Step Into Chef Rui Correia's Refrigerator

Forget a person’s bookshelves, Facebook page, personal email inbox, or medicine cabinet; the contents of a home refrigerator are the most telling. Especially a chef’s.

What could you make for dinner if say, the in-laws showed up unexpectedly, from your current contents?

I have eggs, veggies—tomatoes, asparagus, peppers—and good butter  [Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter] so a frittata. I usually cook relatively light at home because I’m always tasting and experimenting at work.

Anything in there really old or of unknown origin?

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No. I’m in a profession where keeping things fresh is a priority. And the good thing about having a restaurant is you have a running inventory and you can bring home items as you need, from cheese to chorizo.  

Any item that would impress a foodie (Siberian caviar for example)?

Sottocenere, a semi-firm cow’s-milk cheese aged 90 days that I bought from Whole Foods. 

Rate your fridge from 1 (don’t open without hazmat suit) to 10 (I may have OCD).

At least a 9! I’m constantly rotating stuff and am in charge of the fridge and all the cooking for that matter—except monkey bread, which my wife, Dana, makes a few times a year. She handles laundry, so it’s a pretty even trade.  

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Any embarrassing fake foods, like Cool Whip, Cheez Whiz, or something like that?

Nothing. I keep my eating at home as light, natural, and healthy as possible due to my richer eating habits at work. My wife does the same, as she is in the business, too—front-of-the-house manager for both Gaia and Douro and previously at STK–NYC in the Meatpacking district. 

Fussy about any staple being organic, fair trade, etc.?

Veggies and dairy to a degree, but it’s not always accessible because of the expense. More important to me than eating organic however is eating seasonal; eating what is at its peak creates a nice diversity of diet and helps your system stay healthy. Too many people—especially Americans—fall into a routine of eating what they like regardless of whether or not it’s in season. I go to Europe twice a year, to sample foods, and the expression “I’ll have my usual” doesn’t exist. It’s an American thing. Europeans eat much more seasonally. And not just produce but fish and game. A European restaurant is much more likely than an American one to tell the diner “We don’t have that now.”

Anything not allowed in your fridge (e.g., soda?)

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Soda for sure—we drink sparkling water and wine. But also you’ll never see leftover fast casual Chinese food cartons. Too oily, full of sodium, and the ingredients they use are low-end.

How is the meat situation?

I love dried meats, so there’s chorizo, prosciutto, and mole salumi that’s made with Mexican chocolate.  

And produce?

Clementines, Asian pears, baby greens, kale, spinach, and Kumato tomatoes and cherry tomatoes—in-season stuff!

Got milk?

Don’t drink milk—I don’t think adults need it, unlike kids—and there are better sources of calcium, like Greek Yogurt. We eat siggi’s and Fage.

What is the Correia family drinking?

Pellegrino, Dogfish Head Namaste 4-pack, plus wine, which is what I usually have with dinner. I have a personal collection, about 200 bottles, many of which are Portuguese reds. I was born in Porto, Portugal, and lived there until age 9 (I just became a US citizen this year). But I also have Italian reds, plus Pinot Noirs and Cabs from California. 

Sweets/snacks?

Dark-chocolate-covered almonds 

Let’s talk the really cold stuff, as in 32°F and below.

Nothing tastes the same after it’s frozen, so the only thing I’ll have in my freezer is ice cream. Häagen-Dazs java chip is my flavor of choice. 

What’s your favorite item hanging on the refrigerator?

My favorite thing is nothing! I’m a minimalist when it comes to décor. 

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