Chefs Reveal the 29 Items They Never Buy Pre-Made

whipped cream homemade
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Chopped champion Silvia Baldini remembers one of her first jobs on the line at the Ritz-Carlton in London: Peel as much garlic as possible. Her hands smelled terrible for days, but the exercise taught her to appreciate quality produce and the beauty in small details. Besides, pre-peeled cloves are most often moldy and soggy, so she didn't have much of a choice.Similar to Baldini, you'll never see these 29 chefs purchase pre-packaged stock, pesto, garnished meat, and other supermarket mainstays. While there is a time and a place for shortcuts (note: chefs love these), some foods are worth the wait, according to these industry pros.

01 of 29

Chicken or vegetable stock

chicken stock
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"The flavors are richer and have more depth when you make it yourself." – Brad Kilgore, chef and owner of Alter and Kaido, and founder of Kilgore Culinary Group

02 of 29

Guacamole and Pico de Gallo

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"Some things have to be done in the moment. The flavors and textures of fresh ingredients are at their best when you first open them, especially vegetables. Fruits and vegetables start dehydrating, deteriorating, and oxidizing very quickly. There is nothing wrong with eating a guacamole prepared two hours prior, but there is a gigantic difference in the color, texture, and flavor." – Oscar del Rivero, partner and chef of Jaguar Hospitality Group

03 of 29

Spice Blends

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"I feel spice blends give identity to the person cooking and offer individuality towards a dish. Most chefs should make their own." – Chintan Pandya, executive chef of Adda Indian Canteen and Rahi

04 of 29


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"It's better if it's made fresh and ready to order." – Makoto Okuwa, executive chef and partner of Makoto

05 of 29


fresh meatballs
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"I would never buy frozen meatballs or pre-made guacamole. It's a crime!" – Markus Glocker, executive chef of Augustine

06 of 29

Pre-Dressed and/or Meat on Sale

stuffed chicken
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"Some things I don't want to tempt fate with… One is meat that's been marked down to make room for new inventory. That's a huge no-no for me. The other is pre-made stuffed chickens, fish, and other meats. I get a weird feeling about something like garlic-and-cream-cheese-stuffed chicken breast sitting in a meat cooler for a day or two. Just doesn't feel right to me." – Leonard Botello IV, owner and pitmaster of Truth BBQ

07 of 29


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"Being Asian, rice is a staple for me and seeing ready-made rice or instant rice in supermarkets just annoys me. It only takes 10 to 14 minutes to make rice from scratch and it definitely taste nicer than the instant/ready-made version ." – Nicholas Tang, chef of DBGB

08 of 29

Salad Dressings

salad dressing
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"I'd be lying if I said that I didn't have some ranch dressing in my fridge, but other than that, I'm always ready to make my own. I always have at least two great mustards, olive oil, tahini, some type of miso, special vinegars, and fresh citrus. With those ingredients alone, you can make endless variations. They will always taste fresher than something bottled that sits in your refrigerator for who knows how long." – Katy Smith, executive creative chef of Puesto

09 of 29


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"It's simple –– it's just never as good if it's pre-made." – Michelle Bernstein, chef and owner of Café La Trova

10 of 29


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"Pesto is one of those items that I feel screams, 'Make me fresh!' After the first fresh-made pesto you try, you'll never look at that little package of pre-made pesto the same." – Chris Feldmeier, executive chef of Love & Salt

11 of 29

Pre-Peeled Garlic

garlic cloves
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"Those cloves are most of the time moldy and soggy. One of my first assignments when I worked at the Ritz-Carlton in London was to peel garlic. Every morning my station was piled up with trays of garlic. It was a very unglamorous task and my hands smelled terrible for days, however I got fast at it and I learned to appreciate good quality produce and how perfection is in the small details." – Silvia Baldini, Chopped champion and founder of The Secret Ingredient Girls

12 of 29

Juice, Dressings, and Marinades

squeezing lemon juice on fish
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"I always squeeze my own juice and make my own dressings and marinades. Juice is a breeze to squeeze and better than anything you can buy. I love dressings with lots of lemon, and I am a sucker for the pucker of fresh squeezed lemon juice." – Helene Henderson, cookbook author, chef, and owner ofMalibu Farm

