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

Categories: Bites & Dishes

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.






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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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