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What's in Their Fridge?

Get a sneak peek into the refrigerators of some of Houston's top chefs and restauranteurs.

Article by Gabi De la Rosa

Photography by Lauren Holub Photography

Originally published in Memorial Lifestyle

What's in Benjamin Berg's Fridge? 

The real question should be, is Benjamin Berg ever at home to use his fridge? The busy restaurateur is juggling eleven restaurants with a jaw-dropping seven more slated to open in the near future. From a rooftop bar to a seafood concept and a retro-style diner, when the New York native sees a need in the Houston food scene, he swoops in to fill the void. 

Berg is more than just work. He does keep a well-stocked refrigerator of his go-to snacks and restaurant favorites.  

  1.  Chef Tommy's bacon is a personal favorite, especially with my kids. The dish came about because when we first opened B&B Butchers, we only sold our regular thick-cut bacon in The Butcher Shop and at private events. I went to our Executive Chef at the time, Tommy Elbashary, and said we needed something to serve at events, and he came up with the recipe. It was such a huge hit that we added it to the menu and eventually created the take-home boxes that we sell in The Butcher Shop.

  2. I have a spicy mustard collection and use it on everything – hot dogs, hamburgers, salami on toast, etc. Ever since I visited Prague, I have been in love with finding different spicy mustards. Also, anyone over 18 should only put mustard on their hot dogs. Just sayin!

  3. I love Bubby's Pickles - I eat those by themselves as a snack. And it might be the New Yorker in me, but cornichons are great when I want to eat something quick and easy, but I also enjoy them with prosciutto and any type of charcuterie.

  4. When it is cool outside, I grill out with my kids once or twice a week.

  5. I  purchased Siggi's Skyer because I had never tried it before and always like trying new and different brands. I am not a fan of flavored yogurt, though.

  6. Having champagne in the fridge is always good because you should celebrate the good moments in life, and Ruinart is my go-to brand.

Benjamin Berg will debut Annabelle Brasserie, a Berg Hospitality Group original concept, this month in Autry Park. Annabelle will be an American brasserie serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner with an approachable menu, lively ambiance, and incredible views overlooking Buffalo Bayou.

What's in Chef Jassi Bindra's Fridge?

Luxe restaurant Amrina, a Woodlands Waterway Square darling, has been racking up the accolades since it opened in 2022. Chef and owner Jassi Bindra recently won three rounds of the Food Network show Chopped; the Houston Chronicle's Alison Cook called the restaurant "one of Houston's most exciting," and it has received top honors from several area publications. 

Most would be surprised to know that although Chef Bindra is always focused on the kitchen at work, at home he keeps things streamlined and straightforward. He keeps his refrigerator stocked with abundant fresh produce, Indian-focused flavors, and a few indulgences for his ten-year-old son, Prahbroop. 

  1. I eat a lot of vegetables and prefer to cook with fresh produce that is in season. I also use fresh fruits for breakfast or protein shakes as I am always on the run. An apple a day keeps the doctor away, right?

  2. My favorite Naan is from Amrina, of course. 

  3. Paneer is an Indian cottage cheese, and we use it as a source of protein. I use it for curries, kabobs, sandwiches, and stuffing for our breads. I like to buy Amul Paneer. 

  4. I love a good scoop of ice cream every night after dinner, especially vanilla or caramel. It is a sweet treat before bed.

  5. Dave's Killer Bread is a great sandwich option, and my son likes it for his lunchbox. It has a good amount of fiber.

  6. Coffee is part of my morning routine. I drink it with creamer, depending on how sweet I want to start the day.

Chef Jassi Bindra started his culinary journey at a Kolkata catering college. After earning a bachelor's degree in International Hospitality Management from Napier University in 2007, he became Executive Chef at Punjab Grill, D.C. Bindra is acknowledged by food critic Vir Sanghvi as "The World's Best Indian Chef,” has been featured in publications like Food & Wine Magazine, and his inventive menu earned a Michelin plate in 2019.

What's in Aaron & Victoria Bludorn's Fridge? 

When James Beard Award semifinalist chef Aaron Bluedorn and his Houston restaurant royalty wife, Victoria Pappas Bludorn, are at work, maximalism is the name of the game. Their Navy Blue and Bludorn restaurants turn out dishes like pasta with little neck clams, sea urchins, and seaweed or smoked Mahi Mahi Dip with pineapple chow-chow and trout roe. 

At home, however, the duo keep a low-key refrigerator with much of its contents centered around their two young boys, Gregory and Peter. Sure, there are stuffed olives, fancy cheeses, anchovies, and yummy spreads for mom and dad, but easy-to-grab snacks like fruits, vegetables, and meal prep take center stage. 

  1. We always have nut butter, seasonal jam, Rao's marinara, marinated artichokes, and chimichurri from Bludorn.

  2. There's usually meal prep for dinners for our two boys; right now, it's pasta and broccoli.

  3. We always have some Pappas to-go food, usually Pappasitos, but right now, it's leftover chocolate midnight cake from Pappas Brothers. 

