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A FRESH Point of View: A Chef Stocks Your Pantry

What do great chefs have that you may not? A well-stocked pantry. All good cooks know that if you have a few key spices and ingredients on hand, you can make a meal out of practically anything.

My list of pantry must-haves is pretty simple: a few herbs, some spices, ingredients for my favorite soups and sauces. My list, below, can be a good starting point for you to customize to your own tastes. To do that, think of your own five favorite recipes, the dishes the family always requests or that you like to pull out for company. Look over the key ingredients, and then check your pantry to see what’s there. Anything that’s missing should go on the grocery list, stat.

Stock up, and you won’t have to resort to take-out the next time soccer practice runs late or you have to stay an extra hour at the office.

  • Kosher salt
  • Black and white peppercorns
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Dijon mustard
  • Fresh thyme
  • Fresh tarragon
  • Dry mustard
  • Celery seed
  • “Swamp Dust” or Ole Bay seasoning
  • Coriander seed
  • Chicken stock
  • Yellow onions
  • Shallots
  • BUTTER (The real thing; accept no substitute!)
  • Crème Fraiche (us Americans know it as “sour cream”)
  • Tomatoes (fresh if in season, canned if not)
  • Capers