Nine secret weapons that chefs can't live without

Nine Secret Weapons That Chefs Can't Live Without

(Photo by Jonny Valiant )

Great chefs source hot sauce and mayo as carefully as they do pork chops and fresh herbs. So we asked nine of the best to show us their favorite under-the-radar, dish-elevating pantry staples.

Red Boat fish sauce

(Photo: Courtesy of Red Boat)

1. Red Boat fish sauce

Paul Qui - East Side King, Austin

"It's umami in a bottle—anchovies are fermented in barrels and sea salt, then pressed. Add it to brines to dial up the deliciousness of fried chicken and brisket."

Available at

(See more: Asian Hot Sauce Taste Test: Beyond Sriracha)

Boat Street Pickles pickled figs or pickled raisins

(Photo: Courtesy of Boat Street)

2. Boat Street Pickles pickled figs or pickled raisins

Tom Colicchio - Colicchio & Sons, N.Y.C.

"These work well on a cheese plate. But because they're not too sweet, they're also good with meat. Use to baste pan-roasted pork chops in a skillet, or add 'em to pan juices to make a sauce for steak, fish, poultry."

For more information, visit

(Photo: Courtesy of

(Photo: Courtesy of

3. Fennel pollen

Casey Lane - The Tasting Kitchen, L.A.

"This is the Italians' magic dust—potent and aromatic. Sprinkle it in olive oil for a bread dip that'll have your dinner guests fiending."

Available at

Kewpie mayonnaise

(Photo: Courtesy of

4. Kewpie mayonnaise

Chris Santos - Beauty & Essex, N.Y.C.

"Unlike some gloppy American mayonnaises, Japan's Kewpie is silky smooth like an aioli. And it's a damn tasty way to dress fresh veggies and tomatoes."

Available at

Scalia anchovy paste

(Photo: Courtesy of Marc Jacobs and Eugenia Kim)

5. Scalia anchovy paste

Justin Smillie Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria, N.Y.C.

"A nuttier alternative to sea salt that punches up pastas, sautéed greens, and marinades. Brush it on grilled flatbread or pizza at a summer barbecue, or whip it with olive oil for the best Caesar-salad dressing ever."

Available at

Shark brand sriracha

(Photo: Courtesy of Shark)

6. Shark brand sriracha

Todd Mitgang - Crave Fishbar, N.Y.C.

"It's better than the 'rooster' sriracha everyone uses; it starts out sweet before seducing you with heat. Use it as your favorite hot sauce, which means pour it on everything."

Available at

Taggiasche olives

(Photo: Courtesy of )

7. Taggiasche olives

Alain Ducasse - Adour, Washington, D.C.

"The Rolls-Royce of olives. Grown on the Italian Riviera, they're sweeter, more subtle, and more delicate than others but still add a powerful savoriness to fish and tapenades."

Available at

Muddy Pond sorghum syrup

(Photo: Courtesy of

8. Muddy Pond sorghum syrup

Sean BrockHusk, Charleston, South Carolina

"It's like honey or molasses but more mellow and with a vegetal hit, and it tastes so good on biscuits or in vegetable vinaigrettes."

Available at

Peppadew piquanté peppers

(Photo: Courtesy

9. Peppadew piquanté peppers

Eddie Huang - Baohaus, N.Y.C.

"Swap in Peppadews for banana or red peppers—they're tangier and fruitier. Inside a grilled cheese is another great call."

Available at

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