Once I had a dream that I lived inside one of my favorite chef’s
refrigerators. OK, who are we kidding? I’ve definitely dreamed of this
on more than one occasion, haven’t you? Well, WAKE UP kids, because
Adrian Moore and Carrie Solomon have turned foodie fiction into reality
with their new book Inside Chefs’ Fridges. The book is exactly what is
sounds like, namely top chefs opening their refrigerator doors … and
their hearts for this intimate rendez-vous. The book features several of
my favorite chefs with hard-to-pronounce names, but easy-to-love
cuisine like Yotam Ottolenghi or Inaki Aizpitarte, some French coup de coeurs like
the legendary Thierry Marx, sweet Pierre Herme, fabulous femme Hélène
Darroze or the très talented Jean-Francois Piège among their long list
of gourmet superstars. The book features gorgeous photos, so vibrant and
detailed that you almost want to jump right in and grab a snack. The
chefs also highlight their favorite ingredients in details share
delicious recipes. Sure, said recipes aren’t necessarily “green,” but
what I love about this book is that a passion and love for cooking on
the part of every chef is unanimous and it’s all about getting back into
the kitchen. Most chefs prefer a mélange of exotic ingredients and
local, top quality fare. While Germany may not be famed for its
vegetable consumption, Douce Steiner’s fridge was packed to the brim
with seasonal produce, herbs and water. She describes the origin of the
word “salad” which I found fascinating and shares a great recipe for
winter crudités. When is a refrigerator not a refrigerator? Here it’s
not just a common kitchen appliance, but a door opening to each culture
and each personality. Matt Orlando tells us about the wonders of honey
and shares a mouth-watering recipe for roasted kale with plums, red
seaweed and brown butter. Bo Bech’s grilled avocados with curry and
almond oil sound absolutely spectacular and Sergio Herman’s cashew,
black sesame, quinoa and kaffir lime condiment sounds like it may just
be my new favorite green garniture. It turns out James Henry’s fridge is
just as sexy as the rock star chef himself. He shares recipes for penne
with kohlrabi leaves and broccoli with XO sauce. I’m not sure what the
XO stands for, but I’ll take a hug and kiss, oui chef !
Speaking of true love, I also happened to fall madly in love with
several incredible refrigerators while perusing these pages. From
Gaggeneau to Bosch to Samsung to Liebherr, it is a festival of fridges
and the stuff green dreams are made of (or mine at least) In between
gazing adoringly at the amazing appliances, I also wanted to lick
several pages of the beautifully photographed produce and recipes like
Annie Feolde’s simple, but elegant Tuscan beans or Yotam Ottolenghi’s
…um, everything. I’m ready to rent space in his Sub Zero – can
this be arranged? He shares a recipe for a faro and broad bean salad and
almond and rose semolina cake and confesses his “slight obsession with
lemons and all things green” (do you see why I love him now?)
If you’re of the more gourmand nature, don’t worry, there are plenty of carnivorous and butter-filled delicacies scattered throughout like Gregory Marchand’s ode to Laughing Cow cheese or homemade smoked maple bacon and egg sandwich, Marco Pierre White’s eton mess, Fergus Henderson’s Welsh Rarebit (possibly the most ungreen dish in the world, am I right?) or Sang Hoon Degeimbre’s aged beef with French fries and Ssamjang butter (a close tie with the welsh rarebit for least healthy dish on earth). With so many recipe books out there, this one is a true gem. It’s not only a gorgeous gift or coffee-table book, but I really learned something about so many ingredients and loved the world tour of so many different cultures. The book just rolled out in the US and in Europe so find it wherever books are sold and refrigerators are used. The world’s best Refrigeraiders Adrian and Carrie took time out from fridge-hopping to chat about their exciting adventures in appliances and appetites.
Let’s start at the very beginning (a very good place to start) (cue the singing children and Austrian hills). What inspired the idea for this book?
Carrie: We wanted to take a very close look at how chefs behave and what they eat when not in their restaurants, at the same time we wanted to avoid the trap of “cooking with so-and-so at home.” The home fridge lets us as well as the reader decode each chefs’ late night hankerings, manias, preferences, dislikes and even their organizational habits- or sometimes lack there of !
Adrian: Also, very importantly, we wanted a curated list of the coolest and most influential chefs in Europe, from the bedrock of gastronomy to the cutting edge… the original idea came, I believe, one morning when I was barefoot in my kitchen thinking of how we could connect all of these chefs with one central symbolic idea. It just came to me the in a flash. Afterwards, I was so excited and contacted Carrie and we knew this was the idea and we started on it straight away recruiting the chefs and refining the concept together.
Chefs are notoriously the most impossible people to not only get in touch with, but also find any free time. How much money did you p—I mean, how did you convince them to agree to this project?
Carrie: Some chefs did take some convincing – or more so lots of persistent emails to personal assistants. Some of the arrangements took months to plan. Some chefs didn’t want us to pry too much into their cupboards and freezers and others invited us to sleep in their guest room.
Adrian: It wasn’t always easy, but we were patient and persistent and we got the greatest chefs. The only payment was having amazing exposure in our unique Taschen project, which they were all very happy about.
How did you decide which chefs to include? (Clearly sexiness was a factor.)
Carrie: We tried to choose chefs who will be the next movers and shakers, who have original ideas, and as it turns out, most were indeed quite easy on the eyes.
I know that this is like asking someone to choose a favorite child, but do you have a “favorite chef” or favorite fridge ?
Carrie: I really liked fridges that were jam packed, such as Nicolas Ekstedt’s or Sven Chartier’s it made itemizing a nightmare but there was so much to discover, these frdges were sticky and had some great unexpected finds like fish paste in a tube for kids and family grown veg.
