The Refrigerator Zone: Chef Nick Di Bona Of Madison Kitchen In Larchmont
Forget a person’s bookshelves, Facebook page, personal email inbox, or medicine cabinet; the contents of a home refrigerator are the most telling. Especially for a chef.
What could you make for dinner from your current contents if, say, friends were to show up unexpectedly? There’s a container of venison Bolognese I could serve that I made at the restaurant. The meat is from a deer I killed. I bow hunt in Yorktown [where I grew up] October through December. Northern Westchester has free-range/organic wild protein you can eat!
Anything in there really old or of unknown origin? Old quesadillas from the BLD Diner in Larchmont. It was late-night drunk food.
Item that would impress a foodie (e.g., Siberian caviar?) A Buddha’s Hand, which is an unusually shaped Asian citrus fruit with finger-like sections. There’s no juice or pulp in it, but I used the zest to make a delicious sorbet for Village Social in Mount Kisco. There’s also French Kiss oysters from the restaurant. I don’t go grocery shopping much; the restaurant is my grocery store.
Fussy about any staple being organic, fair trade, local, etc.? Not one item in particular, but I have a strong appreciation for local ingredients. I used to work at Peter Pratt’s [2001-13] in Yorktown, where they make honey from their own hives, tap maple trees and grow wild herbs.
Anything not allowed in your fridge (e.g., soda?) You won’t find soda in there, but once a month I’ll have Diet Coke out of the gun at the restaurant. Twice a year I’ll get on a health kick where I try to eat better.
A late-night snack craving hits, what do you reach for in your fridge? Mortadella [from a purveyor at work]. As healthy as I want to imagine I’m being, I can’t resist dried, cured meats.
Any random/unusual items on the door shelf? Nope, just some Boar’s Head deli mustard. I’m around food so much, I tend to be boring with what I have at home. But I’m always thinking about exciting food concepts. At 3 a.m., I’ll text my sous chef with new dish ideas. The latest is a “McDonald’s” dinner. We’re testing a house-made version of the Egg McMuffin, with homemade English muffins and smoked homemade sausage. We may tackle the Big Mac and do chicken-nugget sliders, too.
How’s the dairy situation? Whole milk only—all the other stuff is fake. One percent and skim milk, forget it.
What are you drinking? I make my own infused lemon, orange, and cucumber waters. And if it’s been a hard day, I always have a Scotch around but not in the fridge.
Let’s talk the really cold stuff, as in 32°F and below. My freezer has a bottle of Tito’s Vodka, plus my Bona Bona Ice Cream. It’s all natural and as local as we can be, and it got me a win on Chopped. I spent a small fortune on a Carpigiani Gelato Machine from Italy—like the BMW M5 of gelato machines. My ice cream is a hybrid of gelato (spins slowly and no eggs) and American ice cream (40 percent dairy cream). We’ve made a root-beer flavor for The Parlor in Dobbs Ferry and zabaglione ice cream with sweet Marsala wine for Fortina—that one we made an exception and put eggs in it.
What’s your favorite item hanging on the refrigerator? A drawing of concept plans for a Bona Bona Ice Cream Shop, opening in 2017.
What’s on top of the fridge? A giant bottle of Sangiovese wine that a purveyor gave to me. I’ve been meaning to bring it to parties; I just haven’t been invited to any lately.