13 of 29

Salad Mix

preparing salad
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"The bottom line is you don't know if it's actually fresh or how it was handled." – Josh Gripper, executive chef of The Dutch

14 of 29


making hamburgers
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"Frozen, processed hamburgers are the worst. Full of fillers and any leftover garbage. Straight garbage!" – Dan Jacobs, partner and executive chef of DanDan, EsterEv, and Fauntleroy

15 of 29

Tikka Masala

tikka masala
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"Really, any jars of sauces are a no-go. My wife brought premade tikka masala recently and it was revolting." – Jeremy Ford, chef and partner of Stubborn Seed

16 of 29


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"I would never buy guacamole, hummus, or salsa. All of those dips are so easy to make at home, and I love making them with my kids. It's also often times cheaper to purchase the separate ingredients than buying the pre-made items." – Trevor Hoyte, executive chef of Machine: Engineered Dining and Drink

17 of 29

Ground Beef

grinding beef
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"I'll never buy pre-ground beef at a supermarket. I always go to a butcher and ask them to grind it for me, depending on what I'm making. In New York, I usually go to International Meat Market in Astoria. It's a secret place of incredible goodness. – Mina Newman, executive chef of Sen Sakana

18 of 29

Dry Mixes

making batter
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"I never buy any pre-made dry mixes for things like cornbread, hush puppies, or biscuits. While they're convenient in a pinch, they are never as good or as fresh as making your own from scratch." – Charlie McKenna, owner and executive chef of Lillie's Q

19 of 29


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"For a French chef like myself, sauce is so important –– so, I never buy pre-made." – Sébastian Giannini,executive chef of Kingbird

20 of 29

Pre-Chopped Garlic

chopping garlic
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"Tubes of pre-chopped garlic are gross… and just lazy. Just buy fresh garlic…chop it, press it, slice it… I never understood that one." – Jimmy Papadopoulos, executive chef of Bellemore

21 of 29

Pre-Sliced Fruit

chopping fruit
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"I don't understand it. It takes no time to take out a knife and cut your own." – Robert Cantu, executive chef at Grand Tavern by David Burke

22 of 29

Pasta Sauce

tomato sauce
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"My wife and I argue about this one, but I hate store bought pasta sauce. That being said, I know there are some brands out there making it better and better, so I am sure my mind will change soon." – Gerard Craft, chef and owner of Niche Food Group

23 of 29

Chili In a Can

chili ingredients
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"I just can't do it. I know ultimately there probably isn't anything wrong with it, but it freaks me out that you have "meat" sitting on a shelf at room temperature." – Natalie Saben, executive pastry chef at Pacific Standard Time

24 of 29

Miso Soup

making miso soup

"I cringe when I think of pre-made miso soup. The beauty of a house made dashi and a quality miso that still has all of the umami and nutrients in tact from not overcooking makes all the difference." – Alex Becker, creative culinary director at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino

25 of 29


making pasta
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"I have all the attachments for my mixer at home to be able to make all my own pasta. Also, I find it almost therapeutic. I open a bottle of wine, put on "Hotel Costes" on Spotify and get zenned out while I make pappardelle." – Mike Brewer, chef at Copper Vine

26 of 29

Stuffed Fish

stuffing fish
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"Grocery stores often sell fish and meat this way as a way to make money and to use up their supply of herbs and spices. But, in my experience, it's pretty simple to make similar marinades and stuffings with leftover ingredients and spices around the house." – Ian Rynecki, executive chef at The Tasting Room at Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards

27 of 29

Processed Fruits and Vegetables

fresh fruit jam
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"In most cases, these items are easy to prepare and more cost effective than the pre-processed alternative." – Kim Canteenwalla, executive chef of Andiron Steak & Sea and Honey Salt

28 of 29

Veggies In a Can

fresh vegetables
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"If you can get super fresh and organic produce, why buy artichokes or hearts of palm in a can? That is a big no-no." – Horacio Rivadero, executive chef of Plant Miami

29 of 29

Whipped Cream

whipped cream homemade
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"I can't tolerate it! And it is so easy to whip up at home, it is unforgivable not to." – Roberto Santibañez, chef and owner of Mi Vida

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