The Contents of a Person’s Refrigerator Are the Most Telling

Forget a person’s bookshelves, their Facebook page, or their medicine cabinet. Especially when that person’s a chef.



Anything in there really old or of unknown origins? An old jar of Gold’s Horseradish—we live in a house that my wife’s parents lived in, so it’s probably from a 1970s Seder. There are a few science experiments as well, as my wife, Wendy, is a saver, so I perform a fairly routine Monday Night Clean. For my home fridge, there’s a four-day rule for leftovers; at Plates, it’s two days.  

Rate your fridge from 1 (an ungodly mess) to 10 (I may have OCD). Before Monday night, a 6; after, an 8. 

Item that would impress a foodie (Siberian caviar, for example?) Brown Norwegian brunost [a sweet table cheese made by boiling milk, cream, and whey]. 

Any embarrassing fake foods, i.e., Cool Whip or Cheez Whiz, et cetera? Not presently, but I’m not embarrassed to say I will not shy away from Velveeta. So melt-y.  

Random/unusual items in the door shelf? Corky’s BBQ Sauce out of Memphis; Ronnybrook Farm Cinnamon Toast Butter—for 20 years I had plain butter in the butter compartment, but recently I’ve become obsessed with this product. I figure, why waste all that energy sprinkling sugar and cinnamon on my toast? I’m saving seconds. 

You’re a big fan of CSAs. How’s that working out? With CSAs [community supported agriculture], there’s always mystery produce you get along with the recognizable stuff. Presently, I have tiny Forelle pears as well as quince, which I poach with simple syrup—star anise, water, cinnamon, and sugar—a recipe from when I worked at Bouley in the 1990s. I’m also swimming in apples, broccoli rabe—which every Westchesterite seems to love—ginger for tea, and lots of chopped onions and garlic; my housekeeper, Odelia, has mad kitchen skills. 

How’s the dairy situation? Trying to lose weight so sticking to skim milk with healthy cereals. I do, however, have a dark side with cereal—mixing Fruity Pebbles (for the texture of rice and flavor of the “fruits,” of course), plus Crunch Berries, and Franken Berry. There will never be a chemist shortage with cereals like these.  

What is the Karp family drinking? Red Jacket Orchards all-fruit juices out of Geneva, New York, in the Finger Lakes. Not much in the way of alcoholic drinks as I’m doing an Ironman Triathlon in Panama City Beach, Florida, my fifth one. Six to seven months of training is a long time without Fruity Pebbles. 

Any non-food items in there? No, but when I met my wife she kept her shoes in her oven for lack of closet space.

Let’s talk the really cold stuff, as in 32˚F and below. Ben and Jerry’s (Phish Food!) is almost always in the freezer. I’ll run for two hours, have something healthy from Andy’s Pure Food, but then ruin it all with ice cream.  

What’s your favorite item hanging on the refrigerator? A Wanted poster of my daughter Marion with a mustache and cowboy hat from a cowboy-themed birthday party. When I dropped her off, she was afraid to leave the car. I wasn’t sure why. In the poster, she is smiling but you can see she was still a little upset. So in the mornings, I say to her ‘I’m going to hunt someone today.” And she always replies, ‘Oh dad, that one again.’   

You have a secondary fridge in the basement. Why? It’s for the misfit/surplus food. There’s a CSA box of craggily Jerusalem artichokes. Also maple syrup from Vermont ski trips, some of which may be 10 years old.