Grant Achatz really likes Ben & Jerry’s— and other fascinating things we learned by peeking inside five top chefs’ home refrigerators
Chef photos: (KIM) CORY DEWALD; (ACHATZ) ABEL URIBE/CHICAGO TRIBUNE; (IZARD) Jonathan Robert Willis; (REGAN) JEFF MARINI; (GOSS) MARC HAUSER
Her fridge: A 25-cubic-foot side-by-side Frigidaire
One picky eater dictates much of what’s on hand in this two-cook household (Kim’s husband, Johnny Clark, is also a chef at Parachute): 7-year-old son Daewon. “He likes Asian food more than Western. If I make him a turkey sandwich for lunch, it’ll come back uneaten.”
1. Frozen breast milk “Just part of being a working mom,” says Kim, who also has a 6-month-old son.
2. Leftover chili “We often throw together a chili or a Bolognese using some of the red wine we keep around.”
3. Tofu “My son has told us he’s ‘mostly vegetarian,’ and he likes tofu’s texture. Firm does the trick for pretty much everything, so that’s all I keep.”
4. Amy’s frozen Indian meals “If I’m going to eat something frozen, I’ll do Indian—there’s lots of spices for flavor, plus the texture doesn’t get weird.”
5. Kimchi “Already sliced, because I don’t have time to chop it up.” Other Korean staples Kim buys at Joong Boo Market, near her Avondale condo: doenjang (fermented soybean paste), premade banchan (pickled and preserved vegetables), and gochujang (red chili paste).
6. Greek yogurt “Daewon pretty much went from breast milk to yogurt, and he’s very particular about his brand: He likes Wallaby because it’s super creamy.”
His fridge: A 21-cubic-foot side-by-side Sub-Zero 661
The day-to-day dining habits of Chicago’s most avant-garde chef are surprisingly mundane: bagels for breakfast, pasta for dinner, and nary a foam in sight. “I’m pretty boring at home,” says Achatz, who lives with his girlfriend in Wicker Park.
1. Frozen pizza dough Achatz does a lot of his home cooking on Mondays, when Alinea is closed. “A frequent Monday activity is doing homemade pizza. But I’m not gonna lie—we bought that dough on Instacart from Whole Foods.”
2. Frontera Salsa Mexicana (mild) “This is the right heat level for me. I can’t have super spicy stuff.”
3. Deli containers “I’ll pickle beets, grill vegetables, caramelize onions—whatever. Then I’ll deli them up and throw them in eggs or pasta, and they’ll last awhile.”
4. Ben & Jerry’s ice cream “I’m a big fan. Boom Chocolatta and Milk & Cookies are my two big ones. I like to have a couple spoonfuls at the end of the night.”
5. Avocados “Pretty much every morning, there’s an avocado toast situation—on bagels or whole wheat bread.”
6. Lettuce “Oddly, the best way to store washed and cut-up lettuce is in the salad spinner, so we prep that on Monday.”
Chef-partner, Girl & the Goat, Little Goat Diner, Duck Duck Goat
Her fridge: A 26-cubic-foot side-by-side KitchenAid
Once summer hits, Izard and her husband, beer guru Gary Valentine, host grilling get-togethers at their Little Italy home—so they tend to have party-ready food on hand, along with snacks for their 1-year-old son, Ernie.
1. Cheese “There has to be Parmesan in the fridge or I’ll have a wig-out. I put it on everything—eggs, pasta, even fried rice. It just adds that savory kick.”
2. Ice cream bars “The Skinny Cow ones are mine—the pretzel and caramel bars have that sweet-and-savory thing going. The Frosty Paws are for our dog, Burt. He gets really jealous of the baby.”
3. Fryer oil “I was frying a Taiwanese-style chicken, so I strained the leftover oil and saved it for later.”
4. Frozen waffles “While Ernie was teething, we’d give him a waffle, still frozen, to munch on. It was his nanny’s idea.”
5. Chickpeas “I love them in a salad or even just to eat plain as a snack.”
6. Kewpie mayonnaise The Japanese mayo has “that tang I got growing up eating Miracle Whip. Add any condiment to it and you’ve got a sauce or a marinade.”
Chef-owner, Elizabeth Restaurant, Kitsune
Her fridge: A 22-cubic-foot side-by-side Kenmore Coldspot
The foraging-obsessed chef keeps things simple at home, preferring to snack on cured meats, hummus, and microwavable meals. “If I make anything, it’ll probably be for breakfast.”
1. Riesling “My girlfriend’s the wine drinker.” Regan’s been sober for seven years.
2. Leftovers Regan doesn’t have to travel from her West Rogers Park two-flat to get home cooking. “My mom lives downstairs.” In this container: Mom’s pasta with asparagus and mushrooms.
3. Salsa Regan grabbed it from the Mexican grocery Edgewater Produce, along with some tortillas: “I cooked a piece of flank steak with eggs and broccoli, then ate it on tacos.”
4. Frozen meals “Mostly the Amy’s ones. I like the one with black-eyed peas.”
5. Salami “I always have charcuterie—one of my staples. That and cheese.”
6. Glucosamine Regan recently adopted a dog—a Newfoundland puppy to go with her shih tzu—so she’s been giving him this supplement to boost his meals.
Executive chef, Publican; chef-owner, Pacific Standard Time (opening this fall)
His fridge: A 23-cubic-foot Sub-Zero with a glass door
Known for his gonzo meaty creations, Goss goes healthier at his Ukrainian Village condo: lots of seasonal veggies and probiotic drinks. He also digs his see-through fridge door: “It’s like MTV Cribs.”
1. Tamari Soy Sauce “My wife loves Asian food, so I’ve been doing roasted vegetables with fish sauce and tamari lately.”
2. Soylent Coffiest The meal-replacement beverage is Goss’s go-to breakfast. “It’s good for someone like me who forgets to eat when working long hours and wants to get at least something healthy in.”
3. Miller High Life “I drink it exclusively—it’s an easy-drinking beer, and I’m a creature of habit.”
4. Wine: “At the Goss household, it’s always rosé season.”
5. Condiments Goss is a big sandwich guy, hence the multitude of mustards and Hellmann’s mayonnaise. “I could eat it out of the jar.”
6. Chicken Publican Quality Meats sells whole Slagel Family Farm birds preseasoned with garlic, Esplette pepper, and oregano, ready to pop in the oven. “We do these at least once a week.”