For most people, colder weather means sweaters and hot cocoa. But for those in the culinary industry, it also means a wealth of new ingredients to play with in the kitchen—from seasonal root vegetables to an abundance of fresh seafood options. Recently Departures reached out to chefs across the country to tell us their favorite fall ingredients.
Here's what they had to say.
Chef Morimoto, Iron Chef
"Fall is the best time of the year for these kinds of fish: Sanma, Nodoguro, and Kan-Saba. Nodoguro is rich in (good) fatty acids and very delicious. Tuna, salmon, and yellowtail are the most popular overseas, but my goal is to start to introduce other fish to people that are not well known yet."
Executive Chef Giuseppe Manco, The Restaurant at Mr. C Beverly Hills, Los Angeles
"I love butternut squash during the autumn season, which I use in making ravioli served with butter and fresh sage. Pomme Grenade (pomegranates) is another favorite seasonal ingredient as it reminds me of when I used to make marmalade with my grandmother in Italy."
Joe Ng, Master Dim Sum Master Chef at RedFarm, New York City
"Brussels sprouts! These baby cabbage-like orbs are a prime fall vegetable that is often overcooked and strong smelling. We sautee them with haricot vert. That way they're cooked and sauced brings out the best of each vegetable."
Henrik Ritzén, Executive Chef at Aquavit, New York City
"I love this time of year—there is so much wonderful produce around and plenty of things to choose from. One of my favorites is damson. This small, wild tart plum is great with game birds like grouse or mallard or in a delicious almond cake. Don’t miss out on great mussels and oysters as they are back in their prime now, having been in spawning season over the summer months."
Chef Haskell, Executive Chef for The Wilson at INNSIDE by Meliá New York NoMad, New York City
"Roasted Delicata Squash with soft mozzarella, pumpkin seeds, and spicy honey. I like to cook this dish because it's halfway between a salad and an appetizer. It can be enjoyed on its own or with a great loaf of bread!"
Timothy Hughes, Corporate Executive Chef at Fig & Olive, New York City
"Some of my favorite ingredients for the season include root vegetables in all shapes, sizes, and colors. But before that, we see local vegetables and produce in the form of kabocha squash, delicata squash, parsnips, pumpkins, salsify, and apples."
Chef Behzad Jamshidi, Chef & Founder of Moosh NYC
"Pumpkin is the quintessential ingredient of fall, and an amazing excuse to get creative with recipes and spices. My favorite varieties have to be Sugar Pie pumpkins for their sweet soft flesh or Blue Hokkaido pumpkins for their deep nutty flavor. I love to get them from the Union Square Farmer’s Market this time of the year, and roast them in a hot oven until soft, and turn them into a purée."
Nicole Centeno, Founder, and CEO of Splendid Spoon
"Pomegranate! The acidity is the perfect punch to fall’s deep flavors, plus those beautiful ruby seeds make any dish feel special. Pomegranates are super high in antioxidants which help our bodies with cellular repair."
Katie Button of Cúrate, Nightbell + Soon-to-open Button & Co. Bagels in Asheville, NC
"Hakurei turnips are just starting to pop up at the farmer's markets here in Asheville. I LOVE them because they are tender and sweet when roasted in the oven or grilled. The greens are delicious as well. We serve them with sherry, Marcona almonds, and orange zest. At home, I love to eat them simply with olive oil, sea salt, lemon zest, and a little piment d'espelette."
Jacqueline Mearman, Pastry Chef, Atlas Restaurant Group in Baltimore, MD
"This season my favorite ingredients are Satsumo Imo, the Japanese potato, and chestnut. I've been workshopping an ice cream made only of milk and the sweet, roasted potatoes. The remarkable flavor of this Japanese tuber brings sweet, savory and caramelized notes to the ice cream."
Linton Hopkins of Holeman & Finch, Restaurant Eugene and C. Ellet's in Atlanta, GA
"I love matsutake mushrooms for fall because of their herbaceous, balsam pine flavor. I usually poach them in a country ham hock broth to highlight that super smoky, balsam, and pine flavor."
Brooke Williamson, Winner of “Top Chef” Season 14, Co-chef & Co-owner of Company For Dinner
“Brussels sprouts and sweet squashes are my go-to’s for fall. Roasted acorn squash specifically brings back childhood memories, as my mom used to make acorn squash with loads of butter and brown sugar. For that reason, that’s always a winner in my head. Brussels sprouts, on the other hand, are one of those ingredients that people don’t realize they love until they’ve had them prepared well, which is a fun way to approach an ingredient to me.”
Executive Chef Rosie Gyulasaryan, The Victorian, Malibu
"I love working with different types of citrus. My favorite ones are Ruby Star grapefruits, clementines, and Lisbon lemons. I find pleasure in working with these type of seasonal citrus fruits for their aromas, as well as mixing them into savory dishes, particularly when they are ripe and in-season as they play off of the sweet and sour flavor profiles in the perfect way."
