On the Menu: Chefs’ Favorite Condiments

Whether they buy them or make them, a condiment is often a chef’s secret ingredient. Used as finishing sauces or as an integral component of recipes, they take dishes from everyday to outstanding. Here are top chefs’ favorite condiments and how they use them in delicious dishes you’ll want to order (and you may also want to put them in your pantry).

Clay Conley, Grato, West Palm Beach, Florida
Chef Clay Conley of Grato is a fan of Calabrian chili oil. According to Conley, “It has a great balance of smoky and salty flavors, and just the right amount of heat to complement many dishes.” Currently, it’s being used to add heat to a cool dish of tuna crudo with tomato water and cucumber. Make a reservation at Grato.

Chefs' Favorite Condiments

Jason Halverson, Stones Throw, San Francisco, California
Stones Throw has become known for creative dishes such as Puffed Potatoes and Eggs with Cauliflower Mousse, Chives, Crispy Chicken Skin, and Squid Ink Conchiglie with seafood, but the Da Burger is a classic that never comes off the menu. Chef Jason Halverson is an admitted condiment junkie, but when forced to choose one, he picks the Japanese product Kewpie Mayonnaise. Says Halverson, “Kewpie Mayonnaise is like mayo on crack. I like it because it’s so versatile. You can add it to coleslaw, sandwiches, sauces, etcetera. It’s a hidden go-to ingredient. It’s not so cloying as regular mayonnaise. It’s in the secret sauce on the burger but also used as a binder in the tater tots.” Make a reservation at Stones Throw.

Chefs' Favorite Condiments

Chris Santos, Vandal, New York, New York
Chef Chris Santos says, “I’m a huge connoisseur of heat. I always have 40 to 50 hot sauces on hand, but Midori Sriracha is my new favorite. It has such a unique taste, and it was exactly what we needed for the Hong Kong egg waffles.” It’s used in the Chicken Katsu and Hong Kong Egg Waffles at new restaurant and lounge Vandal on the Bowery in New York, which features street food from around the world. Make a reservation at Vandal. 

Chefs' Favorite Condiments

Perry Hoffman, SHED, Healdsburg
Perry Hoffman chooses Kozlik mustard, a sweet and smoky mustard from Canada he found on the shelf in the SHED store and describes as more mild than Dijon or whole grain. Says Hoffman, “It’s salty sweet, spicy and it hits all of the flavor profiles. It’s the umami of mustards and I love it.” He likes it smothered on a roast chicken and as a base for a veggie dip. At the restaurant, it is used in the dressing for the mustard greens accompanying the Whole Poussin, which is served dramatically with head and feet attached. Make a reservation at SHED.

Chefs' Favorite Condiments

Edward Lee, Succotash, National Harbor, Washington, Maryland
According to chef Edward Lee of Succotash, just south of Washington D.C., Chung Jung One’s Gochujang Korean Chili Sauce — the next generation of the traditional fermented hot chili paste — gives foods a spicy and tangy flavor with a hint of sweetness. “It isn’t just spice for the sake of heat. It is nuanced and layered. It has sweetness and umami, lots of umami. It adds flavor and complexity,” says Lee, who mixes the sauce into the pimento cheese layer of his Tex-Mex-meets-the-South Pimento Fundido for a deep, tangy, spicy kick. Make a reservation at Succotash.

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Insane Burgers: 10 Totally Cray Cray Patty Masterpieces

Most burgers are served on a sesame seed bun with the typical toppings – patty, iceberg lettuce, ring of red onion, tomato slice, American cheese, and a little secret sauce that’s basically Thousand Island dressing. There’s nothing wrong with being basic. But, for a mo, let’s forget those quotidian contenders. These over-the-top, no-holds-barred two handers feature primo patties, über-luxe garnishes, and other unexpected elements that will have you swearing off standard-issue quarter pounders for life. Here are 10 totally insane burgers, with sincere apologies to those of you who have brought your lunch to work today.

