What Do the Most Innovative Chefs Keep in Their Fridges?

A new book gives a peek inside the home refrigerators—and minds—of some of Europe’s top culinarians

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smithsonian.com

Chefs are the mad scientist-innovators of the 21st century. They play with vacuum chambers and liquid nitrogen, turn butter into powder and olive oil into caviar, forage for obscure vegetables and experiment with bubbling vats of brine.

For those who find all of this fascinating, a new book, Inside Chef’s Fridges, Europe, by food writer Adrian Moore and photographer Carrie Solomon, gives us a peek into the home refrigerators—and imaginations—of some of the world’s top food trailblazers. There are more than 40 chefs featured, some internationally famous (patissier Pierre Hermé, TV personality Marco Pierre White), others respected up-and-comers. Each chapter includes recipes—most achievable by the home cook. 

The book's forward is written by Nathan Myhrvold, the former chief technology officer of Microsoft who took a break from the tech world to research and write 2011’s six-volume, 2,438-page Modernist Cuisine, a cookbook which breaks down barriers between food and science with techniques like centrifuging cream and using ultrasonic homogenizers to make purees. In the forward, Myhrvold gives an ode to the refrigerator, reminding us that the most taken-for-granted of kitchen fixtures is, in fact, one of humanity’s most important inventions. “If you really want to learn about a person, look in their refrigerator instead of their medicine cabinet,” he writes. “Those chilly time capsules are windows into where and how we live, and, ultimately, who we are.”

While the fridges in the book have plenty of ordinary ingredients—tonic water, Tabasco sauce, yogurt and green peppers—what makes them interesting are the funky, out-there foodstuffs you may never have heard of—stuffed goat’s tripe, fermented daikon radish juice, winter’s bark leaves, asparagus ice cream and sea buckthorn sorbet. 

Bo Bech, Denmark

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(Courtesy of Taschen)

Though chef Bo Bech is best known in his native Denmark for hosting the country’s version of "Kitchen Nightmares," he made his bones helming Michelin-starred Restaurant Paustian and Geist in Copenhagen. His fridge is a science lab of exotic fermented foods. There are wild garlic seeds in brine, capers in butter whey, fermented elderberry flowers, brined rosehips and juniper berries in apple vinegar. The ancient practice of fermentation has lately attracted some of the food world’s most curious minds, who experiment with time, temperature, pH and salt level in search of the ideal way to preserve and enhance flavors. 

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