Celebrated pastry chef Pierre Hermé may be famous for reinventing the macaron, but his fridge tells us that he is accomplished in so much more than the art of making sweet treats. It’s filled with a varied and beautifully curated selection of food from some of France’s best artisanal producers. You’ll find exceptional cheeses from Marie-Anne Cantin, Bernard Antony and Quatrehomme, meat from Yves- Marie Le Bourdonnec and Hugo Desnoyer, bread from Poilâne, olive oil from Cedric Casanova and, of course, macarons from Pierre Hermé. After some pressing, Hermé admits to shopping at supermarkets for staples such as milk and eggs, but says he has never bought a ready-made meal in his life.
“For me, the three most important things in life are food, art and music,” says Massimo Bottura. “Food is culture. Like art, like a beautiful song, food can take you to another plane.” Bottura’s passion for his subject is clear from the moment you open the door to his meticulously organised fridge, which is housed in a shrine-like room of its own. It’s stocked to the rafters with comforting foods, from meat-filled olives that you can deep-fry as a snack (“I love these,” he says) to lamb chops from his sous chef’s farm in central Italy. Alongside the home-made Sicilian orange marmalade, prosciutto crudo di Parma and the pickled Calabrian onions are some ingredients from further afield—Taiwanese sesame oil and yuzu juice, for example. “Fine cooking is like jazz music,” says Bottura. “You need to learn how to play every instrument and then forget it all. I needed to find out how to make not only the perfect classic Italian dish, but also the perfect Chinese dumpling.”
Given he is the man who transformed the British public’s perception of the unpopular cuts of meat and pioneered the “nose to tail” way of eating, there is a disappointing lack of offal in Fergus Henderson’s fridge. Although, much like its owner, it is predictably chaotic, a mishmash of items, some brought home from St John, others bought at farmers markets and local supermarkets, and others unknown and unidentifiable (could that be the offal?). Malt extract and goose fat rub shoulders with umeboshi plum puree and dashi miso paste. A leg of lamb hogs a lot of space, but there’s still room for Italian mostarda, preserved lemons, piccalilli sauce and plenty more. But according to Henderson, the most important item in his fridge is a bottle of Fernet-Branca, an Italian liqueur his father believed had restorative powers. “It’s some of the best advice I ever had,” he says, raising a tiny glass to his lips.
Fäviken is probably the most remote fine-dining restaurant in the world. Located on a private estate in the far northwest of Sweden, culinary tourists travel for days and brave sub-zero temperatures to taste Nilsson’s exotic northern flavours. One benefit of living just south of the Arctic Circle is that you don’t actually need a fridge—in lieu of one, Nilsson has a root cellar, a precursor to the modern fridge that uses the earth to keep the temperature low. In his “fridge” you’ll find an impressive array of local produce—unsurprisingly, given that there aren’t many supermarkets on his doorstep. From fermented cucumbers and crowberries in water to blackcurrant liqueur and pickled marigold flowers, there’s a heavy emphasis on all things pickled, mainly because Nilsson spends much of his free time foraging in the estate’s woods for unusual produce. “Curiosity is so important,” he says. “Discovery is a part of your life.”
El Celler de Can Roca
Joan Roca doesn’t use his fridge nearly as much as the rest of us use ours. This is because he lives next to his restaurant and, between the lunch and dinner services, heads home to cook for his wife and two children, and sometimes his mother (pictured with him). His fridge at home is a smaller affair but it’s still filled with the kind of local specialities that would make the rest of us salivate: king prawns from Palamós, Galician cow’s milk cheese and black olive tapenade. For when he’s feeling lazy, Roca keeps Iberico ham and local boudin blanc on hand to eat cold, and plastic boxes of chopped onions and tomato sauce so he can whip up a pasta sauce. While the cheese and meat are Spanish, the spices are not; there are piles of Mexican and Asian chilli peppers ready to add heat to a paella or risotto. “I get most of my food from work,” he says. “Or the market in Girona, where I go with my daughter on Saturdays to see what’s new. It reflects the seasons and products around us.”
Photographer Carrie Soloman and writer Adrian Moore travelled throughout Europe convincing some of the world's greatest culinary minds to open their fridge doors. The result is Inside Chef's Fridges, Europe, published by Taschen