How Do They Do It? Chefs Share Their Secret Weapons in the Kitchen


When it comes to recreating our favorite restaurant dishes at home, there are some tricks to the trade that we’ll never know. That is, unless we ask the chefs themselves. We peered into the kitchens of some of the most prominent restaurants in the country to find out their best-kept culinary secrets. For those curious diners and eager home cooks looking to up your game, here are a few professional tips you’ll want to know.

Jimmy Bannos, restaurateur, Heaven on Seven in Chicago, IL


Heaven on Seven

Secret Weapon: Wondra Flour, you can use it to coat anything to fry it, and you can use it to thicken a sauce.

Jesse Schenker, chef/owner of The Gander in Flatiron


The Gander

Secret Weapon: Roasted garlic and thyme puree, It enhances all my savory dishes. It’s a quick way to add flavor without any fat.

Chris Jaeckle, chef of Uma Temakeria in Chelsea


Uma Temakeria

My secret weapon is yuzu kosho [a fermented Japanese seasoning made from chili peppers, yuzu peel, and salt]. It packs citrus and heat all in one. 

Angie Mar, chef/owner of The Beatrice Inn in the West Village


The Beatrice Inn

Secret Weapon: A great team and lots of herbs.

Rebecca Weitzman, chef at Chalk Point Kitchen in SoHo


Chalk Point Kitchen

I am really into using fresh turmeric and ancient grains such as amaranth right now. Turmeric has so many applications with vegetable, legume, and grain preparations. It gives both a healthy little kick of flavor and pairs well with many fresh herbs… [and] it lends a beautiful, natural color!

Patrick Russ, chef at Terra & Vine in Evanston, IL

One of my favorite secret weapons in the kitchen is Apple Saba, specifically La Vecchia Dispensa brand. It’s a sweet syrup made from the must of apples [freshly pressed fruit juice that contains the skins, seeds, and stems of the fruit]. I use it to finish dishes all time. It elevates the dish to a whole other level. We’ve used it on everything from Brussels sprouts and pizza to cheese plates and ice cream! It just works. 

Katsuji Tanabe, chef/owner of Mexikosher on the Upper West Side 



Secret Weapons: Avocado leavesmiso paste, dry chilies.

Jimmy Bannos Jr, chef at The Purple Pig in Chicago, IL


The Purple Pig

Secret Weapon: Roasted garlic is always good to have on hand. It makes any recipe taste better.

In case you missed it, we also recently asked our chef and bartender friends to tell us where they go for their late-night munchies and the perfect breakfast sandwich.