Executive Chef Mogan Anthony Of Village Social Discusses The Contents Of His Refrigerator
Forget a person’s bookshelves, Facebook page, personal email inbox, or medicine cabinet: The contents of a home refrigerator are the most telling—especially when the person is a chef.
What could you make for dinner from your current refrigerator contents if, say, the in-laws show up unexpectedly?
I have a bunch of veggies from Chinatown—Chinese broccoli, bok choy, string beans—so I’d do a sauté with crispy garlic and Chinese oyster sauce. I shop in Chinatown three or four times a week, usually for the restaurants [Village Social in Mount Kisco and Locali in New Canaan, Connecticut].
Is anything in there really old or of unknown origins?
There’s a ball of dried shrimp that must be 5 years old. I love lots of umami flavor, so I use a bit of it now and again, usually in a homemade fish stock or as a base for a sauce for a fish dish I’m cooking for dinner. My wife, Celeste, does a lot more cooking at home than me; we met in Singapore while working at The Four Seasons. [He was front-of-the-house, she was a pastry chef.] It’s a melting pot there, a lot of Thai, Japanese, and Malaysian restaurants.
Rate your fridge from 1 (an ungodly mess) to 10 (I may have OCD).
A 7 or 8; my wife keeps it clean and tight. If I was a bachelor, it would likely be beyond recognition.
Any embarrassing fake foods, like Cool Whip or Cheez Whiz?
I keep away from artificial foods.
Are you fussy about any staple being organic, fair trade, et cetera?
When I worked for Jean-Georges seven or eight years ago, he said a great product doesn’t have to be organic but more importantly humanely raised, if meat, and local, if produce. I believe in that, and I work with farmers that might not be organic but care about the work they do, have good soil, run a clean operation, and thus produce good products.
Anything not allowed in your fridge?
No soda, corn syrup-based products, or artificial dyes. I have a 7-month-old [Laxmi-Kim], and I won’t feed her these things.
Random/unusual items on the door shelf?
Huy Fong Foods brand Sambal Oelek Chili Paste, a spicy fermented chili paste
What is the source of most of your refrigerator’s contents?
Whole Foods Port Chester. I live in Greenwich, but on the border, so this location is convenient.
Is the Anthony household more carnivore or herbivore?
I eat meat, but mostly chicken and fish. I grew up in a vegetarian household—my mom is Hindu—so I’ve been influenced to slant vegetarian.
What’s the milk situation?
Almond milk, the Whole Foods 365 brand. I put it in corn flakes with chia seeds for breakfast.
What about the alcohol situation?
I have Veuve Clicquot Champagne. We poured it for guests at a dinner of steamed whole black bass.
Sweets or snacks?
Valrhona chocolate from France. Really a baking chocolate, but my wife and I eat it straight.
Any non-food items in there?
If I put anything like that in there, my wife would divorce me!
Let’s talk the really cold stuff, as in 32°F and below.
There’s a bunch of screwpine leaf from Chinatown—it’s common in many Asian countries and used as vanilla is in the West. You put it in drinks, desserts, and rice. Most recently, I used it to make a broth for laksa, which is essentially Malaysian ramen.
What’s your favorite thing hanging on the front of your refrigerator?
My wife is into feng shui and has a wooden sign with Chinese writing that translates to “prosperity and good fortune.”
I hear you also have a mini-fridge?
Yes, for all the baby food, so formula plus organic chicken and milk powder. The latter two get puréed—the baby loves it!