What’s In Winston Chef Michael Williams’ Refrigerator?
The food, drinks, and other assorted oddities you’ll find instead a top chef’s fridge.
Q: What could you serve for dinner from your current refrigerator contents if, say, a long-lost relative showed up unexpectedly?
A: I don’t have anything I could serve in the fridge! But I have beef bourguignon and chicken cacciatore in the freezer, so I would defrost one of those.
Q: You’re starving—what kind of sandwich could you make yourself for lunch?
A: I have a bag of rolls in the freezer, so I would defrost a roll and then make a sandwich of Gruyère or Comté, Dijon mustard, and cornichon on the side.
Q: Any embarrassing fake foods, like Cool Whip or Cheez Whiz?
A: No, I don’t eat that stuff. I haven’t had Cheez Whiz since college.
Q: Any leftovers?
A: I have steak leftover from last night—simply seared with salt and pepper. It’s on a plate with some mashed potatoes.
Q: Most exciting condiment?
A: I have a jar of salt-fermented baby shrimp [aka Saeujeot—a Korean ingredient often found in kimchi]. I also make my own fruit syrups. I simmer the fruit with sugar and water. Right now I have wild raspberry, date, and ume (Japanese plum).
Q: Are you fussy about any staple being organic, fair trade, et cetera?
A: Not really. My coffee is organic. I buy all natural when it’s available, but I don’t go crazy.
Q: Where do you do most of your shopping?
A: I get most of my staples from the nearby A&P. But most of the oils and vinegars that I use at home I buy on Amazon because they have a vast selection, more than you will find at any supermarket. And they are more reasonably priced.
Q: What’s in your produce drawer?
A: I have two. Carrots, leeks, shallots, radicchio, romaine, garlic, jalapeños, green bell peppers, poblano peppers, Thai bird chilies, and Japanese mushrooms.
Q: What dairy products are in your fridge?
A: I don’t drink a lot of milk, but you will always find a nice selection of cheeses in my fridge: Comté, goat cheese, extra-sharp Vermont Cheddar, Gruyère, Reggiano. And butter, I always keep butter in my fridge.
Q: Is there anything that shouldn’t be in there—tomatoes, for example?
A: No tomatoes. I don’t keep strawberries in the fridge, either. I also never keep my dry items like salt, sugar, rice, flour, et cetera, in the fridge. They’ll become compromised because they begin the condensation process as soon as you take them out of the fridge.
Q: Any non-food items in there?
A: Vitamins. And cream for after you get a sunburn. It feels good when it’s nice and cold.
Q: Rate your fridge from 1 (an ungodly mess) to 10 (I may have OCD).
A: I would say it’s about an 8. It’s clean, but some things are not in the right place.
Q: You named your new restaurant after your dog. Is there anything of his in there?
A: I sometimes bring scraps home from the restaurant for Winston and Bruce, and I keep the extras in a drawer in the fridge.
Q: Let’s talk the really cold stuff—what’s in your freezer?
A: Häagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream, dried nori sheets, corn tortillas, and butter from Normandy. It’s 94 percent fat—and amazingly good.
Q: What’s your favorite thing on the front of your refrigerator?
A: There isn’t really much—two Apple computer stickers. And I have a button that I found on the ground when I was walking one day. It says, ‘I had a nightmare I was you.’ It’s a reminder to myself of who I do not want to become.