Inside the fridge of Mark Cutrara, executive chef and co-owner of Cowbell

Inside the fridge of Mark Cutrara, executive chef and co-owner of Cowbell

What are some of your staples?
Mostly condiments. I cook one meal a week at home, so most of the things in my fridge are snacks or condiments or beverages. I have my children on the weekends and I like to give them a really good and wholesome meal. Generally Sunday roast.

So you don’t have a fridge full of noses and tails?
The meat I get is fairly fresh—I’ll cook it that day. I don’t have a steak in the fridge. But bacon’s a staple.

What’s up with all the pickled stuff?
I like all pickles. I think we should eat a lot more pickles. I think pickles should be served with almost every meal. Especially this time of year. And not just cucumber pickles, the whole gamut: pickled cauliflower, artichoke, giardiniera, eggplants, peaches. I went last February to dinner at Mark Trealout’s organic farmer out in Kawartha. When we got back from ice fishing and drinking our faces off, we had dinner with his family and we ate some of the fish that we caught and all these preserves that he had prepared in the summer. It’s just the way we should be eating in North America in the winter.

If you were going to make meal out of what’s currently in the fridge, what would you make?
I could do a decent risotto. I’ve got chicken stock. I could use the artichokes, bacon, parmesan cheese. Straight up risotto, without very much protein—maybe salami.

What’s the most embarrassing thing in your fridge?
The Kitchens of India butter chicken curry paste. I was previously married and my wife loved to use this curry paste—I just haven’t had the heart to throw it out. I never eat it and I will never eat it. And yet, it’s been there since 2009. I guess it’s time to let go, huh?

Do you ever dip into those items that are supposed to be just for the kids?
Yeah, I do. I finish work quite late, sometimes 1 or 2 a.m. So when I get home I’ll cut off a whack of that No Name cheddar. It’s not quite Velveeta, but it’s close enough. I’ll have one full meal a day, and that’s at work, but by the time I get home, I need to recharge.

What’s the alien about?
When I first moved to Toronto, I had a toy alligator in the freezer for the longest time. Now, it’s an alien lives that in the freezer. I don’t know where he came from, but one of my dogs chewed off his hand and feet off at some point, so he can’t get away.

We noticed you’re reading World War Z. If the zombie apocalypse arrived, and you could only keep one condiment, what would you choose?
Grainy mustard for sure.

(Images: fridge, Davida Aronovitch; Cutrara, Renée Suen)