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Refrigerator Look Book: Bill Telepan

Bill TelepanBill Telepan was early to the seasonal-ingredient table. As the owner and head chef of the New York City restaurant, Telepan, he’s become renowned in the food world for his New American cuisine prepared with purely local and seasonal ingredients.

And it’s not a just a practice he extends to his diners. Telepan shops and cooks the same way at home as he does for his Upper West Side restaurant (though obviously in very different quantities). “The ideal way that I’d cook at home is the reality,” he says.

But don’t think he’s some pretentious healthy food snob that only eats kale and carrots. Telepan says he’ll eat just about anything, “except for mussels, anchovies, and heavy cream.”

Keep reading for an inside look into Telepan’s fridge, his Sunday evening food-prep habits—and for an impromptu, “fancy” dinner menu pulled from what he’s got stocked that could prove to be perfect for your next dinner party.

Okay. So my eye is immediately drawn to the Cheerios. What’s up with those? The Cheerios belong to my daughter Leah. She eats them with skim milk. I’m a whole milk kind of guy, because it contains all the nutrients that skim doesn’t.

Got it, that makes more sense. Though I’m surprised to see the cereal in the fridge. I see broccoli and other vegetables on the middle shelf. What do you make with those? We prep all the vegetables on Sunday, and then eat them during the course of the week for dinner. We sauté them with garlic and extra virgin olive oil. They get served with every meal.

Smart. What’s the pink stuff on top of the broccoli? What do you use it for? It’s wild king salmon. My wife makes salmon on Mondays for dinner, dusted with a mixture of chili, onion,  garlic powder, and salt. She puts the salmon in a pan and sears it on one side for just a minute, then puts it in the oven. I personally like the salmon prepared medium-rare, my wife and daughter like it medium and medium-well.

Telepan FridgeSounds like you’re a gentlemen letting them do it their way. You’re a chef that’s known for his fresh and seasonal cooking. How does this carry over into your home cooking? I try to cook that way at home as well.

Yes, but you must get tired of cooking after a day on the job, right? No. If we’re not doing anything on Sunday I always cook. I made beef stew last night.

Wow, okay. I don’t notice any alcohol. Do you drink? Oh, we drink. There’s a little beer in there and a bottle of champagne. We generally drink red wine, but those are in the cabinet next to the fridge.

Of course. What’s a favorite dish from the restaurant that you like to make at home? Mostly pastas because they’re easy to make. A family favorite is the Brussels sprouts and egg pasta that we serve at Telepan. It’s a spin on my mom’s classic.

That sounds delish. Now for the last (and in my opinion) most fun question: If you were having a dinner party tonight, what would you make using the ingredients in this fridge? Let’s be fancy. I’d start the night with a fancy-shmancy cocktail. In the Tupperware next to the salmon is a mixture of lemon and orange juice, so I’d use that to make a champagne cocktail using gin. It would be something like a French 75. Then, I’d poach the salmon in some of the champagne with garlic and red onion, whirl in a little butter to make a sauce, take the vegetables and make a gratin with them using some parmesan and breadcrumbs from the freezer and dried herbs from the pantry. In the drawers I have potatoes and I’d make a crispy potato cake. For dessert I’d make an apple galette and finally serve the 1966 Calvados I have in my pantry. —Jamie McKillop

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