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March 30, 2010

Flavors on the Culinary Radar

We asked eight of America’s most prominent and innovative chefs to weigh in on the foods and ingredients they’re obsessed with this season. Below, an insider’s look at what’s new in the larder and how chefs are combining flavors to create exotic dishes.

MING TSAI
BLUE GINGER
Wellesley, MA

Tea, Hand-Smoked Salt
"You’ll start seeing tea in savory dishes—in braises or spice rubs. Also chefs are making their own salts: Ours is hickory smoked in a wok and blended with herbs."

DAVID MEYER
SONA
Los Angeles

Ogo
"Ogo is fresh seaweed, and before now I’ve never been able to get my hands on it. It’s so clean and fresh, you can never go back to the dried variety."

GEOFFREY ZAKARIAN
TOWN, COUNTRY
New York

Chestnuts
"As always, product and quality rule the day. But I am fascinated with chestnuts—chestnut soufflé, chestnut chips, chestnuts roasted over sea salt."

ANDREW CARMELLINI
A VOCE
New York

Red Wattle Pork
"I use this pork exclusively now—it’s a rare heritage meat that is incredibly flavorful, tender, and lean. I’ve served the tenderloin wrapped in pancetta, with polenta."

MARCUS SAMUELSSON
AQUAVIT, AQ CAFE
New York

Harissa
"At the moment, I am interested in finding new uses for North African spice blends such as the chile pepper-based harissa, ras elhanout, and berbere."

GORDON RAMSAY
GORDON RAMSAY AT THE LONDON
New York

Harissa, White Truffles
"Harissa is trendy now because it adds depth and flavor to a dish. White truffles are rarely available, but their aroma and flavor are practically indescribable."

DAVID CHANG
MOMOFUKU NOODLE BAR, MOMOFUKU SSAM BAR
New York

Kimchee
"We purée it with garlic, ginger, and krill, which are small salted shrimp. At Ssäm people put it inside Asian burrito-like wraps with pork and rice, just like salsa."

WYLIE DUFRESNE
WD-50
New York

Malt
"The nutritious powder made from grain flavors our chestnut soup with salmon threads and celery, which we’re serving as an amuse-bouche."