Chef Marc Forgione first captured the nation’s attention when he won season three of The Next Iron Chef in 2010, but he was making waves in the industry long before that. Cooking and working with his father starting at age 16, Forgione spent much of his life in and around restaurants and culinary excellence. He served as sous chef to Laurent Tourondel and later became chef de cuisine at BLT Prime before opening up his own restaurant that bears his name, where he earned not one but two Michelin stars, making him the youngest American-born chef and owner to do so. And, of course, he’s one of the competing chefs on Iron Chef America.
So of course we want to know exactly what’s in his fridge. Here’s what he had to tell us about the foods he always keeps on hand, the strangest foods he’s ever eaten and the vegetable he absolutely can’t stand.
SheKnows: Tell us a little bit about what’s in your fridge.
Marc Forgione: Milk, eggs, yogurt, fresh fruit and vegetables, leftovers, feta cheese… and some beer and wine hidden in the back there. [Laughs]
SK: What about your freezer?
MF: Ice cream, frozen meats and sausages, frozen sauces and soups, and then there’s a couple of boxes of Girl Scout Cookies — Thin Mints, of course!
SK: Are there any items that you always make sure to keep in stock?
MF: Milk, eggs, feta cheese and pickles.
SK: What’s your go-to healthy snack?
MF: As a chef, you kind of taste and snack all day, so generally, when I’m eating, I try to pick things that are more health-conscious and low-carb — vegetables and hummus, cheese, pickles, cured meats, etc.
SK: Can you give us an example of one of your favorite weeknight meals?
MF: I’m not usually home on a weeknight to cook! [Laughs] But I love my wife’s chicken.
SK: What would you consider the ultimate comfort food?
MF: Spaghetti and meatballs. I also recently made a ricotta ravioli dish with creamed morel mushrooms as part of my partnership with Undeniably Dairy, which was a big hit at the restaurant.
SK: Any foods you absolutely can’t stand?
MF: Okra…I can’t get down with the slime.
SK: Which country’s cuisine is your favorite and why?
MF: Laos. I opened a Laotian restaurant in NYC called Khe-Yo five years ago with one of my closest friends, Soulayphet Schwader, because I loved his food and the flavors. Their bang-bang sauce is so spicy but I put it on everything!
SK: If you were to go head-to-head with another Iron Chef in a grilling battle, who would you choose to compete against?
MF: Michael Symon.
SK: Which other Iron Chef would you be most nervous to compete against and why?
MF: Michael Symon… he’s a good friend, and so I would feel bad about beating him!
SK: If you could only use one small kitchen appliance (microwave, blender, slow cooker, etc.) for an entire month, which one would you choose?
SK: What’s the strangest food you have ever eaten?
MF: Ten-thousand-year-old egg in Hong Kong.
SK: Would you eat it again?
SK: Any tips for home cooks who are looking to step up their cooking game?
MF: You have to start with great ingredients — I always say, “You can’t make a bad ingredient taste good.” We get some of our dairy products from Dutch Hollow, a farm in upstate New York, and you can really taste the quality in their products because of the care they have for their farm.
Also, people don’t really give much thought to the spices sitting in their kitchens at home or realize that they can get too old and go bad. Great spices can really make a huge difference to whatever you’re cooking. I love the spices by my friend Lior at La Boîte and use them in a lot of the dishes at my restaurant and even when I’m cooking at home.