Every chef has his or her go-to ingredient. But many of them are pantry staples the rest of us can find at a local shop. We got tips from local chefs on their favorite staple, and where to get it.
Laurence Agnew, executive chef, Main Street Cafe
To add an extra flavor to dishes, I like to keep Bourbon Barrel Foods products on hand. Available at local stores like Paul’s Fruit Market, the bourbon-smoked paprika adds a unique kick to homemade dry rubs when grilling.
Edoardo Bacci, Brasserie Provence
I was born in Trieste, Italy, so cured meats and aged cheeses are a must. We are fortunate to live in such a thriving farmers market community, and on Saturday mornings I can get my cheese fix from Giovanni with Sapori D’Italia, a regular at the Douglass Loop farmers market.
Rhona Bowles Kamar, Ramsi’s
My love affair with preserved lemons has been going on for a while now. A genius tradition of the Moroccans, preserving whole lemons in salt for a couple of months transforms the skins into something like butter and deepens the citrus to a more soulful version of itself. Use it to finish a soup, add character to vinaigrette, elevate a dry martini, blend it into mayo with some fresh herbs for a dipping sauce for crudite, or whip into deviled eggs. I buy mine at Lotsa Pasta or Williams-Sonoma.
John Castro, Winston’s Restaurant
I have every mustard in the free world. In the summer, I use them mostly for dressings and marinades. You can use a sweet mustard like the Bavarian style in vinaigrettes, and by forgoing the sugar, you add a lot of flavor without a cloying sweetness. Many mustards can be found at Whole Foods.
Claudia Delatorre, Cake Flour
My favorite items to have at home are dates or figs (Whole Foods) or fresh from the farmers market, eggs from Chelsey’s farm. … I will put a fried egg on almost any meal.
Jim Gerhardt, Limestone
Paul’s does a pretty good job of representing Kentucky products. Some of our favorites for both work or home are Pops’ Pepper Patch Habagardil Pickles. ... I usually get the Extreme Heat one. ... Try them diced in a potato salad, yolk stuffing for deviled eggs or in a kidney bean salad. Be careful with them, however.
Anthony Lamas, Seviche
My favorite pantry staple is a spice blend from La Tropicana (5215 Preston Highway) called “poco de gallo.” It’s a blend of lemon, salt and chile that gives fruit a nice zip. Simply sprinkle it over your favorite seasonal cut fruit for a delicious snack.
Tyler Morris, Rye
I love Asian ingredients and I like to buy things I have never tried before. ... I love shopping at Choi’s Market. I always get a big jar of kimchi and a bag of rice. Kimchi is great on nearly everything — it’s spicy and tangy and adds character to everything. They have dozens of types of rice there … and can turn you on to something new!
Ryan Rogers, Feast BBQ
Good lettuce makes any salad, or sandwich, better. I always reach for lettuces from Grateful Greens, which can be found at a couple groceries around town, including ValuMarket.
Allan Rosenberg, Papalinos
My absolute favorite go-to at home is Bourbon Barrel Soy Sauce. I use it in meat marinades and sauces. You can source it at Whole Foods, Bourbon Barrel Foods, local farmers markets and Rainbow Blossom. At Papalinos, we use Kenny’s cheeses of various types and Capriole goat cheese, available at Lotsa Pasta.
Chris Ross, The Bristol Bar & Grille Highlands
Large-granule kosher salt is a must-have for me. I find it best to cook with, and it actually keeps me from over-salting foods. It’s great for a garnish because it can even add crunch to a piece of fish or steak when mixed with fresh herbs and whole butter. You can easily find this at Kroger.
David Scales, Lilly’s
One of my favorite pantry staples at home is Duke’s mayonnaise. Even though I enjoy making my own mayonnaise, sometimes you just can’t beat an aioli or remoulade made with Duke’s. It can be hard to come by, but I’ve found this pantry staple at ValuMarket.
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