Whether you are looking to get into culinary school, already attending one, or previously graduated, you need fresh ingredients. In school, you will have fresh ingredients on hand, every day, just as a matter of course. When you are in your own kitchen, either at home or work, you need to source the best ingredients in order to make dishes like you like to make them. It can be pretty easy to get good ingredients if you live in Kansas or Colorado or California. It can be more difficult if you are in New York or New Jersey. The article doesn’t aim to predict the best spots to get good ingredients no matter where you live, but rather offer some online resources to help bring them right to your door.
What Do You Need?
First, you have to start off with what you need. If you are into fine cooking, here is a great ingredients list from FineCooking. It is pretty expansive and niche, but is a good place to make sure you aren’t forgetting anything. Then here is a nice piece by Food&Wine, though sorry about their lame attempt to get you to click through to more pages rather than just putting them all on one page. We could go forever in all directions depending on what you like to cook, but just remember to start off with what you need, then work down toward where to find it.
If you live on the east coast and in particular the Northeast, you are going to have an easy time sourcing what you need practically year round. However, not all of us live there, so it’s important to be able to bring the coast to you.
There are too many excellent fisheries out there to name them all, but we have found an excellent resource (and our go to) in Quality Seafood Delivery. They not only list a lot of different sea-to-table vendors, but they also compare their prices. If you sign up for their newsletter, they will alert you when a catch is coming in or where stocks are low so you can snatch quality fish and shellfish before they are gone.
Grass Fed Beef
EverdayEasyEats does a nice roundup of their favorite options, and Root & Revel has a similar posts that covers a lot of the same ground. What this reveals is that the nationwide options are few but solid.
However, for this, we would recommend finding a local butcher. Last night we watched Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives and found out about il porcellino salumi in Denver. If you are in Denver, this is the place I would go for my meats. And wherever you are, this is the kind of place to be on the watch for.
Now you need some good vegetables. It is easy enough nearly anywhere except maybe NYC to grow your own herbs. This is a must. If you live somewhere that you can have a garden, then obviously have a garden. You cannot get more fresh than cutting your own lettuce minutes before eating a salad. However, in cases where neither is possible, Farmer’s Markets are your next best option.
We apologize again about the slideshow format, but CountryLiving has a good post on the best farmer’s markets around. This may not be all that helpful if you aren’t close to any of these, but it is helpful to read about how they are talking about each one. It will give you ideas on what to look for an dhow to judge whatever is closest to you. The key to any farmer’s market is to get there early.
We are certain there are tons of these, but our go-to has always been Savory Spice. Whether in one of their live stores or online, they not only have great pure spices but tons of other combinations for great cooking. They are a little weak in their pepper department, but truly a great all-around shop