db Bistro Moderne, Miami, Florida
Daniel Boulud may be French, but he has totally mastered the American art of crafting burgers. His most over-the-top rendition stars a ground sirloin patty stuffed with red wine-braised short ribs and foie gras. Slathered with a little fresh horseradish and tomato confit, it arrives on a housemade toasted Parmesan and poppy seed bun. Make a reservation at db Bistro Moderne.

insane burgers

Rockit Burger Bar, Chicago, Illinois
How could you not order a burger called the Mac & Cheese Attack? It sounds so amazeballs that we’d be surprised if anyone could resist it. The carb-loaded beast features a quarter pounder nestled between two “buns” of deep fried mac ‘n cheese. It’s garnished with lettuce, tomato, scallions, and sriracha ketchup, which we now know goes really well with mac ‘n cheese. Who knew? Make a reservation at Rockit Burger Bar.

insane burgers

Root & Bone, New York, New York
This insane, Southern-minded cheeseburger has a couple of things going for it. Firstly, it’s stuffed with pimento cheese. Secondly, it’s chicken fried. And, it comes with waffle fries. ‘Nuff said. Make a reservation at Root and Bone.

Insane burgers

SoBou, New Orleans, Louisiana
This foie gras-enriched burger comes gussied up with a sunny side up egg and duck bacon. To help wash down all that decadent fat is an equally decadent, equally fatty foie gras milkshake. Which would be a great name for a band. Just sayin’. Make a reservation at SoBou.

Insane burgers

MAMO, New York, New York
Don’t tell your cardiologist if you have this for lunch. That’s because this burger is capped off with a lobe of foie gras and a snowfall of paper-thin white truffles, not to mention a little gravy. Because why the hell not? You’ve already clearly decided to temporarily ditch your heart healthy diet. Make a reservation at MAMO.

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Lively Up Yourself: 9 Legend-ary Jamaican + Ethiopian Dishes for Bob Marley Day 2016

February 6th marks what would have been Bob Marley’s 71st birthday. Born in Jamaica, the reggae icon considered Ethiopia his spiritual home. To celebrate the two rich veins of his heritage, we are highlighting nine outstanding dishes from the Caribbean island and the eastern African nation. These history-rich foods embody and showcase the culinary traditions of each region. Guaranteed to satisfy your soul on Bob Marley Day 2016 – and guaranteed to be one of your #29ReasonstoLoveFebruary!

Mr. Brown’s Lounge, Chicago, Illinois
Skewered shrimp are marinated in a ‘catch a fire’ jerk sauce made with plenty of Scotch Bonnet peppers that ain’t for the faint of heart. Luckily, the sweet, soothing mango salsa keeps things cool. If that’s not enough, we recommend a tart Ting grapefruit soda or a guava milkshake to quench the flames dancing across your tongue. A side of fried plantains or coconut milk-enriched rice ‘n’ peas will also help. Make a reservation at Mr. Brown’s Lounge.

Bob Marley Day 2016

Das Ethiopian Cuisine, Washington, D.C.
Can’t make up your mind on what to order? The vegetarian entrée sampler is a good way to go. Featuring eggplant and carrot wat stew, miser wat (red lentil stew with traditional Ethiopian Berbere pepper spice), and tikil gomen (ginger and garlic amped cabbage, potatoes, and carrots) and more, its served on a bed of spongy injera bread that’s meant to be used as a utensil — and then promptly eaten. Make a reservation at Das Ethiopian Cuisine.

Bob Marley Day 2016

Taste of the Caribbean, Seattle, Washington
Meet your new favorite appetizer. Salted codfish, onions, peppers, and West Indian spices are balled up, battered, and deep-fried. Zigzagged with hot sauce and speckled with scallions, we bet you can’t eat just one of these tasteful takes on the Caribbean classic. Make a reservation at Taste of the Caribbean.

Bob Marley Day 2016

Ethiopian Diamond, Chicago, Illinois
Think of tibs as an Ethiopian stir-fry. To create tibs quosta, spinach is sautéed with garlic and onions, and then mixed with juicy chicken chunks and green peppers. Of course, it’s served with plenty of injera bread, so you can fold up the components together fajita-style. Make a reservation at Ethiopian Diamond.

