Michael Psilakis is a lot of things: an award-winning chef and restauranteur, a father, a television personality, and a Greek-American, to name a few. He's known for his upscale Greek restaurants in New York and credits his mom for teaching him everything there is to know about the flavors and techniques of classic Greek cooking. (Awww!)
We could watch him cook in his restaurants all day, but what fascinates us the most about him (and all professional chefs, to be honest) is what happens at home. What does he cook on his days off? What does he buy at the supermarket? Luckily, we don't have to wonder anymore, as he graciously opened his (pantry) doors and let us take a look. He sent us photos and everything!
Here are the five things he always has on hand.
Here's what Michael had to say about what's in his pantry.
1. Canned Tomatoes
I can't live without tomatoes. Canned tomatoes are the perfect ingredient for long braises and stews — like Kokinisto and Yiouvetsi, which are found throughout Greece — as well as a sauce for pasta.
Get cooking: Simplest Spiced Lamb Stew
2. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
What would life be without it? It's the foundation of Greek cooking, it's everywhere and in everything. Not to mention the fact that a tremendous amount of research has been done over the past decade to show it reduces heart disease, high blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and potential for stroke.
I have a variety of vinegars, such as aged balsamic, sherry, red wine, champagne, and more. Bright acidity is found throughout all of Greece in dishes ranging from salads to pickles to stews and sauces. For me, it defines the basis of culinary expression for Greek food. Acid is a seasoning, not an ingredient; it goes on everything.
4. Whole Grains
Bulgur, quinoa, and amaranth are so versatile. I love to use them in salads, mix them into rice, and enjoy them on their own. They're a traditional component of many dishes found in Greek cuisine. My favorite would be the use of bulgur wheat in a Cypriot salad (which usually includes grains, yogurt, pomegranate seeds, and more).
More on These Whole Grains
5. Sparkling Water
Lots and lots of sparkling water. Mostly S.Pellegrino non-flavored and Poland Spring flavored. It's all we ever drink. My kids don't drink soda, so this is our vice.
Pick up his new book: Live to Eat: Cooking the Mediterranean Way, $30
Thanks, Michael, for letting us take a peek in your pantry!