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Best New Chefs Obsessions

Cara Stadler on Why Chopsticks are Indispensable in the Kitchen

Best New Chef 2014 Cara Stadler

Best New Chef 2014 Cara Stadler Photo © William Hereford

Cara Stadler of Tao Yuan in Brunswick, ME is one of Food & Wine's amazing 2014 Best New Chefs. Here, she reveals her current obsessions.

Wooden Chopsticks

My favorite piece of cooking equipment. Every single person who comes through my kitchen has to be taught how to use them. They're so much more useful than tongs. I like wooden chopsticks: They have a better grip than metal ones and don't get hot. I don't carry them with me, so I end up running out and buying them.

Messenger Bag

I always have my Bensimon bag. It’s from a shop in the Marais in Paris. I don’t buy too many things for myself, and this was the only nonedible, nonwork item I brought back from France. It’s the most durable bag, and I love that bright yellow stripe. bensimon.com.

Her Mother’s Cooking

My mom was a huge part of my early exposure to different cuisines; she would cook recipes from magazines and from friends. When my siblings and I were kids, she would prepare a noodle dish for our birthdays. I always wanted fresh pasta, so we would make it together.

Her Aquaponic Greenhouse

We’re turning an empty lot behind Tao Yuan into an aquaponic greenhouse. We’ll grow celtuce, which looks like lettuce with a long, hacked stem. I also want to grow ingredients like shiso, as well as water chestnuts and lotus root, which are delicious when you can get them fresh, but awful when tinned.

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