Cool Fridges

Familiar Faces

Article by Amy Birdsong Golden

Photography by Sarah Bell, Sélavie Photography

Originally published in River City Lifestyle

What’s more fun than standing in front of your fridge? The soft glow of someone else’s refrigerator light.

Former chef Alex Canale says his own kids are tougher clients than any customers from his restaurant days. To get it right, he makes his own sauces. A collection of mason jars holds a vinegar-heavy, tomato based bbq sauce, a yellow tomato caper sauce for fish and a peach and fresno chili jam for cheese plates. There are meats ready to go, vacuum sealed and prepped for sous vide cooking. “Pork might be my favorite four letter word,” he says. “Diced prosciutto, pancetta and salt pork are found on most plates – from fresh summer vegetables to slow cooked winter pots.”

Anna Vergos Blair is a third-generation operator of her family’s iconic Memphis restaurant, the Rendezvous. She is also the resident vegetarian of the business, though she confesses to having bacon at least a couple times a year. “I take spaghetti squash from home and put it on the pit,” she says. “It’s good with our seasoning and smoke.” For summer meals, Anna keeps ingredients on hand to make a Greek salad: tomato, cucumber, kalamata olives, bell peppers, and red onion. She adds vegan feta, but no lettuce. For the dressing, she uses the recipe of her late yiayia- the matriarch of the Rendezvous, Tasia Vergos.

Jay Robinson works for Terminix as a “PR man for bugs.” He brunches instead of lunches when he works from home, often heating up leftovers. On Wednesdays, it’ll be beef tacos from the very regular Taco Tuesdays. Another meal in their weekly rotation is a simple Thai dish, larb, made by wife, Amy. She uses ground chicken, butter leaf lettuce and pickled onions. "My favorite way to eat at home is to scrounge," Jay says. "Which usually results in some sort of grazing plate I have put together." This typically includes a combination of tinned meat, fig spread with cheese, raw and pickled vegetables, and a sleeve of table water crackers. 

Staples at the ready include: Arbo's cheese dips, quick pickled veggies for salads, Wright's Texas bacon, fresh herbs and even fresher eggs from the mythical Goetze Farm & Nursery. He imports Cougar Gold cheese from Washington State University's creamery. Alex rotates beers from every local brewery in the drink fridge. He experiments with cocktails from his family’s distillery, Old Dominick, with a bevy of fizzy mixers like Navy Hill. 

“We collect condiments, especially bbq sauces,” Anna notes. Some favorites in the fridge include sauces by Redneck Lipstick, Ogre and Bachan’s Japanese. Anna uses them with tofu for her and chicken on the grill for her family. The condiment collection spans from Momofuku Chili Crunch, Durkee Famous Sauce, Kelchner’s Horse-Radish to a healthy number of pickles. The best ones are sweet and spicy, homemade and pickled by her mother-in-law in a family sized jar. 

Jay makes a gin martini, heavy on vermouth with anchovy stuffed olives. You'll find wine from his subscription to Joe's wine club. He uses a heavy arsenal of condiments for upgraded sandwiches at home: peppercorn mayo, horseradish pub sauce, chili peppers, pickles, and almost a dozen types of mustard. The bread of late - King's Hawaiian slider buns to complement the savory. His Saturday always starts with a sausage biscuit from Oh Grate, found at High Point Grocery. 

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