this 3 times or until doodles are completely coated. Doodles will be crisp and the sugar coating will be hard after cooling.

Line a sheet tray with parchment, lightly spray with pan spray.

Remove doodles from oven, and spread doodles out on prepared sheet tray. Allow to cool completely at room temperature, 20 minutes ideally. Once cool, store in airtight container and enjoy.

Whip cream in mixing bowl to very soft peaks. Add in pudding powder, continue whisking to medium stiff peaks. Set aside.

For the sundae: Place a dollop of cream in the bottom of the bowl. Scoop vanilla ice-cream (or your favorite ice-cream flavor) on top, sprinkle toasted peanuts, and microplane dark chocolate over, finish with Maldon flaky sea salt. Add a pile of doodles on the side.

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