The recipes chefs learned and love to make from their moms

In celebration of moms and mother figures everywhere, a few chefs shared with “Good Morning America” the family recipes passed down from the leading ladies in their lives.

Although these chefs are professionally trained, few dishes are more comforting and delicious than those made by mom.

A plate of house-made cookies from The Apparatus Room.PHOTO:

From a beloved cookie recipe served in the restaurant of a two Michelin-starred chef to a great-grandmother’s handwritten instructions for custard, check out these special recipes that are both mom- and chef-approved.

Rebecca’s cookies

Acclaimed chef Thomas Lents of The Apparatus Room inside the award-winning Detroit Foundation Hotel honors a very special mother in his life on his menu every day. His wife, Rebecca LaMalfa, an accomplished chef herself, shared the recipe that’s been passed down from her grandmother and mother. The cookies are baked to order at the flagship restaurant. Plus, LaMalfa still makes the recipe at home for their own child.

PHOTO: Chef Thomas Lents with his wife Becca LaMalfa and their son.


1 pound unsalted butter

2 cups brown sugar

1 cup granulated sugar

4 eggs, large

2 tsp vanilla extract

5 cups rolled oats (ground into flour in the blender)

4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

4 cups chocolate chips


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the rolled oats in a blender and grind into a flour, set aside.

Cream butter and both sugars together using an electric mixer until fluffy. Mix, adding eggs one at a time and then add vanilla.

In a separate bowl, sift the dry ingredients of flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together. Add sifted ingredients as well as the rolled oats to wet ingredients, mix. Add the chocolate chips to the batter and mix just until combined so as not to break up the chips.

Scoop dough onto parchment- or silicone baking mat-lined baking sheets and gently press down the tops of the cookies so they bake evenly.

Bake for 12 minutes rotating halfway through.

Grandma’s pumpkin bread

Mulberry Street Tavern chef Marque Collins at the Surety Hotel in Des Moines, Iowa, shared the recipe he grew up baking by his grandmother’s side for holidays, and as gifts for friends, neighbors and even the mailman.


4 eggs

2 cans pumpkin (15 ounces each)

2/3 cup water

1 cup vegetable oil

1 cup walnuts

1 cup raisins

3 1/2 cups flour (sifted)

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

3 tsp ground cinnamon

2 tsp nutmeg

3 cups granulated sugar

1 tsp clove


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the first six ingredients together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl combine the remaining, dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients to the large bowl of wet ingredients, combine to create batter. Pour batter into 1-pound coffee can.

Bake for one hour or until a toothpick comes out clean. Once cooled down to room temperature, store by wrapping snugly in plastic.

Pumpkin bread freezes well, wrap securely in plastic.

Nanny’s excellent custard

PHOTO: A handwritten recipe for custard from chef Nyle Flynn’s great grandmother Irene Harrison.

Chef Nyle Flynn shared this “ultimate special occasion dish” that’s been passed down for generations from his great-grandmother Irene Harrison, better known as Nanny. The Tullibee chef at Hewing Hotel in Minneapolis shared the full handwritten recipe, including additional notes from his mom Leslee.

4 eggs, plus 2 yolks
2 cups whole milk
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Slightly beat eggs, yolks and vanilla together until just combined. Reserve.
Bring milk and sugar just to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Stirring constantly, incorporate the egg mixture into the milk and sugar*. Using a fine-mesh strainer, strain the mixture into a Pyrex baking dish. Place the dish in a metal pan with one inch of cold water. Carefully insert into the preheated oven. After 45 minutes, check for doneness. Custard is ready once the center is very firm; this can take up to one hour.
Custard can be served as is or with the addition of ⅔ cup flaked coconut or sprinkled nutmeg prior to baking.
*Temper the eggs by adding 2 tablespoons of the hot milk mixture first to the eggs prior to pouring the cool eggs into the hot milk.

Gloria’s black beans

PHOTO: An old family photo of chef Douglas Rodriguez with his mother Gloria.

Although the other chefs shared a sweet confection, executive chef Doug Rodriguez says his mother’s savory “Cuban Gravy” brings the taste of Cuba to everything it touches. The chef of Flor Fina at Hotel Haya in Tampa, who is globally acclaimed as the “Godfather of Nuevo Latino Cuisine,” shared his mother Gloria’s recipe after she celebrated her 80th birthday last month.

1 pound dried black beans
3 quarts water
2 bay leaves
1 cup extra virgin oil
2 large red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
2 shallots, chopped
2 onions chopped
8 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp. chopped fresh oregano leaves
1 1/2 tbsp. sugar
1 red onion
2 tbsp. salt
1 red onion, diced for garnish
8 ounces sour cream for garnish(optional)

Place the beans in nonreactive pan, cover with 3 quarts of water, add bay leaves and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer the beans for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, stirring frequently and adding more water if necessary to keep them well covered.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a sauté pan or skillet. Sauté the bell peppers, shallots and onions over medium heat until onions are translucent. About 15 minutes.
Add the garlic, cumin, dried and fresh oregano and sauté for an additional 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth. When the beans are almost tender, add the pureed mixture, sugar and salt to the beans and cook until just tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Add the seasoning garnish, the red onions and sour cream, and serve.

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