Andrew Carmellini is the executive chef for A Voce restaurant in New York CIty. In 2000, Carmellini was named Best New Chef by Food & Wine magazine. He also won the James Beard Foundation Award for Rising Star Chef, and was nominated as Best Chef in New York City by the foundation in both 2002 and 2004.
Question: What ingredients do you always have on hand?
Andrew Carmellini: You know, these days because I’m in an Italian mood and I’m not always going to be in an Italian mood, you know, moving forward, that’s for sure, but it’s definitely pepperoncini, or crushed red pepper flakes. I use quite a bit of sea salt. Calabrine oregano which is the oregano that comes on a branch sort of wrapped up. I mean, even at home I have a glass next to my stove that has that oregano in it. Olive oil and vinegar, but that could be a bunch of different kind of vinegars. And those are like the flavor bombs that I always have around that I’m going to play with the foods, either acidity or the spice factor or salt or kind of like that herbs, you know?
Question: What is your favorite kitchen gadget?
Andrew Carmellini: Yes, it could. You know, I’m going to tell you, there’s a—and this is what I love because this is a piece of equipment that probably, you know, your grandmother had and we use it quite a bit, and we call it, the “Grandma.” And the Grandma is, you might look at it and say it looks like a masher or it looks like a TV antenna from the ‘50s. Yeah, it’s that-- see, you knew exactly what I was talking about. I use that to crush tomatoes when we’re making tomatoes sauce, and you can-- if you don’t use that, the way I make it, if you don’t use that, it just comes out a little bit different. It looks a little bit more processed if you try to use a blender or you try to use a ... blender, and we just sit there and kind of mash the tomatoes up inside the sauce to kind of break them up a little bit as they cook. And I’ve always done it that way, and I wouldn’t give it up for anything.