  4. HEB Mixta Tortillas are our favorites because they hold together so well, and they are the perfect mix of flour consistency with delicious corn flavor.

  5. We love Bludorn hot sauce on all things – eggs, tacos, Bluedorn Gazpacho; the list goes on. 

  6. We really enjoy Greek white wine, especially Katsano. Gavalas Winery is the only producer that's available in Houston. 

Chef Aaron Bludorn and business partners, wife Victoria Pappas Bludorn and Cherif Mbodji have had a Midas touch with their restaurants Bludorn and Navy Blue. Later this year, the trio is set to open their third restaurant in Hedwig Village. The restaurant will be an upscale tavern open for lunch, dinner, and cocktail service. 


 

What's in Chef Dawn Burrell's Fridge? 

When not flying to far-off lands to partner with the world's leading chefs or filming for television shows, you can most likely find chef Dawn Burrell at home with her fluffy dog, Kenji. Houstonians can get a taste of Burrell's cooking at 713 Music Hall's VIP Kashmere Lounge where she oversees the menu with items including Creole Crawfish Queso, 713 Pork Rib Sandwich, Houston Hot Cauliflower, and Chef Dawn's Esquites.

After years of travel for sports (she's an Olympian, y'all) and work, Burrell is used to a hectic schedule and keeps her refrigerator relatively sparse unless she's working on special recipes. That's when unique ingredients find their way into her downtown Houston loft. 

  1. Of course, my dog Kenji has his treats in the fridge because they stay fresher that way. He is a Lagotto Romagnolo breed, also known as a truffle hunter, and although he has a fancy name, he doesn't care if his treats are hot or cold. 

  2. I always keep Halloumi cheese around for snacking. 

  3. Pinkglow Pineapples are fun, they taste pretty much the same as a traditional pineapple, but they are just a little bit sweeter. 

  4. I bought duck eggs for a dish I was working on, but now they will find themselves on top of a hash. 

  5. I had big plans for a chicken dish, and now I just need to find time to make it.

  6. I usually keep leafy greens on hand only if I need them for a specific recipe because I don't eat them quickly enough before they go bad.

Chef Dawn Burrell has traveled the world, representing the USA in Track and Field. She is a 2000 Olympian and 2001 Indoor World Champion in the long jump. Her travels exposed her to global cuisine and ignited a deep love for the language of food. After retiring as an athlete, she went to culinary school and has worked with leading chefs worldwide. She has been on Bravo's Top Chef and partnered in several efforts to support Houston's African-American community, women in the hospitality industry, and to provide families with nutritious meals. 

What's in Chef Victoria Elizondo's Fridge? 

Chef Victoria Elizondo is not only a 2023 James Beard Award Semi-Finalist, but she also penned her first cookbook, Taco-Tastic: Over 60 recipes to make Taco Tuesdays last all week long, and she is the owner of thriving restaurant Cochinita & Co. Busy is an understatement for the chef who for years would typically eat at her restaurant. However, times have changed as Elizondo recently moved in with her boyfriend and rediscovered her love of grocery shopping. Victoria now strolls the grocery store aisles like they are a treasure trove of culinary potential to keep a well-stocked refrigerator at home.

  1. I am a condiment queen - it's truly my weakness. I enjoy collecting all types of condiments. There will never be a bland meal in my house. 

  2. Poppi is my latest obsession. It helps my gut feel better after a condiment-heavy meal. My favorite flavor depends on my mood, but Ginger Lime is my go-to. 

  3. What kind of Mexican would I be if I didn't have tortillas in my kitchen? When I am feeling healthy, I grab a bag of Siete tortillas, but nothing can replace the smell and flavor of a good yellow corn tortilla. Mi Rancho and El Milagro are my favorites. When I am feeling fancy, I get the Masienda blue corn tortillas, but in all honesty, my favorite thing to do is to go to my neighborhood's tortilleria and grab a pack of freshly made tortillas. 

  4. The happiness I witness from customers at the farmers market when they pick up their weekly dose of totopos and Cochinitas Market Jalapeno Salsa is fantastic. We do not dilute it, so it's packed with flavor. I love adding it to my breakfast tacos and chicken and rice bowls when I feel lazy.  

  5. There are always fresh onions, tomatoes, peppers, greens, berries, bananas, citrus, mushrooms and lots of garlic.

  6. There will always be white rice in my fridge. I don't cook every day, but when I do, I make a big batch of stir fry or guisado served on white rice. I also like to eat it with a fried egg, drizzled with our Salsa Machis, for a quick and spicy breakfast.

Victoria Elizondo is chef-owner of Cochinita & Co. in the Greater East End of Houston, focusing on fresh and preferably local ingredients. Elizondo got her first job at 16 as a restaurant hostess and has since worked at top Houston restaurants like State of Grace, Pax Americana, and Xochi. In 2016, she debuted Cochinita & Co., named one of the Top 25 Best Restaurants of 2022 by The Houston Chronicle. 

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