With more people cooking at home during the coronavirus lockdown, shelf-stable foods are more popular than ever. Sales of Goya’s canned foods have increased by 400 percent. If you’re looking for the best-quality pantry items you can find, professional chefs have some recommendations, including everything from top-notch tuna to shelf-stable asparagus. Michael Schall, co-owner of Bar Camillo and Locanda Vini e Olii in Brooklyn, says his restaurant chefs are “addicted” to the oil-packed anchovies from Agostino Recca, which are so good they often snack on the fish right out of the jar. Connecticut chef and farmer Phoebe Cole-Smith is also a fan of the Agostino Recca anchovies, while Nick Perkins, partner at Hart’s, Cervo’s, and The Fly restaurants says that Cabo de Penas is his restaurant’s go-to when it comes to tinned fish. “They’re just old school and really solid,” said Perkins, calling out his favorites, the Cabo de Penas’ sardines.
If you’re looking for fruit preserves, you may want to take the advice of Annie Shi, co-owner of Manhattan’s King restaurant, and get some Kayanoya Yuzu Fruit Preserves. Shi likes to mix these high-quality preserves into a variety of cakes and desserts. Among other sweets, Smitten Kitchen founder Deb Perelman suggests Lyle’s Golden Syrup from the U.K., especially drizzled over pancakes or hot cereal. Julie Cole, chef at Nom Wah Nolita, even recommends her favorite canned soup: Campbell’s Cream of Celery. Cole claims it is “the Ferrari of canned soups.” To see more than 50 pantry staples preferred by chefs, read more here at Eater. Or see the full story here at New York Magazine.
In the past month, more than one-third of Americans ordered groceries online for the first time ever. Online grocery spending has also increased nearly 50% each week since coronavirus lockdowns began in mid-March. To capitalize on shifting buying habits, online retailing giants Amazon, Walmart, and Target have all invested more in grocery sales. Walmart been slower to grow than Amazon and Target, despite being an established competitor in online retail. But Instacart has emerged as the online grocery leader. Instacart’s chief advantage has been partnering with numerous grocery chains, while its competitors mostly sell their own grocery products.
FreshDirect and Peapod have not had as much success, according to Earnest Research, a firm that tracks credit and debit card transactions. FreshDirect operates primarily in large cities like New York, and the company has suffered from staffing shortages due to COVID-19. Peapod also had to make untimely cutbacks just prior to the outbreak, which has proved to be poor timing in the continuing online grocery race.
In 20156, when Joshua Applestone introduced vending machines at his butchery, Applestone Meat Company in upstate New York, a global pandemic not on his mind. “I wanted to eliminate one stressful thing from people’s lives: getting to the butcher shop before it closes,” Applestone said. The refrigerated vending machine allows customers to select and purchase meat cuts without human interaction.
Now, due to social distancing rules amid the coronavirus outbreak, Applestone’s meat vending machine is serving as a model for other butchers and grocery stores. Customers enter the storefront to find vending machines filled with various cuts of beef, chicken, lamb and pork. After selections are made and a payment card is swiped, the appropriate door opens so that the meat can be retrieved in a contactless transaction. “We thought society might take a while to warm up to these machines,” said Applestone, “but for the situation we’re all in, they’re the perfect solution. A lot of technology makes things more complicated. But vending machines? They’re here to help us.”
Shorter afterward, Kevin McCann of McCann’s Local Meats in Rochester, New York, opened his meat vending machine. McCann, who is a friend of Applestone’s, was surprised at how quickly customers grew comfortable with the vending machine, adding “the response has been unbelievable.” .
Chef Jeremy Umansky, owner of the acclaimed Larder deli and bakery in Cleveland, Ohio, has been aging meat and curing food with koji for years. Likewise, co-author Rich Shih has extensive food preservation experience and is Exhibit Engineer for the Museum of Food and Drink (MOFAD) in New York City. In Koji Alche_my, the two preservations explorers demystify the science and techniques behind using koji to ferment and culture a wide variety of umami-rich foods from soy sauce and miso to sake, cheese, and charcuterie. They explain how to cultivate this fungus, Aspergillus oryzae_, as well as how to harness it in applications such as speeding up the curing, brining, and aging of meat with improved flavor.
Koji Alchemy includes an introduction by celebrated fermentation expert Sandor Katz as well as 35 recipes for various ferments, pastes, and foods like Popcorn Koji, Roasted Entire Squash Miso, Korean Makgeolli, and Amazake Rye Bread. In this primer, both home cooks and professional chefs should find plenty of inspiration and all the information needed to create all kinds of new and interesting cultured preparations.
Quarantine shopping has expanded the market for bulk purchases of basic items like coffee, butter, beans, and canned goods. A new survey from the world’s largest grocery store chain, Kroger, reveals that 39 percent of its customers have purchased more ingredients in bulk than they did before the pandemic. Canned soup sales increased 63 percent in March and April compared with last year. As consumers limit grocery store trips, bulk buying has contributed to limited availability of certain items like pasta, flour, and some cuts of meat.
Many shoppers say they have turned to bulk purchasing because they now have more people at home to feed, more meals to cook, and more groceries to buy, especially with restaurants closed or limited to takeout. Shoppers like New Jersey resident Stephanie Ormaeche (pictured) say bulk buying is cost effective and reduces the monthly restaurant bill. She and her husband aren’t used to buying two shopping carts worth of groceries but now feels the need to as she limits shopping trips. Others like Vincent Ader in Chicago see increased grocery shopping as an opportunity to get creative. Ader buys herbs in bulk as a way to experiment with new flavors. His meals typically use the same core ingredients, and the variety of herbs now allows him to vary the taste of each meal.
