Stephanie Izard swears by these condiments.

By Bridget Hallinan
Updated January 28, 2020
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When you’re pressed for dinner on a weeknight, you have a few options. You can order takeout and call it a night; cobble together something easy, like scrambled eggs; or, dig through your freezer for something to defrost. If none of those sound appealing, there’s always door number four—a condiment contest that Chicago chef Stephanie Izard plays with her family. 

“I love to go through my fridge, look at all the condiments that I have in there, and mix them together and make a marinade,” Izard tells Food & Wine, “and then just do a simple chicken, throw it on the grill. We do that as a game, to see who can make the best condiment mix marinade.”

Typically, Izard says she’ll grab ranch, which she typically keeps in the fridge, along with fish sauce, Dijon mustard, sambal oelek or Sriracha, and Worcestershire if she has it, along with a few other ingredients. The hodge-podge combination hits a few key notes needed to make a good marinade—the creamy ranch sticks to the chicken, fish sauce adds funkiness, and the sambal oelek/Sriracha adds a little heat. Fish sauce is especially crucial, she says, as it really adds great flavor, and it ultimately helped her win the last condiment challenge they played. 

“You wouldn’t think that fish sauce and ranch would go together in a marinade, but I’m telling ya, it’s delicious,” she laughs.

We caught up with Izard at the 12th annual Cayman Cookout (hosted at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman) where she shared everything from her plans to expand Girl & the Goat to Los Angeles over the summer to writing her next cookbook, which she hopes to work on this year. She also revealed her desert island condiment: Kewpie mayonnaise, because you can put anything in it, and it usually goes into her homemade marinades as well.

She’s not alone, either—David Chang previously told Food & Wine Kewpie mayo is “the best mayonnaise in the world, because it has MSG,” and Niki Nakayama is also a huge fan.

Long story short? If you’re planning on hosting a condiment showdown in your kitchen any time soon, fish sauce and Kewpie mayo will give you a huge starting advantage. May the odds be ever in your favor.