For Hugh Acheson, the acclaimed chef-proprietor of three Georgia restaurants, it was his mom's signature chicken piccata. For Jose Garces, a James Beard award winner who presides over six restaurants in Chicago and Philadelphia, it was his mom's empananadas, cheesy and hot, usually served at half-time during a Chicago Bears game. "These foods gain their power on us based on associations with primary caregivers, usually moms," Shira Gabriel, an associate professsor at the State University at New York at Buffalo, told the Associated Press. Gabriel, who co-authored a 2011 study on comfort foods added, "These foods that moms make for us give us a little ability to bring up that love whenver we want. They're really powerful."
Or as Garces says simply, "It brings me back to a good place, to a good time in my life."