Megu chef Frances Tariga’s favorite cheap knives, cookbooks and more.

By Max Bonem
Updated June 22, 2017
Credit: Courtesy of MEGU

Frances Tariga, former Top Chef contestant and executive chef of New York’s Megu, has called New York City home for years, but she always keeps a few of her favorite Filipino staples stocked in her kitchen for a taste of home. She shared her five kitchen essentials when she stopped by the F&W Test Kitchen this week to make her Rainbow Pride Dumplings.

The pots and pans she can’t live without.

“After Top Chef, Analon sent me some really nice copper pots and pans that are great,” she says. “Since I’m not using high heat at home, these pots and pans still hold the heat really well and still get a really nice sear.”

Her favorite kitchen tool.

“I have a ton of really high-end knives, but my favorite is a cheap one that I got from my dad,” she explains. “This Filipino knife cost less than a dollar, but it’s special and brings me back home. It requires more work and maintenance, but it’s the best.”

The cookbook she loves most.

“I read a lot of cookbooks, but Morimoto’s are my favorite,” she says. “It’s very simple and clean and explains a lot about Japanese cooking and how to properly respect the ingredients.”

The one ingredient she always has in her pantry.

“It’s a bit of a stereotype, but I always have Spam in my pantry at home,” she explains. “I get judged for it, but Spam fried rice, Spam sushi and Spam and eggs are all really delicious.”

The one condiment she always has in her refrigerator.

“One thing I always have at home is banana ketchup,” she says. “It can be hard to find in the U.S. outside of Filipino grocery stores, but it’s my favorite and I’ll eat it on everything from pasta to fried food.”