10 American Comfort Foods with a Kick

From New York City to Hawaii, chefs are dressing up comfort food

Inn at Perry Cabin

Comfort foods demand no gimmick whatsoever to do precisely what their name suggests. But when a talented chef can take a classic and spin it with a unique twist, a meal can elevate from comforting to mesmerizing.

See 10 American Comfort Foods with a Kick Slideshow

At the Inn at Perry Cabin in St. Michael's, Md., Mark Timms, the salt and pepper-haired executive chef from Yorkshire, England, does precisely that, taking American and English comfort foods and augmenting them with regional accents.

"I like to cook food with a soul," said Timms. In his restaurant, lobster heightens grilled cheese sandwiches (with brie and basil, of course) and a golden-crusted mac and cheese, pastry-capped pot pies are studded with briny local oysters, Benedicts with local crab, sliders with fried oysters… even poolside hot dogs get topped with butter-poached lobster.

But chef Timms isn’t the only comfort cook in the kitchen at Perry Cabin. Gustina "Miss Gussie" Harmon has been baking cookies for guests’ nightly turndown service, along with her famous herb and cheese rolls, for more than two decades.

"I don’t mess with her… she’s a legend," said Timms with a laugh. Miss Gussie’s rolls alone are the stuff of which legends are made — seven repeating layers of pastry, butter, herbs, Cheddar, and duck fat. Day-old biscuits then become croutons fit for a Caesar salad.

See the 10 American Comfort Foods with a Kick Slideshow for some of the comfort foods cooked up by Miss Gussie and chef Timms, along with a few other jazzed up comfort classics from two far corners of the country, New York City and Hawaii.