What's the Most Expensive Ingredient You've Used?

Categories: Chow Bella

Welcome to Chow Bella's Bites & Dishes, where Valley chefs and restaurateurs respond to a question New Times food critic Laura Hahnefeld has on her mind. Have a question you'd like to ask? E-mail laura.hahnefeld@newtimes.com. Miss a question? Go here.

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David Zickl
White Truffles
It's no secret that top-notch chefs and restaurants have their favorite ingredients, but when it comes to ones that empty the wallet, what are they willing to pay?

This week, a fellow Chow Bella contributor had the same question. So I asked chefs and restaurateurs in the Valley which ingredient they've spent the most on. Here's what they had to say:

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Chef Kevin Binkley
Binkley's and Café Bink

White truffles from Alba, Italy, are without a doubt the most expensive product I have ever ordered. They've ranged anywhere from $2,500 to $5,000 a pound, depending on the season. I wish I didn't love them so much, seeing how incredibly expensive they are.

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Silvana Salcido Esparza
Chef and owner, Barrio Cafe and Barrio Queen

The most expensive and farthest-delivered ingredients are for the mole, [and they] come directly from Tehuantepec, Oaxaca, to Tijuana on the Baja California Peninsula, where I have to go to pick them up. I have a contact here locally that does the hook-up for me, as well. It's worth every last effort and penny.

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Jason Alford
Chef, Roka Akor

100 percent grass-fed wagyu from New Zealand. We are currently the only U.S. restaurant that carries it.

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Christopher Gross
Chef and owner, Christopher's & Crush Lounge

White truffles from Italy at $3,000 a pound! I'm glad it's a fungus with no controversy, but then there's caviar! Where are the people protesting that product?

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Charles Wiley
Chef and food and beverage director, ZuZu

We regularly order fish from Honolulu Fish Co. in Hawaii because it's so absolutely fresh and pristine.

Joe Johnston
Owner, Joe's Real BBQ, Joe's Fresh Farm Grill, Liberty Market, Agritopia

Rather than an ingredient, our 1965 FAEMA E-61 espresso machine was in an espresso bar in Milan, Italy, for decades. It was sourced by Mr. Espresso in Oakland, refurbished, and sent to us for $10,000. If only it could tell stories of the people it has served for the past 47 years!

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