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6 Local Chefs Share Their Go-To Ingredients

ambassador chefs go-to ingredients

The best cooks have their favorite special ingredients that they always keep in their pantry or fridge. Here, some of the Greenwich Wine + Food Ambassador Chefs share their go-tos.

Joe Giordano’s Go-To ingredient: Truffles

ambassador chefs go-to ingredients

“It can be used in anything from hors d’oeuvres to entrées. I was introduced to the ingredient when I was a young chef and have loved using it ever since. It should only be used with high-end ingredients and served in its natural form.

Gabriele’s Italian Steakhouse, Greenwich, CT



Christian Petroni’s Go-To ingredient: 
Kewpie Mayonnaise

ambassador chefs go-to ingredients“I love it because it is so delicious and creamy and has great umami. It is like a blank canvas, great for flavoring mayonnaise, making grilled cheeses—you name it, there is nothing this mayo can’t do. Try using kewpie mayo next time you make a grilled cheese; you would be surprised at how crispy your bread comes out and how delicious it is.”

Fortina in Stamford, CT, and Armonk, Rye Brook, Yonkers and Brooklyn, NY


Brian Reilly’s Go-To Ingredient: 
Bonito Flakes

ambassador chefs go-to ingredients“It’s not just for steeping in broth or topping dashi-based dishes. It can be added to lots of things to add smoke and umami flavor with a slight hint of fish. I like to put in marinade for steaks, lamb, fish or pork. I also like to grind it into a powder and use it as a rub or blend it with other salts and spices.”

Mecha Noodle Bar in Fairfield, South Norwalk and New Haven, CT


Arturo Franco-Camacho’s Go-To Ingredient: Kaffir Lime Leaves

ambassador chefs go-to ingredients“They are often used in Indonesian cuisine—chicken dishes, curries, soups and stews—giving a nice, aromatic, citrusy flavor to food, while remaining delicate and not overpowering. Kaffir lime leaves are very versatile, providing a delicate citrus finish to soups, stews, rice and more. They can even be used in drinks or beverages, and in many countries, the oil from the leaves is used as a medicine. You can purchase Kaffir locally in Asian markets. It lasts a long time, but I recommend keeping it in the freezer to keep the strength of the flavor. I often use it as a substitute for lime juice in a recipe—it holds the citrus flavor much more consistently than traditional lime juice.”

Shell & Bones Oyster Bar and Grill, New Haven, CT, and Geronimo Tequila Bar & Southwest Grill in Fairfield and New Haven, CT

Geoff Lazlo’s Go-To Ingredient: Black Garlic

ambassador chefs go-to ingredients“I like to use black garlic as an unsung hero of flavor and umami. It is a slowly fermented garlic clove that is sweet and earthy. Its texture is soft and can be spread or easily worked into a sauce. The fermentation process changes the fiery heat of raw garlic into a sweetly smooth umami bomb. One of my favorite sauces to make is black garlic aioli and it is used as a condiment to one of my most popular dishes, crispy sweet potatoes, black garlic aioli and salsa verde.”

Geoff Lazlo Food, Greenwich, CT

Luke Venner’s Go-To Ingredient: Terre Bormaine Condimento Bianco
(White Balsamic Vinegar)

ambassador chefs go-to ingredients“I prefer it for many things because of its bright, semi-sweet and slightly tannic profile. Because its acidity is only 5.4 percent—much less then most other vinegars I use—it has the ability to really enhance a dish while kind of fading into the background. It’s confusing because you know you like it, but you don’t necessarily know it’s there. We use it on everything from greens and vegetables to raw seafood.”

Elm, New Canaan, CT

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