Bob Marley Day 2016

Ja’ Grill, Chicago, Illinois
Chef Errol Gallimore, a Jamaican transplant, cooks his home-style oxtail in an aromatic brown sauce until the meat is falling off the bone. The rich stew is fortified with butter beans, carrots, potatoes, onions, and several varieties of pepper and is complemented with spicy rice and fried plantains. Goes well with an ice-cold Red Stripe beer. Or three. Make a reservation at Ja’ Grill.

Bob Marley Day 2016

Lucy Ethiopian Restaurant & Lounge, Houston
If Ethiopia has a national chicken dish, it just might be doro wat. In this rendition, a bone-in drumstick and thigh are slow-simmered in a spicy slurry, not unlike a thick barbecue sauce, and accompanied by a hard-boiled egg. We’re fond of mashing all the components together to create a barbecued chicken ‘n’ egg salad, which we roll up in torn off pieces of injera. Make a reservation at Lucy Ethiopian Restaurant & Lounge.

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Super Bowls: 7 Winning One-Bowl Dishes for Winter + Beyond

In celebration of the Bowl that’s going down in the Bay Area this weekend, let’s dish about bowls — not plates — of oodles of noodles and other well-rounded meals. These 7 spots will bowl you over with one-bowl dishes highlighting warm ramen noodles, chilled spicy noodles, rice, and more. And, if your favorite team didn’t make it to the big game, consider these bowls to be warm culinary consolation hugs, too. 

The Kitchen by Wolfgang Puck, Grand Rapids, Michigan
A cold-weather hotspot in The Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, eight of the 10 appetizers on the menu are served in bowls, as well as all of the pasta dishes and most of the sides. “I personally love to serve dishes in bowls,” says chef Austin Gresham. “If I build a dish in the center of the bowl, the guest is forced to draw the food from the center of the bowl against the wall of the dish. That forces them to enjoy the dish exactly how I want them to. Much better than a ‘decomposed’ plating strategy, where parts of the dish are spread out and guests are able to enjoy components of dishes separately. This could potentially take away from the whole experience of a dish, like a bite of steak without the sauce.” Noodle dishes include Chicken lo Mein — egg noodles, bean sprouts, bok choy, oyster sauce and soy. And there’s Pad Thai on the menu, too — scallops, shrimp, scallions, mint, and peanut sauce. Make a reservation at The Kitchen by Wolfgang Puck.

One-bowl dishes

Bubu-Lowry, Denver, Colorado
The Denver Broncos are going to the Super Bowl! You’re not! But … you can to go Bubu-Lowry, where the Chicken Thigh Ramen Bowl with Swiss chard, edamame, pickled fennel, peppers, ginger, and chicken broth is a crowd pleaser. Feeling creative at half time? You can opt to make your own bubu bowl creations. A win-win, for sure. Make a reservation at Bubu-Lowry.

One-bowl dishes

Momofuku CCDC, Washington, D.C.
The mother of all bowls, David Chang’s Momofuku gives a noodle nod to D.C. with its first U.S. capital location in City Center. There are rice and noodle bowls aplenty to cheer for including Momofuku Beef Noodle Soup, which features brisket, baby bok choy, and black pepper. Spice it up with the Chilled Spicy Noodles with Szechuan sausage, spinach, and candied cashews. Or tackle the Ginger Scallion Noodles, rich with pickled shiitake, cucumber, cabbage. Make a reservation at Momofuku CCDC.

One-Bowl Dishes

Il Palio, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Chef Teddy Diggs will serve his pasta “super bowls” as a nod to football’s biggest day. He’s teamed his authentic Italian recipes with playful ingredients to produce winning dishes, such as duck egg carbonara and hay-smoked potato gnocchi infused with wood smoke (the smoky flavors of the grill are infused into the pasta). Andiamo! Make a reservation at Il Palio.

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