5 Ways to Optimize Your Spices, According to Eric Ripert and Lior Lev Sercarz
The spices sitting in your cabinet may not have achieved their full potential.
Eric Ripert ensures every bite he serves is neither under- nor over-seasoned, because he knows this truth: Spices can turn an otherwise dull dish into an outstanding one. Fortunately for all of us, Ripert and Lior Lev Sercarz, owner of New York's storied spice shop La Boîte, have teamed up to spead their love (and encyclopedic knowledge) of spices with the world.
“Eric is incredibly talented and has a deep appreciation for food and spices,” says Lev Sercarz, who hit it off with the chef seven years ago. “We both share a passion for traveling and global cuisine, and as our friendship developed, we began discussing spice blends based on our trips and the flavors that had inspired us.” The duo is set to release a Voyager Collection of five collaborative spices, hitting shelves at Williams-Sonoma this spring, including Sesame & Orange, Seven Pepper, Mediterranean Herb, Salt & Citrus Spice and Smoked Paprika & Ginger.
For several years Lev Sercarz created bespoke, high-quality spices for Le Bernardin, so the collaboration makes perfect sense.
“We actually refer to him as the ‘Spice Master,'” Ripert says of Lev Sercarz. “Lior has a strong and deep understanding of how to develop flavors from food through seasoning, and we both have an overwhelming enthusiasm for international travel and global cuisine that seemed to dovetail naturally into a collaboration, highlighting specific regions as inspiration for distinct flavors.”
The blends are born out of a passion for travel and food, allowing customers to elevate their meals with spices from around the world—all mixed together into blends, so there’s no questioning the right from the wrong. “We would love for people to try them on anything that they already cook and eat, “ says Lev Sercarz. “We’re excited to showcase the culinary essence of our experiences and help others transform the flavors of their food with this spice collection.”
Here, the duo offer genius (and somewhat unexpected) ways to uses spices at home.
Use spices to add texture
Salt & Citrus, influenced by Ripert’s birthplace in Antibes, France, is a fragrant blend of grey sea salt, bergamot and herbs—ideal for everyday use. “I like to use this blend at the last minute, not just for the freshness of the flavors, but for the added texture it lends to a dish,” says Ripert. “It works particularly well with poached or steamed fish.”
Let spices do the work for you
Turn basic rice into a complex meal by adding a few Japanese-inspired spices into the mix. Lev Sercarz and Ripert’s blend, Sesame & Orange, features sesame seeds, soy sauce powder, orange zest and red chili flakes, offering a deep flavor bomb when combined. “This blend is a fantastic seasoning to any rice dish, chicken soup, or roast chicken,” Lev Sercarz says. “It’s a fun combination of nutty sesame, citrus notes and offers a little kick.”
Rub spices in unusual places
“When roasting chicken, I rub the spice blend between the skin and flesh,” says Ripert of his Smoked Paprika & Ginger, an Ethiopian-inspired concoction of paprika, cumin, ginger, and garlic. “This gives it a nice smoky, spicy and surprising twist.”
Don't forget to add spices to salads (and desserts)
You’re probably aware that croutons and nuts are a beautiful addition to salads, but don’t forget to raid the spice cabinet, too. Seven Pepper, an all-purpose blend of Basque Espelette pepper and black pepper, is a solid mix. “This great pepper blend is of course perfect for meats, but I also love adding it to salads, eggs and even chocolate desserts,” Lev Sercarz says. “It offers great texture with fruity notes and light heat.”
Use spices to avoid bitterness when grilling
If grilling isn’t your forte, Mediterranean herbs can help. If you don’t have Ripert and Lev Sercarz’s version, reach for wild herbs (like mint) to bring a “fresh, floral element” to anything grilled. “Our Mediterranean herb blend is perfect for roasted vegetables, lamb and couscous,” Lev Sercarz says. “The various herbs offer fresh, savory notes that lend themselves well to roasting and grilling without developing a bitter charred note.