Condiments of the Chef

A chef shares his inventive recipes for pickles, relishes, glazes and other complements to simple grilled foods.

Even a purveyor of the haute and esoteric like chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten understands the appeal of mustard and ketchup. "Nothing's better than a steak with mustard, or fries with ketchup," he says. "The food is fatty, so we're looking for contrast in the condiments--good acidity, something refreshing." Of course, at his restaurants, including Jean Georges, one of New York's toughest reservations, the condiments are more exalted: wasabi-pickled cauliflower, inspired by the pickled daikon he found in a Kyoto market, and saffron cucumber pickles, modeled after his Alsatian mother's--to name just two. The best thing about Vongerichten's pickles, marinades, marmalades, glazes and relishes, all meant to go with grilled food, is that you don't need a platoon of kitchen workers to prepare them; even home cooks can balance the richness of a burger with tangy tamarind glaze or pickled Jerusalem artichokes.

--Jane Sigal

PUBLISHED June 2002

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