“Opening these little electric doors really took us inside the minds of Europe’s most creative culinary geniuses,” says Paris hotelier turned author Adrian Moore who has been called “Paris’ hottest food blogger” by Women’s Wear Daily. Along with photographer Carrie Solomon, Moore crisscrossed Europe tracking down forty of the continent’s top chefs and asked each to open up their refrigerators. Their quirky research culminated this month in the publication by Taschen of Inside Chefs’ Fridges (US$50).
At first we wondered why all this interest in the contents of anyone’s humble home appliance? “What these great chefs eat at home shows they are like everyone else – they all have Heinz ketchup in there, store bought mayonnaise and mustard too. Yet they have access to super bespoke, high end products too.” The apt fashion metaphor, Moore observes, “would be a closet full of Zara and Christian Dior.”
Asian foodies will notice “plenty of Asian sauces,” says Moore who was surprised to learn that Europe’s greatest chefs like nothing better than to lacquer on a layer of soy, hoisin or fish sauce to sex up any meal. Renegade French chef and long-time Asiaphile Thierry Marx stocks Japanese vinegar and umeboshi salted plums in his fridges, then credits Confucius as one of his culinary gurus.
As this novel collection of insider secrets reveals, such gourmet greats are not exactly like the rest of us. “Watching what these people can do with the simplest ingredients was awesome,” recalls Moore. “I watched one chef perform almost an edible magic trick with an apple and some celery.” Reminiscing about a pan-fried kale salad prepared in the Copenhagen kitchen of Amass chef Matt Orlando, Moore shares that “Even just the way someone so technically skilled cuts a vegetable can change how it tastes.”
Moore’s book also reveals more than a few salacious secrets to amuse us: Adeline Grattard of Yam t’cha’s penchant for fresh mare’s milk, the mouldy tomatoes of stonecutter turned visionary Paris chef Inaki Aizpitarte of Le Chateaubriand, the frozen flies found in the fridge of Danish mad scientist chef Rasmus Kofoed and Le Suquet chef Sébastien Bras’ stash of gyromitre mushrooms which become poisonous if improperly cooked.
Here in Paris where we meet, Moore recommends visitors hunt down the Moroccan absinthe leaves Fatéma Hal of La Mansouria swears by. “Whether you cook or not,” says Moore, “these potent little leaves ease muscle pain and jet lag, and are even said to ‘calm the spirit,’” Moore divulges with a wink.
We are what we eat, as this book proves, so an ingredient to de-stress is a culinary secret even those of us foodies with fridge’s nearly as empty as that of British chef legend Marco Pierre White can appreciate, especially during the holidays.