In the Chubu region of Japan, the Asian giant hornet sometimes called the “murder hornet” is enjoyed as a culinary delicacy despite its deadly sting. Grubs are often preserved in jars, pan-fried or steamed with rice to make a dish called hebo-gohan, while whole adult hornets are fried on skewers until light and crispy. Live murder hornets are soaked in spirits to make the distilled beverage shochu. The hornets release venom into the beverage, which turns dark amber in color upon aging.
In the United States, where murder hornets were found last fall in Washington State decimating beneficial bee populations, scientists are much more focused on eradicating them. Some believe their culinary potential being overlooked. In Tokyo, the giant hornet appears on menus in more than 30 restaurants. Shota Toguchida, owner of a Chinese restaurant in the city, sells his own homemade shots of hornet liquor for 2,000 yen, about $19.
Whether it’s the Michelin Guide sharing world renowned chef’s homemade recipes or YouTube clips of chefs from Bon Appétit fancifying boxed mac and cheese, food media in the time of the coronavirus has somewhat abandoned elitism in favor of more universally appealing content.
This ethos has been displayed before COVID-19 as well, notably through The Great British Baking Show. The low stakes baking competition show has captured the spirit of non-ostentatious food prep for years, and season 6 winner, Nadiya Hussain, is now bringing this attitude to her Netflix series, Nadiya’s Time to Eat. When the show first aired on BBC last year, the prospect of a global pandemic was not in mind. Hussain speaks with compassion as she visits families to discuss stresses they face in their everyday lives and how their daily struggles affect their ability to cook. This focus on the food life of workaday people seems especially timely as the pandemic continues to scramble daily schedules for people around the world.
Unsurprisingly, pandemic-specific food programming has been surfacing recently. Samin Nosrat, author of the cookbook Salt Fat Acid Heat, now hosts Home Cooking, a podcast targeted at foodies of all skill levels trying to curb their home-cooking anxiety. Bon Appétit‘s YouTube channel consists mostly of informal recipe tutorials that make cooking feel less intimidating, and the host’s pragmatic personalities help the viewer feel they are learning to cook from a friend rather than a teacher. This lighthearted approach in food media takes a turn from elitism in the food world, at least for now.
As stay at home orders and restaurant closures push more Americans to cook at home, people are turning to seafood more than ever. Supermarket sales of fish increased 37% in the first few weeks of April compared to last year at the same time, according to Chicago-based research firm IRI. Restaurant sales, on the other hand, have plummeted far below average, which is usually two-thirds of fresh seafood sales overall. Commercial fishing boats along the Atlantic coast have been forced to dump unsold fish, and weather issues also contributed to reductions in seafood production. “We’ve had an awful, just a terrible spring,” said Ernie Panacek, general manager of the commercial fishing dock at Viking Village on Long Beach Island, New Jersey.
If grocery store sales continue to rise, they may help offset the losses. “People are still hungry for their seafood,” Panacek said. “They can’t go out and get it at the restaurants, and they’ve got to eat.” Consumers are also buying fish that restaurants often don’t, such as Spanish mackerel, silver dory, and blue catfish, all of which have sold out at Pierless Fish, a Brooklyn restaurant supply company. The owner, Robert Demasco, recently reinvented Pierless into a fish delivery service, saying, “I probably sold 30 pounds a day of collars.” Demasco added, “I bought shad roe. I ran out in a day, and I had 60 pounds. I was like, really? You guys know what this is?”
Bill Buford was the founding editor of Granta literary magazine and the fiction editor of the New Yorker for eight years. His first nonfiction book, Among The Thugs, explored the fickle psychology and brutal reality of soccer hooligans hellbent on committing acts of violence in the UK. For his 2006 book, Heat, Buford threw himself into a culinary apprenticeship at Mario Batali’s acclaimed Italian restaurant Babbo in New York City as well as in other restaurants in Italy. Fifteen years later, Buford has gone all-in with his culinary obsessions, moving himself and his family to the gastronomic mecca of Lyon, France, where he trains as a chef.
In Dirt, Buford tells sharp-tongued stories of attending a pig slaughter, befriending a local baker, and apprenticing with some of the most decorated chefs in the world, including Michel Richard, the acolytes of the late Paul Bocuse at Institute Bocuse in Lyon, and the demanding chefs at three-Michelin star restaurant, La Mére Brazier, which first opened in Lyon in 1921. Gradually, the Lyon locals come to accept the expat and his family into their community.
With characteristic ease and humor, Buford’s writing captures the intensity of working in a professional kitchen, where “unregulated bullying and humiliation” remain acceptable paths to perfection, where there is only one correct way to peel asparagus, and where it has always been and will always be about following the rules. In the process, the author plumbs the latent connections between Italian and French gastronomy and reveals the secret to what make Lyonnais food so exceptional: “a chef’s access to nearby ingredients” in a storied place where the soil is sometimes revered more than those who walk on it. At times hilarious, ascerbic, intimate, and heartbreaking, Dirt is a juicy read even if you don’t know your brunoise from your bavarois.
In an effort to bring restaurant quality meals to your home kitchen, the Michelin Guide is sharing some of the world’s top chef’s favorite homemade recipes on its Instagram, every day. Though big names like Gordon Ramsay and Andy Yang may spark some intimidation among home cooks, these recipes don’t discriminate when it comes to skill set.
The recipes keep coming, and there’s a huge variety of options to choose from. If you’re craving dessert, try Jacques Faussat’s orange cake, Jean Sulpice’s chocolate cake, or Christophe Hay’s strawberry charlotte cake. If you want to up your pasta game, try Gordon Ramsay’s marinara sauce or Alex Atala’s palm heart fettuccine carbonara, or bake your leftover noodles with Isabella Poti’s spaghettoni and green beans. The possibilities grow greater each day, and there are so many different dishes to choose from, all from the home kitchens of the world’s most renowned chefs.