Executive Chef Mogan Anthony Of Village Social Discusses The Contents Of His Refrigerator

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?

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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. 

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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?

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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! 

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