Chef Matt Christianson, Urban Farmer, Portland, OR
“Mushrooms are my favorite fall item. All summer, the ground dries out, and the first rains of the fall cool the ground and provide the moisture for mushrooms to thrive on. They carry with them the flavor of the woods--their existence represents the symbiosis of all the living organisms in the forest. (The Pacific Northwest sits on top of one of the largest mycological organism networks in the world.) My fall favorites, in order: Matsutaki, Chanterelle, and Bolete.”
Chef Rich Byers, The Corner Office, Denver
“Apples! Specifically Cortland. They are crispy, juicy, and tart, perfect for apple crisp. Beets are almost sweet this time of year. They are great in salads with local goat cheeses.”
Executive Chef Bryant Wigger at Tavernonna Italian Kitchen, Kansas City, KS
"Quince. Quince is a wonderful cross between apple and pear. It has a beautiful color and sweet-tart flavor. I love to make it into marmellata for fresh toasted bread and ricotta or add mustard seeds and use it with cured meat and cheese."
Executive Chef Bill Telepan of Oceana, New York City
“Growing up, my parents always served Brussels sprouts mushy and overcooked, which made them my least favorite vegetable as a kid. As an adult, though, I’ve discovered the versatility of the vegetable when prepared properly, which has now made it my favorite seasonal ingredient. Whether roasted in a sauté pan until caramelized or shredded into a hearty, flavorful salad, there are endless possibilities when it comes to cooking with Brussels sprouts!”
Chef Matt Kerney of Brass Heart, Chicago
“When the fall hits, I tend to start trying to tie maple syrup into every dish for the sweet component. It's extremely versatile and works in both savory and sweets applications. It makes great gastriques when mixed with Banyuls Vinegar, and Shallots. And a hot maple toddy is one the best winter campfire drinks of all time. When I think of fall I rarely think about pumpkin spice, I get excited for maple.”
David Park, Jeong (opening soon)
"The Korean sweet potato is one of my favorite ingredients in the fall because of its flavor and versatility. It lends itself well in savory dishes and shines in final courses. It also has a special place in my heart because of my childhood, eating them just simply roasted over a wood fire, a special memory that I share with my mom. I use it in many ways, but one of my favorites is to take them and roast them really hard until the sugars caramelized and the flavors concentrated and made a flavored cream into a custard. It gives them an amazing savory, nutty, sweet and almost chestnut-y flavor to the custard."
Chef Ryan McCaskey of Acadia, Chicago
A few of my favorite autumnal ingredients to use are squash, an obvious choice, but we always think of interesting ways to create new and interesting flavors with the many varieties; pumpkins, l love the flavor of pumpkin, and it takes me back to my childhood; and rutabaga, an underutilized root vegetable.
Chef Mark LoRusso of Costa di Mare at Wynn Las Vegas, Las Vegas
"Lumache snails from Southern Italy, which are available for the next few months. I cook them slowly in their shells with lemon, celery, onions, and herbs before removing their shells and thinly slicing them, and l serve them with penne, garlic and clam stock olive oil and finish the dish with bread crumbs, mint, oregano, and parsley."
Jeff Vucko, Travelle Kitchen + Bar, Chicago
“Heirloom varieties of squash are fun to play with. The starchy, sweet, and nutty flavors that come with them make them very versatile. If you are at your local market and see some funky shaped squash, talk to the farmer who picked them to see how they cook it. Hopefully, from the conversation, the gears in your head get some fun ideas of what to do with them. You can replace potatoes with squash and make gnocchi or dumplings. Roasted squash for soups or cooled down and thrown in a salad are delicious options, as well! The options are endless.”
Executive Farmer Nathan Peitso & Executive Chef Craig Hopson (FARMHOUSE Los Angeles)
"Honeynut squash, Bermuda onions, seasonal grapes and pears, mushroom varietals, and Japanese sweet potato. Especially honeynut squash—a sweet and petite butternut squash bred for flavor by Blue Hill at Stone Barn Chef Dan Barber—which remains relatively undiscovered on the west coast. In preparation for the season, we hand-selected the seeds for this seasonal favorite which were planted at Weiser Family Farms for the first time on the west coast."
Christopher Gross, Executive Chef, Wrigley Mansion, Phoenix
"Cèpes (a.k.a. porcinis), truffles, and pumpkins are my favorite fall ingredients. Cèpesare is fantastic, and I really enjoy the flavor. In the fall months, you can often find fresh ones. If you get the smaller, more delicate, ones in perfect condition, they are great sliced thinly and tossed with a little EVO, thyme, and finely chopped shallots in a pan over medium heat. The larger ones are a wonderful addition to add umami flavor to sauces and to garnish meats, adding robust flavor. Fall truffles are always nice, and I love them simply mixed into scrambled eggs."
