In Chefs’ Fridges (Harper Design, May), food photographer Carrie Solomon and food writer Adrian Moore open up the home refrigerators of big names in the culinary world, giving readers a peek at how the pros cook when they trade their whites for slippers.
(Hint: all the condiments.) PW spoke with the authors about some of the surprising things they found in what Moore calls “Willy Wonka fridges.”
What’s the most ingenious, or unusual, item you saw in a chef’s refrigerator?
A.M.: Kristian Baumann [of the sustainability-minded Restaurant108, in Copenhagen] is Korean and was adopted by a Danish couple; when he went to Korea for the first time a few years ago, he said, he stepped out of the airport, smelled the spices on the wind, and felt at home. His fridge contained foraged mushrooms from a park in Copenhagen, soybean paste made by seven nuns from a mountaintop temple near Seoul, and a honey-preserved pinecone.
C.S.: Sean Brock [Audrey, Nashville] had lots of little containers of what you could call garbage garam—garam is a sauce from Roman times—which is a way of using up everything from his restaurant kitchen, from fish to meat to vegetable scraps.
What surprised you?
A.M.: Fridges looked really different depending on whether the chefs were married, lived alone, had kids, etc. Some had cannabis extracts—Barbara Lynch [multiple restaurants, Boston] was experimenting with gummies. Mette Søberg [Noma, Copenhagen] had a slice of wedding cake in her freezer from her sister’s wedding. Pascal Barbeau (Astrance, Paris) had half French luxury products, half Asian—sardines and caviar, supermarket rice pudding, and a 100-year-old egg between them. Dan Barber (Blue Hill, New York City) had a completely wrapped child’s birthday cake, and also leftover Halloween candy.
What home cooking tips did you glean from speaking with the chefs?
C.S.: Prep and freeze. Sean Brock kept prepped potatoes for hash browns in the freezer; Amanda Cohen (Dirt Candy, New York) froze a green vegetable reduction, which could be used to make quick five-minute meals. David McMillan [Joe Beef, Montreal] kept canned peaches in the fridge, and used the syrup instead of maple syrup. And they all had a ton of condiments, both commercial and homemade. Any leftovers can be made better with condiments, especially Asian ones; regardless of their specialty, a lot of chefs had gochujang, or ponzu, or chili garlic sauce. Hugh Acheson (5&10, Athens, Ga.) made his own vinaigrette out of kimchi.
Whose home fridge situation sparked the most envy?
C.S.: Ivan Orkin [Ivan Ramen, New York] had four fridges. Upstairs, one for family meal prep; downstairs, three more: one for beer, one was a freezer for prepped seafood, and one was for everything else.