What's your favorite new ingredient?
Bulgarian-style yogurt. It's a really tart cow's-milk yogurt we get from Bittersweet Plantation Dairy near New Orleans. It makes an incredible summer soup with cucumbers, a little bit of garlic, wild ramps and some walnuts, with some fresh dill thrown in at the end.
What's the most versatile spice?
One of the best spices is white pepper. People think white pepper is a softer version of black, but it really has its own flavor. We also use Grains of Paradise pepper. It's very intense.
What's the most underused spice?
I think everyone should be using ajowan. It's an Indian spice you can find in any Indian market. It has a slight celery flavor and goes well with anything that's citrus. It's incredible on seafood. I make lobster and orange vinaigrette with ground-up ajowan.