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5 Famous Chefs Show Off the Inside of Their Fridges

What does a master chef keep on hand to whip up a home-cooked meal? Surely, some of the staples, like carrots, cheese, and avocados and perhaps something fancier like a little foie gras? A new book called Inside Chefs’ Fridges solves the mystery by profiling 40 top European chefs alongside the contents of their iceboxes. The photos reveal what the members of the culinary elite feel is essential to their domestic food supplies, be it a standard like red bell peppers or a wildcard like juniper berries in apple vinegar. Take a peek inside the fridges of five different Michelin-starred European chefs: 

1. BO BECH

The Copenhagen-based chef behind Geist (and reality show host) likes to keep bags of garlic and chiles hanging from his kitchen ceiling, always at the ready. His fridge houses Scandinavian pickled elderberry flower bulbs and hay milk cheese, rosehips in brine, pickles, and produce. He also has a few mystery condiments “left by ex-girlfriends.” When whipping up something at home, however, the award-winning chef usually opts for simple spaghetti in classic sauces. 

2. MASSIMO BOTTURA

Bottura, the culinary leader of Modena, Italy’s Osteria Francescana, has an entire room outside of his kitchen just for his fridge. He stocks it with comfort foods sealed in Ziplocs—like lamb chops straight from his sous chef’s farm. There’s also several types of pickled onions, homemade marmalades, jams, and aged prosciutto. And don't forget the Activia. 

3. HÉLÈNE DARROZE

The proprietor of Restaurant Hélène Darroze, with locations in Paris and London, was named the best female chef of the year by Veuve Clicquot this year. Her fridge is always stocked with fresh produce, foie gras, sardines, and cheese, but occasionally a frozen pizza finds its way onto the shelves as well. She keeps yogurt and chocolate milk around for her daughters, too, just under the wood pigeon stew.  

4. SVEN ELVERFELD

The Wolfsburg, Germany-based chef at Aqua loves Greek foods and homemade jams from his mother. He always keeps a green Frankfurt sauce made of watercress and herbs on hand. His fridge also has venison liver pate, wild garlic pesto, and German quark (a cheese). 

5. MAGNUS NILSSON

Nilsson’s restaurant, Fäviken, is one of the most isolated culinary destinations in the world, located on a private estate in northwest Sweden. He prefers his root cellar to a fridge. There he keeps hand-churned butter and local ham, and a bevy of fermented and pickled vegetables in jars. The avid forager keeps pickled marigold flowers, fermented bean paste, fresh mushrooms, and birch sap syrup in his custom-designed cellar.

Get the book here.  

All images courtesy of TASCHEN

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The Truth Is In Here: Unlocking Mysteries of the Unknown
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In the pre-internet Stone Age of the 20th century, knowledge-seekers had only a few options when they had a burning question that needed to be answered. They could head to their local library, ask a smarter relative, or embrace the sales pitch of Time-Life Books, the book publishing arm of Time Inc. that marketed massive, multi-volume subscription series on a variety of topics. There were books on home repair, World War II, the Old West, and others—an analog Wikipedia that charged a monthly fee to keep the information flowing.

Most of these were successful, though none seemed to capture the public’s attention quite like the 1987 debut of Mysteries of the Unknown, a series of slim volumes that promised to explore and expose sensational topics like alien encounters, crop circles, psychics, and near-death experiences.

While the books themselves were well-researched and often stopped short of confirming the existence of probing extraterrestrials, what really cemented their moment in popular culture was a series of television commercials that looked and felt like Mulder and Scully could drop in at any moment.

Airing in the late 1980s, the spots drew on cryptic teases and moody visuals to sell consumers on the idea that they, too, could come to understand some of life's great mysteries, thanks to rigorous investigation into paranormal phenomena by Time-Life’s crack team of researchers. Often, one actor would express skepticism (“Aliens? Come on!”) while another would implore them to “Read the book!” Inside the volumes were scrupulously-detailed entries about everything from the Bermuda Triangle to Egyptian gods.

Inside a volume of 'Mysteries of the Unknown'
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Mysteries of the Unknown grew out of an earlier Time-Life series titled The Enchanted World that detailed some of the fanciful creatures of folklore: elves, fairies, and witches. Memorably pitched on TV by Vincent Price, The Enchanted World was a departure from the publisher’s more conventional volumes on faucet repair, and successful enough that the product team decided to pursue a follow-up.

At first, Mysteries of the Unknown seemed to be a non-starter. Then, according to a 2015 Atlas Obscura interview with former Time-Life product manager Tom Corry, a global meditation event dubbed the "Harmonic Convergence" took place in August 1987 in conjunction with an alleged Mayan prophecy of planetary alignment. The Convergence ignited huge interest in New Age concepts that couldn’t be easily explained by science. Calls flooded Time-Life’s phone operators, and Mysteries of the Unknown became one of the company’s biggest hits.

"The orders are at least double and the profits are twice that of the next most successful series,'' Corry told The New York Times in 1988.

Time-Life shipped 700,000 copies of the first volume in a planned 20-book series that eventually grew to 33 volumes. The ads segued from onscreen skeptics to directly challenging the viewer ("How would you explain this?") to confront alien abductions and premonitions.

Mysteries of the Unknown held on through 1991, at which point both sales and topics had been exhausted. Time-Life remained in the book business through 2003, when it was sold to Ripplewood Holdings and ZelnickMedia and began to focus exclusively on DVD and CD sales.

Thanks to cable and streaming programming, anyone interested in cryptic phenomena can now fire up Ancient Aliens. But for a generation of people who were intrigued by the late-night ads and methodically added the volumes to their bookshelves, Mysteries of the Unknown was the best way to try and explain the unexplainable.

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Trash Collectors in Turkey Use Abandoned Books to Build a Free Library
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Adem Altan, AFP/Getty Images

A stack of books abandoned on the sidewalk can be a painful sight for bibliophiles. But in Ankara, Turkey, garbage collectors are using books left to be discarded to build a free library. As CNN reports, their library of salvaged literature is currently 6000 titles strong.

The collection grew gradually as sanitation workers began saving books they found on their routes, rather then hauling them away with the rest of the city’s trash. The books were set aside for employees and their families to borrow, but eventually news of their collection expanded beyond the sanitation department. Instead of leaving books on the curb, residents started donating their unwanted books directly to the cause. Soon the idea arose of opening a full library for the public to enjoy.

Man reading book at shelf.
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With support from the local government, the library opened in the Çankaya district of Ankara in September 2017. Located in an abandoned brick factory on the sanitation department’s property, it features literature for children, resources for scientists, and books for English and French speakers. The space also includes a lounge where visitors can read their books or play chess. The loan period for books lasts two weeks, but just like at a regular library, readers are given the option to renew their tomes.

People reading books in a library.
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The experiment has proven more successful than anyone anticipated: The library is so well-stocked that local schools, prisons, and educational programs can now borrow from its inventory. The Turkish sanitation workers deserve high praise, but discarded book-loving pioneers in other parts of the world should also get some recognition: For decades, José Alberto Gutiérrez has been using his job collecting garbage to build a similar library in Colombia.

[h/t CNN]

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