If we’ve learned anything from Wall of Chefs it’s that keeping a well-stocked pantry is key to whipping up delicious meals any night of the week. But sometimes you’ve also just got to splurge on the food that makes you happy. We asked some of the chefs from the show what ingredients they’ll go all-out for when they have a chance to splurge, and the answers may leave you feeling more than a little hungry…
Love cheese? You’re not alone. Renée Lavallée is also a big fan. She names it as her top ingredient to drop extra dough on… especially since it can take any regular old dough (or, bread) to that next, ooey-gooey level. “Cheese! Having amazing cheese can elevate any dish from grilled cheese to a pizza or pasta dish,” she says.
Meeru Dhalwala is slightly more particular when it comes to the type of cheese she likes to splurge on. “Raw sheep (ewe) milk cheeses such as Pecorino or Manchego with all sorts of olives,” she reveals. Sounds like the makings of a great cheese platter to us.
What goes great with a good cheese? “Wine,” according to Todd Perrin, who names both among his favourite indulgences. Have some extra vino? Don’t toss it. Wine is liquid gold when it comes to creating an extra layer of flavour in many sauces and dishes.
Jesse Vergen was raised on fresh New Brunswick fare, so it’s no real surprise that he names crustacean as his favourite thing to splurge on. “Lobster when it’s in season,” he reveals. “I get carried away and always order too many for a boil, then I’m stuck eating lobster rolls for days after.” Yes… “stuck.”
Enoch Cree chef Shane Chartrand also names lobster as one of his favourite things to splurge on when given the chance, proving that the ingredient isn’t just an East Coast fave: it is a universal Canadian treat.
If Alex Chen wants to get really fancy he’ll go all-out with one of the most notoriously expensive ingredients of all: truffles. “Black and white truffles for different dishes but hopefully both together when the seasons meet in the middle,” he says. Don’t have access to those fancy fungi? Invest in some truffle oil instead.
Iron Chef Canada’s Rob Feenie is also a big fan of caviar, and will drop dough on the ingredient whenever he’s feeling like a splurge. “Specifically, American sturgeon caviar because it’s ocean-wise,” he reveals.
Top Chef Canada‘s Mark McEwan is also a big fan of caviar and “has been known to splurge” on it, but he’s also a huge lover of Alaskan king crab. “Combining the two is also really decadent,” he reveals. For those of us who maybe can’t get in on both ingredients, there’s always a delicious crab-filled pasta.
Nick Hodge knows what he likes, and what he likes is scampi. Not to be confused with regular old shrimp, scampi are actually Dublin Bay Prawn. “Once a year,” he says, noting the crazy cost associated with the langoustine.
Chef Marysol Foucault also turns to water when selecting her favourite ingredient to splurge on. The Ottawa-based chef reveals that “sustainable, fresh, local” fish is always her go-to. It’s no wonder, considering the myriad possibilities that can result from one delicious fillet.