It seems logical to assume that the contents of a refrigerator are a reflection of their owner. Someone who’s analytical and methodical will have a neatly organised fridge, with all the contents labelled. A health-conscious, ascetic person will use their fridge to store vitamins and the latest fashionable superfoods while the refrigerator of a foodie might be chaotic and stuffed with ingredients they’re currently interested in.
But what about chefs, ask photographer Carrie Solomon and writer Adrian Moore. “In their professional workspaces, chefs have everything they need: an organised environment, hi-tech equipment and a well-prepared team to ensure the job gets done. At home, it’s often quite another story. For even the most demanding chefs, personal life seeps into every corner of the home kitchen, casual preferences take rein and the hermetic environment of the daily workspace gives way to a certain casual chaos, to nostalgic noshing, and learning to play nice and share refrigerated space with family members and friends. In the work kitchen, it’s real.
At home, it’s another reality.
“Chef, what’s in your fridge? Is it full of daily necessities, basics for human survival? Is it overstocked, out of fear of not being a good provider for your partner or family? Is it full of leftovers or takeout in unmarked plastic containers or the fruits of your restaurant walk-in? Is your fridge pristine in its clinical cleanliness, full of name dropped niche producers, or haphazardly strewn with supermarket industrial fare? Chef, what’s in your fridge, and more importantly, who are you?” The answers are as varied as the chefs themselves. This volume, which focuses on chefs in Europe, shows that Massimo Bottura, of Osteria Francescana, in Italy, really likes an Italian soda called Chinotto – bottle after bottle is lined up in one section of his well-organised fridge. He also likes mineral water – he has sparkling and still – as well as expected Italian ingredients such as parmesan, anchovies, prosciutto and tomatoes, and unexpected Asian ingredients that include mirin, yuzu juice and Taiwanese sesame oil.
One of the tidiest fridges in the book belongs to Sebastien Bras – son of the legendary Michel – of Le Suquet, in Laguiole, France. His fridge contains just 12 items, including home-made yogurt, cherry and apricot jams, fresh cherries, apricots and red wine, while the freezer has just six, including black truffles and Vietnamese mint oil.
At the opposite end of the neatness scale is Fergus Henderson, of St John, in London. His fridge contains a foilwrapped leg of lamb, an almost overflowing bowl of leftover mashed potatoes, a mug holding fresh asparagus spears and plastic bags full of vegetables.
Magnus Nilsson, of Faviken, in Sweden, doesn’t even have a fridge – he prefers the traditional Swedish root cellar, with the shelves full of jars containing fermented and preserved ingredients: lupin bean paste, pasteurised tomatoes, pickled marigold flowers, birch sap syrup and home-made cured ham.
The chefs also give recipes. From Helen Darroze there’s wood pigeon with foie gras and truffle sauce, and beet and buffalo mozzarella tart; Alexandre Gauthier, of La Grenouillere, gives recipes for rice pudding, and cockles with parsley; while from pastry chef extraordinaire Pierre Hermé we get vanilla butter cookies, and peach and rose tart with cumin.
Inside Chefs’ Fridges, Europe by Carrie Solomon and Adrian Moore