Danny Taing, Bokksu Founder and "Ambassador of Japanese Snacks"
"I absolutely love cooking with Yuzukosho (literally "Yuzu Pepper"), a delicious Japanese seasoning paste that is made from yuzu peel, chili peppers, and salt. Adding just a dash of yuzukosho will give any dish a spicy, yet citrusy kick of extra flavor. In the fall, I like to scoop a little yuzukosho onto miso soup or fresh sashimi to increase the heat and umami flavors. I especially love our Olive Oil Senbei Yuzu Pepper and Kakinotane Yuzu Pepper snacks, both of which are baked to perfection with yuzukosho."
Haidar Karoum, chef/owner of Chloe, Washington, D.C.
"I am a big fan of all the various squash that hit the markets in fall (and even now). Red Kuri squash is one of my favorites for its sweet and earthy flavor profiles. I like to use it in multiple ways for the same dish; for instance, a creamy bomba rice with a puree of red kuri squash, roasted red kuri squash, black trumpet mushrooms, roasted Asian pear, and toasted pumpkin seeds."
Chef Harold Moore of Harold's at Arlo, New York City
"I’m really excited by the arrival of all the fall squashes, especially acorn It is featured along with beets and burrata on the new menu. I love the earthy sweetness and texture of the squash. I think its an underutilized ingredient in cooking things other than soup."
Chef Thomas Romero of Acme NYC
"I get really excited about root vegetables: parsnips, celeriac, rutabaga, sunchokes, turnips, even the humble potato. There's a galaxy of different types each with its own unique character. They're incredibly versatile and lend themselves well to just about any dish or the center of a plate. Roasted simply with garlic and thyme, they can be wholly satisfying to eat but that's just the starting point. They make refined and luxurious purees, intriguing chips, even candy. The only real limit to what can be done with them is imagination. I often use celeriac or parsnip as a replacement for mashed potatoes and turnips make one of my favorite soups; simply simmer them with a bit of butter and vegetable stock until they're tender then puree and serve with garlic-rubbed toast."
Lauryn Chun of MILKimchi
"Fall is quintessential time for kimchi making tradition of kimjang (kimchi harvest in November) which marks the communal kimchi making in Korea where families and neighbors get together to make enough kimchi for the long winter ahead. The abundance of napa cabbage and radishes marks the cooler weather for hearty kimchi soups and stews."
Chef Chris Starkus, Urban Farmer, Denver
"I love red kuri squash! Locally grown in Colorado, it has a firm flesh that has a very delicate and mellow chestnut flavor. Its versatility and deep orange hue of color is welcome in the winter season to bring a pop of color to any dish.”
Executive Pastry Chef Ann Kirk, Little Dom’s, Los Angeles
"Pears (preferably D’Anjou) are delicious roasted with goat cheese. Slice pears lengthwise, core and fill with a mixture of chevre and sugar, then bake until caramelized; drizzle with honey and serve with toasted pecans and grape clusters."
Executive Chef Ryan Spruhan, The Fontaine Hotel, Kansas City
"I like to substitute sweet potatoes wherever I see pumpkin and squash. I think its flavor is more pronounced but similar enough to translate while adding a touch to your favorite fall dishes. Cheesecake, pie, soup, and chips are all great uses for the sweet potato. Don’t forget that the skin is edible and packed with nutrients."
Executive Chef Angela Hernandez, Fine China, Dallas
"Parsnips, carrots, celery root, beets, and potatoes. One of my favorite ways to enjoy fall vegetables is shaving each ingredient down and shocking it in ice water until crispy—this is a great addition for a light salad or as a garnish. Roasting fall vegetables is also a nice way to bring out the ingredient’s natural nuttiness and sweetness, while pickling or fermenting vegetables helps preserve the taste at its peak. Lately, I've been experimenting with non-traditional components for the traditional kimchi, such as celery root and apple—the balance between the unconventional and classic ingredients is a fun rendition on this beloved family recipe that I learned from my mom.”
Executive Chef Daniel Gorman, Henley, Nashville
"Leeks are an unsung hero in the kitchen. Leeks’ uses are endless, with a tender and sweet flavor, they truly can be combined with anything. One of my favorite ways to enjoy leeks is whole roasted or charred, the outside removed, so all that you are left with is the tender, sweet heart of the leek. Topped with a little sea salt, lemon juice, and olive oil -there isn’t anything better."
Andrew Carmellini, James Beard Award-winning chef and restaurateur, Chef/Partner at NoHo Hospitality Group and Chef at the forthcoming San Morello, and Evening Bar at the Shinola Hotel, Detroit
"Honey Nut Squash has a super-rich texture, almost buttery, so you don't need to add a ton of fat to bring out the flavor."