March 15th, 2013
01:30 PM ET
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Alessandra Bulow (@abulow on Twitter) is Food & Wine's associate digital editor.

If foraging for shamrocks and downing marshmallow-filled cereal endorsed by a cartoon leprechaun hasn’t brought you the luck of the Irish by now, then it may be time to rethink your strategy on St. Patrick’s Day. From traditional dishes like noodles that symbolize longevity to a simple ham sandwich, superstitious chefs share their picks for good fortune.
Fried Pork Cutlet
“Tonkatsu is a popular Japanese dish that consists of a breaded, deep-fried pork cutlet,” says Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto. “Ton means ‘pork’ in Japanese, and katsu means ‘cutlet,’ but it also means ‘to win.’ Many Japanese people like to eat tonkatsu before a competition, examination or big event to ensure that they win or have good luck. I typically like to eat tonkatsu before Iron Chef battles, as I am superstitious that if I don’t, I’ll lose the competition!”

“I always do a shot of whiskey with my partners in crime before a big event or restaurant opening,” says chef and barbecue expert Elizabeth Karmel, of Hill Country Barbecue in New York City and Washington, D.C. Karmel also believes in the importance of non-alcoholic liquids. “Hydration is very important and prevents low energy, so before big events, I am superstitious about Smart Water,” says Karmel, who is not a spokeswoman for the brand.

“Before big events or travels associated with any of my restaurants I often burn a bundle of sage for good luck and positive energy,” says Los Angeles chef David Myers, of the new Hinoki & the Bird. “This is often referred to as smudging, a spiritual ritual I caught on to a few years ago that’s been known to correct or bring good energy into a space. For example, before our opening party for Hinoki & the Bird I burned a small bundle of sage and other herbs and walked through the entire space with it in my hand as the embers burned out.”

“It may seem silly, but when I start my day with eating bacon for breakfast—yes, bacon, thick-cut, crispy and chewy bacon—those days are always the most productive for me,” says chef Mette Williams, of L.A.’s Culina.

“My Asian heritage taught me from an early age to eat noodles on birthdays and New Year’s Day as a sign of longevity, something I still follow to this day,” says Timon Balloo, of Miami’s Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill.

Sometime so-called lucky foods can backfire, as chef Daniel Doherty of London’s Duck & Waffle explains: “In southern Italy they carry a corno or devil’s horn that’s red, looks like a chile, and it wards off back luck, bad karma and bad people. I bought one and had the worst 24 hours in my life: lost all my luggage, missed the plane and dropped my phone. It had the complete opposite effect. I went to my wife’s grandfather and told him. Apparently, it has to be bought for you. If you buy one yourself it’s bad luck. Now I know.”

Ham Sandwich
Chef Marc Vidal of New York City’s Boqueria won’t fly on a plane without a bocata de jamón, a simple sandwich made with jamón on crusty pa amb tomàquet (Catalonian tomato bread). “The first time, I was just hungry and knew that the food on the plane would be bad, as usual,” he says.

The bocata de jamón “was so good compared with the plane food, that I did it again and it became a custom! Now, I have gotten very superstitious about it and I can’t fly from Barcelona without my bocata de jamón!” 

Black-Eyed Peas
“Ever since I can remember, my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother would make sure we always ate tons of black-eyed peas on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day,” says chef Jeff McInnis of Miami’s Yardbird Southern Table & Bar. “My grandma would say that it would bring us fortune and money.”

More from Food & Wine

America’s Best Beer Bars

America’s Best Beer Gardens

Best Burgers in the U.S.

Best Pizza Places in the U.S.

St. Patrick’s Day Recipes

More St. Patrick's Day:

On St. Patrick's Day, it's easy drinking green
Why you should be drinking Irish whiskey on St. Patrick’s Day
Irish beers for St. Patrick's Day
Even more Irish Whiskey, per a partly Irish fellow
An Irish chef's picks for St. Paddy's fun

© 2011 American Express Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved.

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Filed under: Celebrity Chefs • Chefs • Content Partner • Food and Wine • Rituals • St. Patrick's Day

soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. Kev

    It's black-eyed peas AND collard greens on New Year's day. The peas bring luck and the greens bring money.

    March 19, 2013 at 1:20 am |
  2. admin

    Reblogged this on mygreatcookingideas.

    March 18, 2013 at 6:41 am |
  3. Ufia

    Yes, you read that right. "Can Bacon Bring Good Luck?" is what CNN considers front-page news.

    March 15, 2013 at 10:11 pm |
  4. Bacon

    Isn't a food – it's a cult.

    March 15, 2013 at 9:48 pm |
  5. Common senese

    You should associate bacon with the words "death and destruction" not luck! This is a sick ploy to get people to see over the horrors of the meat industry. CNN you should be ashamed of yourself because you are nothing more than a prostitute to the meat industry.

    March 15, 2013 at 9:46 pm |
    • VladT

      Yep....why, if not for CNN, people would've given up bacon years ago!

      March 19, 2013 at 6:13 am |
  6. Miked

    Very cheap way to advertise bacon and pork. All meat is BAD LUCK! Well, it depends on how the animal was killed in preparing it.

    March 15, 2013 at 8:09 pm |
    • Jokes_on-You

      Your right,I don't like preparing meat.

      I like biting into the aimal and jus eat it.Ne preparing required

      March 15, 2013 at 9:01 pm |
      • Michael

        Golem ? Is that you?..I thought you got melted in Mount Doom?

        March 15, 2013 at 9:36 pm |
  7. Campstove Jack

    If I didn't have bad luck, I'd have no luck at all.

    Got Nothin' but skill and good timing...

    March 15, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
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