If you’ve ever wondered what chefs keep in their fridges you now have an answer in Carrie Solomon and Adrian Moore’s handsome new book, Inside Chefs’ Fridges, Europe. The title of the book does not mislead; it features the fridges and their contents of forty chefs from around the continent. Each chef is given his or her own chapter and there are recipes, which are, I guess, useful, but they’re hardly the point. What we want is an insight into the cooking of these chefs through what they keep at home. We hope that it will be like looking inside their heads.
Food fashions being what they are, there’s a perhaps unsurprising continuity in the contents of these fridges; the esoterica of pickles and ferments, japanese vinegars, sriracha, Heinz ketchup. Indeed, Inaki Aizpitarte of Le Chateaubriand in Paris has an entire collection of hot sauce. He also uses his fridge for food experiments and only cleans it when they begin to rot. I can sympathise with that.
Akrame Benallal, of Akrame in Paris, has one of the best stocked fridges (as well as one of the worst shirts). He talks about what he eats at home and how it differs from what he serves in his restaurant, despite cooking more or less the same in both places. One of his family’s favourite dishes is an Algerian milk soup with angel hair pasta. The version he serves in his restaurant has pasta that is hand cut, aged Parmesan and white Alba truffles grated over it. The version he serves at home does not. I’m sorry he doesn’t give a recipe for either version.
You might begin to think that, in the way hairdressers have the worst hairdos, chefs have the worst diets. This is true to an extent; they grab mouthfuls of this and that as they work. Many of these chefs say they almost never cook at home, which may explain why so many of their fridges don’t appear to contain the ingredients for a meal. Maybe they’re more resourceful than we are when cooking dinner.
Several keep tomatoes cold, something others tell us ruins their texture and flavour. Odder still is seeing honey on a shelf: there’s no need to refrigerate honey; it has been found edible after being disinterred from the tombs of pharaohs. I didn’t expect to see whole salamis, either, or, most peculiarly, unopened tins of mackerel. Perhaps they were put there by a stylist.