What does Mambo 64 Chef Arlen Gargaliano Keep In Her Refrigerator?

Learning what the Tuckahoe professional chef considers worthy of everyday use.

What could you make for dinner from your current contents if, say, the in-laws show up unexpectedly? Considering I work in a restaurant and eat there all the time, my fridge shouldn’t be as packed as it is. But I always have lots of different salsas, cheeses (Trader Joe’s Monterey Jack and Mexican Blend), and tortillas (the flour variety from Trader Joe’s and corn variety from Viva Grande in New Rochelle), so I’d make quesadillas. Or a tortilla Espanola. 

Anything in there old or of unknown origins? Coconut milk in a quart container from a Memorial Day appearance [this interview was conducted on June 12] on Primera Ediciòn, Telemundo’s morning show, where I made Coco Loco—like a non-alcoholic Piña Colada.  

Item that would impress a foodie (Siberian caviar, for example?) Aji amarillo or Peruvian yellow peppers. And Salsa Lizano, which is a Costa Rican variation on Worcestershire. 

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Rate your fridge from 1 (an ungodly mess) to 10 (I may have OCD). Three. I usually keep it cleaner but I’ve been busy lately. 

Fussy about any staple being organic, fair trade, etc? I try to go organic with milk (Horizon 2%) and Tierra Farm coffee and nut butters, plus stay local with produce from farmers’ markets. Also, my sister-in-law, who lives in Carmel, New York, has approximately 15 chickens and gave me some fresh eggs—you can tell the difference! 

Random/unusual items in the door shelf? Chef Johnson’s hot sauce (he has a food truck at Mamaroneck’s Harbor Island Park). Also, New Salem Preserves Cider Syrup (an apple syrup), which I put on coconut pancakes or French toast.  

Is your family more carnivore or herbivore? We go through cycles. At one point both my kids were vegetarians. I was supportive, cooking a lot of bean dishes and quinoa, which is a high-protein grain, but was concerned about them getting enough proteins. 

My son Wes went back to eating meat after studying environmental farming in Ecuador where he was often a guest in other people’s homes and couldn’t demand special meals, so he ate what was served—often meat. 

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Sofia, my daughter, just called me one day and said, ‘I’m about to eat a grilled chicken sandwich.’ I told her to go for it, and that was that for vegetarians in my family.   

Is every area designated for certain things or is it more of a free for all? Although messy, I do have designated areas: condiments on top shelf and in the doors; juices/milk on one side of middle shelf and yogurt/nuts/cream cheese on the other; eggs/veggies (carrots, baby greens, mixed greens) strawberries/cheeses in bottom drawers. I also have a junk drawer; in it now are leftover coconut pancakes and meatballs. 

Any non-food items in there? My tooth whitener, but I can’t find the tooth mold to put it in. I’ll have to search the junk drawer.   

Let’s talk the really cold stuff, as in 32° F and below.  My husband is a Häagen-Dazs addict—has chocolate most every night. I was on an Edy’s Rocky Road kick for a while, but now it’s Ben & Jerry’s Pistachio Pistachio or Ciao Bella’s blood orange or coconut gelatos. There’s also packages of frozen fruit from Trader Joe’s for Sofia to make her smoothies, five bags of semi-sweet chocolate chips for making brownies and cookies, a bottle of Absolut Citron, and Pastosa Tortellini.  

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