What Celebrities Taught Us About Food in 2016

Hilary Pollack

Hilary Pollack

We made sausages with Seth Rogen, tasted spices with Padma Lakshmi, and tried Dexter Holland's and Danny Trejo's hot sauces, among other things.

Believe it or not, there's a lot that we can learn from celebrities. Don't worry—we're not just talking about Kim Kardashian's contouring tips or Tila Tequila's alt-right conspiracy theories or Jared Leto's method for getting emaciated for his next film. We're talking about food, prison cooking, and hot-sauce-making, among other things.

From big food-world names like Anthony Bourdain and Gail Simmons to less-expected familiar faces like Danny Trejo and Dexter Holland, we've had some wonderfully interesting encounters with celebrities this year—and each taught us something we didn't know about eating well in a crazy world. Let's take a look back at some highlights, shall we?

Let's start with Bourdain, because hey, it's Bourdain. Back in September, he called bullshit on the growing prevalence of artisanal charcuterie programs that have more bark than bite, plus left us with this memorable thought: "Look, if we'd shut down the pumpkin spice thing in its crib, we would've done the world a service on the one hand; on the other hand, we'd have a lot less to write about because we can't write endless articles about the scourge of pumpkin spice or how awesome the latest pumpkin spice product is or how just weird or astounding or laughable it is."

READ MORE: Anthony Bourdain Doesn't Care About Your Artisanal Charcuterie

In November, we chatted with him again. This time, we discussed his new cookbook Appetites, but he also told us that he wants to publish the next great YA novel. Who knew? We also found out that he orders his burgers medium-rare.

READ MORE: Anthony Bourdain Wants to Publish the Next Great Teen Novel

Speaking of teens, we also talked to a certain silver-screen cop from high-school classic Superbad: Seth Rogen, who released his zany animated film Sausage Party this year. Naturally, we invited him to come make sausage with Toro chef Jamie Bissonnette.

We also spoke with Rogen and Sausage Party co-writer/co-producer Evan Goldberg about the movie itself, and learned what you should eat before seeing it ("Weed brownies," "Weed popsicles, weed granola bars") and that Seth Rogen loves Trader Joe's.

READ MORE: We Spoke to Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg About Sausage Party and Taco Orgies

Dexter Holland may have once been a sucker with no self esteem, but he's also the leader singer of The Offspring, one of the most commercially successful punk bands of all time, and, as we found out this year, a hot sauce entrepreneur.

And yes, his stuff is pretty fly—for a white guy or otherwise.

READ MORE: The Singer of the Offspring Makes Hot Sauce and It's Actually Pretty Fly for a White Guy

As long as we're talking about spicy stuff, let's recall when Top Chef host and author Padma Lakshmi took us to Kalustyan's market in NYC and ate a bunch of dried herbs and spices right out of the bag while teaching us about the best ways to use them in our cooking.

READ MORE: Inside Padma Lakshmi's Spice World

And apparently not one to fear finger food, Padma also revealed to us earlier this year that she loves fried chicken while talking about her book Love, Loss, and What We Ate: A Memoir. (By the way, per Padma's advice, put amchoor in your breading, people; you won't regret it.)

READ MORE: We Spoke to Padma Lakshmi About Family, Forgiveness, and the Pleasures of Fried Chicken

A woman after our own hearts.

But anyways, Dexter Holland isn't the only musician who showed off his cooking chops for MUNCHIES. Prodigy from legendary rap group Mobb Deep came through to demonstrate some culinary finesse, too. But there's a catch: He taught us how to make barbecue salmon… in prison.

The recipe is featured in his new cookbook, Commissary Kitchen: My Infamous Prison Cookbook. Look, you never know when this stuff will come in handy.

Cheech Marin (yes, of Cheech and Chong) is a fellow entrepreneur, having recently launched his own line of mezcal. And we love a smoky drink as much as we love, well, other pleasantly smoky things. We told us about a new strain of marijuana that's like "the Cognac of weed," and revealed that yes, he has been stoned and drunk off his mezcal at the same time. I mean, duh.

READ MORE: We Spoke to Cheech About His Mezcal, Weed, and Art

Hey, did you know that actor Danny Trejo opened his own taqueria in Los Angeles this year? He might just be the biggest badass in Hollywood, so yes, you'd be correct to expect that his tacos are killer, too.

Don't miss the street-style corn, either, Trejo says. (By the way, he also has his own hot sauce; could a celebrity hot sauce face-off be in our future?)

READ MORE: We Spoke to Danny Trejo About Tofu Tacos and What Machete Would Put in a Tortilla

Last but certainly not least, one of our absolute favorite guests in the MUNCHIES Test Kitchen this year was Top Chef's Gail Simmons, for three reasons. One, she's as smart and interesting as all hell; two, she's hilarious; and three, she made us a really spectacular meal, and damn right, we love to eat.

Simmons stopped by for an installment of our garden-fresh cooking column Dirty Work and whipped up Marcona almond gazpacho with grilled shrimp, grilled lamb with summer vegetables, and even a ground cherry cocktail like it was no big thing. She would never have to pack her knives and go, as they say. (How she made it look so damn easy was a mystery to all.)

READ MORE: Dirty Work: Gail Simmons Goes 'Top Chef' on the MUNCHIES Test Kitchen

But the best part is that she left recipes. And she even made a guest spot on our podcast to impart us with more of her culinary wisdom.

Celebrities: They're just like us! And what we all have in common is a love of eating, drinking, and being merry. Now, on to 2017, where more celebrity hot sauces await.