Chefs are just like the rest of us: They put their chef coats on one arm at a time and then work hard, hot, sometimes thankless jobs. So what do Philly’s best culinary minds feed themselves after a long day of feeding others? In the second edition of our fridge series, we caught up with four more of Philly’s beloved culinarians and asked: What’s in your fridge?
Chef and owner of BurgerTime
You may know Chef Dane DeMarco for their laid-back attitude and deliciously nostalgic burgers at BurgerTime in Audubon, New Jersey. DeMarco’s fridge looks like a continuation of their genius menu combinations from the restaurant. DeMarco says you’ll always find French onion dip, Wunderbar bologna, Zayda’s horseradish, and bread and butter pickles in their fridge. DeMarco recently welcomed a new member to the family, which they admit has changed their fridge content a bit. “Before having a baby, I would always have Miller High Life on hand, but now I guess I’d say [I have] organic milk.” DeMarco’s most inflammatory fridge item? “American cheese — Land O’Lakes. Not Cooper sharp,” they say. “Controversial, I know.”
When DeMarco comes home from a long day of making burger dreams come true, they say the last thing they feel like doing is cooking, especially time-consuming or tedious recipes. “I tend to stick with things of comfort. I grew up with my grandmom making me open-face fried bologna sandwiches, and after a tiring day, it really hits the spot.” You’ll find DeMarco slurping up leftover shaved veggie noodles from Nan Zhou Noodle House when they’re not eating burgers at the restaurant or making sandwiches.
Manager of Goldie Falafel
Fred Muser admits his fridge often looks a bit sparse, but it’s what you might expect from someone who works hard managing one of the most popular restaurants in the city. Like DeMarco, Muser can’t go without some sliced American cheese fresh from the deli. Though, he says, “Not the pre-packaged kind, nor the expensive ones.” Fresh-sliced deli counter cheese is the only way to go for Muser. It’s a nostalgic choice and reminds him of his childhood.
Muser deals with chronic back pain, so he always keeps cannabis-infused peanut butter on hand to manage the pain. “I couldn’t do what I do without it,” Muser says. You’ll also find unsweetened cashew milk in Muser’s fridge as the main ingredient for his favorite breakfast: muesli. He always keeps seltzer on hand and a healthy stock of homemade and store-bought pickled items. For Muser, pickled onions are key, and he keeps several different flavors in stock at home.
After a long day cranking out falafel and managing his team, some days Muser just wants to reach for takeout. Most weeks, you’ll expect to find the leftovers from Rosario’s Pizza, especially burritos. When Muser isn’t in a burrito mood, he heads to his neighborhood favorite, Porco’s, for the “crazy good porchetta sandwiches” and the soft serve in the summer.
Chef at Triangle Tavern
When you think of vegan pub food in Philly, undoubtedly Chef Mike Schwartz’s menu full of delicious dishes for vegans and carnivores alike comes to mind. At home, Schwartz keeps it simple with all the fixin’s for quick sandwiches, either deli style or as a peanut butter and jelly. Schwartz likes a good quality strawberry jam, Tofurky deli slices, Valentina Extra Hot Sauce, and Hellman’s Vegan Mayo. “There [are] a ton of vegan mayos out there but — sorry not sorry — Hellman’s is king!” Schwartz says. And, of course, what fridge would be complete without a few Miller Lites to help wash sandwiches down?
After a long day cooking at work, Schwartz isn’t interested in “busting out the pots and pans” but instead prefers “casual grazing,” especially if that includes a few handfuls of fresh berries or grapes on the side of his sandwiches. On his days off, you can find Schwartz ordering in, and a peep into his fridge the next day will likely reveal a container of tofu and broccoli and an errant container of leftover fried rice from Oriental Chinese, or some pad thai from Circle Thai.
Chef and owner of Kanella
It comes as no surprise that chef Tayfun Abuska’s home fridge mimics the dreamy, delicious flavors you’ll find on his new menu at Kanella. Abuska swears by stocking Merve brand feta, eggs, eggplant, garlic, and lamb at home, too. Don’t go looking for the toppings for a Hawaiian pizza: Abuska says ham and pineapple are two things you’ll never find in his fridge, along with ground turkey and kale.
Abuska loves cooking at home with his son and even grows his own herbs in a garden in his backyard. You can find him hanging in the yard making Turkish pilaf and lamb kabobs on his charcoal grill after work. When not cooking outside, Abuska can be found in his kitchen cooking up savory karni yarik, an eggplant dish loaded with garlic, peppers, and all of Abuska’s favorite flavors. It’s impressive that a chef that cooks all day wants to come home and cook some more, but even Abuska has days where take-out calls his name. On those nights, you’ll find his family enjoying sushi from Bleu Sushi and — in classic Philly style — the occasional cheesesteak from Geno’s.