Chefs Reveal the 20 Items They Never Make from Scratch
Here’s what 20 chefs—including Alex Guarnaschelli, Nina Compton, and Norman Van Aken—will never make themselves.
Helene Henderson, the Swedish-born chef known for her pioneering farm-to-table work at Malibu Farm, isn’t one for eggs. That’s why she buys Just Mayo’s pre-made vegan mayonnaise, which can be found at almost any major retailer, like Walmart and Target.
Chefs, they’re just like us. Well, sort of. At their restaurants, many of them, including Nina Compton, Michelle Bernstein, and Jeremy Ford, are buried deep inside their kitchens, smoking meats, baking breads, and even growing their own fruits and vegetables. But at home, sometimes it’s just easier for them to pick up Heinz Ketchup or a can of olives instead of cooking from scratch. Check out the 20 ingredients these chefs always prefer to buy than make.
Here’s what chefs will never make themselves.
“It's such great stuff from Belazu, and I always find myself using it for something! Right now, I’m using it in a lamb shank braise to give it some depth and heat.” –Karen Akunowicz, chef, restaurateur, and cookbook author
“It’s made with black olive purée, olive oil, basil, and thyme. I buy it to avoid pitting the olives. Usually, tapenade is made with small olives from Provence, which are pain to pit. Use it as a dip for crudités, or as a spread on a sandwich. It also stays well in the fridge.” – Daniel Boulud, chef, restaurateur, and founder of The Dinex Group
“It’s an aged garlic––fermented and aged in whiskey barrels. I attempted to make it, and it was a disaster. The first two attempts were unsuccessful and completely moldy. The third time it smelled like death!” – Jeremy Ford, chef and partner of Stubborn Seed
“I don't like eggs that much, and I find the homemade mayonnaises taste too "eggy" for me.” – Helene Henderson, cookbook author, chef, and owner of Malibu Farm
Macaroni and cheese
“I try to make most things myself when it’s for myself or my wife, but dishes for the kids become a little more challenging as they’re picky and young. The one dish I never try to make them, after trying many times to no avail, is macaroni and cheese. I can’t compete with the box and the frozen brands!” – Michael Schulson, chef, restaurateur, and founder of the Schulson Collective
“I’m one of those people who can literally dip everything into mayo, from fries, to chips and pizza crust. While making a simple mayonnaise is easy, the classic flavor of Hellman’s is hard to beat.” – Paula DaSilva, executive chef at The Ritz-Carlton Fort Lauderdale
Bacon and smoked salmon
“I would definitely rather purchase flour than make it myself. It’s quite labor intensive and requires special grinding processes for the grains. I say leave that to the pros! I get beautifully freshly milled flour from Bellegarde Bakery in New Orleans. It makes all the difference in my pastas and breads. The product is unbeatable, so why would I try to replicate it?” – Nina Compton, and chef and owner Compère Lapin and Bywater American Bistro
Pastries and cakes
“It's not really a convenience thing. It’s more like I’m not going to do it better than some other people out there, like Steve Santana at Taquiza in Miami. Beautiful blue corn tortillas made fresh with just the right texture, moisture, and flavor. Yeah, I’ll leave it to him.” – Michael Schwartz, chef, cookbook author, restaurateur, and founder of Genuine Hospitality Group
Sir Kensington’s Ketchup
“Heinz makes one of the best, but Sir Kensington’s goes neck and neck with them. Just depends on my mood.” – Michael Beltran, chef and owner of Ariete
Crystal Hot Sauce
“Home fermentation has become much more popular, and I do like making hot sauce for specific applications. But as for something I can eat every day, it doesn’t get better than Crystal.” – Levi Raines, chef and partner of Bywater American Bistro