Adrian: I liked all types, but the minimalist ones were pretty cool, like David Munoz, Spain’s youngest three Michelin star chef, who had all the basic food groups: beer, wine, cheese, Sriracha and Marco Pierre White’s, which was a gorgeous 30’s wooden Frigeco, restored at great expense
What were some of the most surprising refrigerator finds among these chefs?
(For example, I always pictured Pierre Herme’s fridge as being stacks of tartelettes and macarons, but in fact – the man eats fruit, nuts, miso paste and fresh vanilla ! And many “fancy” chefs kept it simple in their own fridges.)
Carrie: There are indeed multiple boxes of macarons in Hermes fridge but yes, the man does eat fresh fruits too ! He had a pristine well organized fridge which I think is a reflection of the man himself and the empire he has built. Inaki had a couple items well past their expiration date, Marco Pierre White had an empty fridge, Michelin starred chefs David Toutain, Annie Feolde and Alexandre Gauthier had the smallest fridges. Greg Marchand and Helene have big soft spots for industrial cheese.
Adrian: The profusion of Asian condiments and supermarket sauces was pretty much across the board and I didn’t expect this.
Do you have any crazy stories to share about some of these shoots or interviews?
Carrie: Getting to Magnus Nilsson was quite an ordeal. It was a nasty snowstorm and I was positive that I had taken the wrong road once we found ourselves on an unpaved two-track road. When I called him to check on the directions he said keep gong for another 20 minutes. Somehow we made it in one piece.
In another instance, I got a huge speeding ticket, to the tune of 900 EUR in a Nordic country which shall go unnamed.
Adrian: Spending the weekend in Marco Pierre White’s Georgian country house was wild, and spending the day hunting with him was a life experience, drinking mescal shots at Bo Bech’s gorgeous apartment then hitting Copenhagen town with him after til the wee hours was a blast, as was lunching on a simple risotto and discussing life with Massimo Bottura in his art-filled bunker (for lack of a better word!)
Are there any chefs – dead or alive – not in this book whose refrigerators you’d love to see?
Carrie: I’d love to eat some leftovers from Mario Batali’s fridge.
Adrian: I’d love to hang and a have a few beers from Anthony Bourdain’s fridge.
If you were to host your dream dinner party, who would be invited, what chef would be cooking and what would you eat ?
Carrie: I like spicy food so I would want Tatiana Levha to collaborate with David Munoz. There would be spicy cockles, fried bulots, crispy veal sweatbreads, peanut butter paris brest. Beer and champagne to take the heat off. And some of my favorite girlfriends who have big appetites.
Adrian: Too hard to choose. I love the cooking of Greg Marchand, Bertrand Grébaut, Sven Chartier, Tatiana Levha, Jean-François Piege, etc. They all put themselves into their cooking, no matter how casual or high end their stlye may be. I am really looking forward to rediscovering those chefs whom we didn’t have the time to fully appreciate in the whirlwind of research this book required.
Among the chefs in the book, who would you say is the “greenest” ?
Carrie: Hands down Sven Chartier.
What are your favorite places to eat…
Carrie: The Beast, Le Servan, Le Comptoir du Relais, Frenchie, Clown Bar
Adrian: Frenchie, Le Servan, Septime, Clamato, L’Avant Comptoir, Breizh Café, Krung Thep. It all depends on the mood I’m in.
Carrie: Momofuku ssam bar, Bubby’s for brunch. I’ve never been to Mission Cantina- will definitely go next time.
Adrian: In NYC, I’ve loved both high and low end: Roberta’s and Per Se, Nomad and Parm… I’ve been away a couple years, and I feel the city and my friends there calling me back.
If you had to eat kale, which chef would you ask to cook it for you and why ?
Carrie: I haven’t left the bandwagon, I love kale. I would want a Nordic chef to do some type of funky fermentation or maybe a Spanish chef like David Munoz could so something particularly spicy and naughty.
Adrian: Matt Orlando did a great kale recipe in the book, delicious eaten standing up in his modern apartment overlooking Copenhagen
Are there certain ingredients that are in most chef’s fridges or that appear often? Which ones ? Did these surprise you?
(I noticed for example that a lot of chefs, like moi, always have lemons and miso paste !)
Carrie: And soy sauce, dijon mustard and ketchup. Cream cheese was popular too.
You opened a lot of refrigerators. What is your favorite brand or product among these appliances?
Carrie: I liked the efficiency of the Gaggenau refrigerators. They aren’t bulky, but they are tall, good for city dwellers. The sub zero is cool but huge if you live in a small city apartment.
Adrian: I have a tiny kitchen in my flat in Paris and eat out lots too so I’m not sure the amazing fridges we saw would be convenient for me, but the Sub Zero’s I saw, and Thierry Marx’s made-to-measure KitchenAid were pretty impressive and compared to my minibar sized model, the difference between a Ford Escort and a Maybach.
What’s in your refrigerator ?
Carrie: Cabbage, miso, kiwi, radishes, beets, yogurt, a few different types of mayo, bacon, deli ham, aged mimolette cheese, tonic water, pouilly vinzelle, chocolate sauce
Adrian: 1664 beer, cheese from Pascal Beillevaire (Comté, truffled Brie), oyster sauce, sriracha I bought in Bangkok, organic orange juice, salad, mozzarella, “coeur de pigeon” cherry tomatoes.
Photo credits: Copyright: TASCHEN
(first refrigerator interior) : spread from the book, Bo Bech, GEIST Copenhagen, Denmark
(recipe for beet salad): spread from the book, Sven Elverfeld, AQUA Wolfsburg, Germany
(second refrigerator interior): spread from the book, Hélène Darroze, RESTAURANT HÉLÈNE DARROZE
Paris, France and London, England