Welcome to Fridge Tours, where we peek inside the personal refrigerators of chefs, bartenders, and food world personalities to see how they eat off the clock, in the privacy of their own homes. For our next installment, we visited chef Josh Pinsky of Momofuku in his Bushwick, Brooklyn apartment.
When I arrive at Josh Pinsky’s apartment in the midst of a bunch of warehouses in Bushwick, it’s a cold morning in early December, all the colder for being just barely 8 AM. The Momofuku Ko chef will need to be in the restaurant all day for office work, so he asked me to come over bright and early. Fortunately, he’s kind enough to greet me with a cup of hot coffee even as he sips the tonic that his girlfriend, Jenna, makes for him almost every day—turmeric, ginger, lemon, and a host of powders and tinctures. But don’t be fooled into thinking it’s all health food up in here—the snacks, it turns out, are just hiding in the cabinet.
Name: Joshua Pinsky
Title: Corporate chef for Momofuku Group
How long have you lived here? Two and a half years.
I ask because we saw one chef’s fridge just two weeks after he moved in, and it was very clearly not indicative of how it’ll look after it’s been lived in for a while.
Oh no, this is how it always is. We just did an opening [of a Momofuku restaurant], but there’s usually a lot of food because I cook at home. There’s a lot of stuff in the fridge, but it’s mostly just…stuff. We just got those two cases of royal pears from Oregon that Jenna’s mom sends everyone every year.
Are these the Harry and David pears?
That’s so funny.
I had no idea what they were until I had one four years ago and was like, “Oh, yeah, these are really good.” The other case is for her twin sister; she doesn’t get packages at her apartment, so her mom sends everything here.
So tell me about the condiment situation. What are the things you have to have, between the two of you.
Well she doesn’t really eat a lot of condiments. This [picks up bottle of Newman’s Own] was left over from when her sister got married and I cooked dinner for the family, and I bought them dressing. But this [picks up Wish-Bone Italian dressing] is the only thing that’s always in-house. This is the most important thing in the whole fridge.
Because I put it on everything. On everything. [Jenna, from living room: “Oh yeah, that’s his thing.”] Just, childhood. They have three Italians and “House” is the best of the three. ... I would love to be the brand ambassador. I hope they reach out.
What are your fridge staples? What do you make sure is always stocked?
The Wish-Bone, her grapefruit [LaCroix] sodas, the Claussen pickles—it’s what I grew up eating, it’s by far the best pickle—she likes yogurt, so there’s always that. [La Esquina] is the best brand salsa you can buy in New York. I think I probably eat a jar of salsa, almost two, every week.
How long have you been with Momofuku?
Seven years and six days.
And how many of the restaurants have you worked for or opened?
[counting on fingers] One, two, three, four, five, six… seven… eight? If you count Nishi twice.
Which one has the best walk-in to steal leftovers out of to bring home? What’s your favorite thing to steal to bring home?
At least when I was at Nishi, it was definitely Nishi. There was always stuff to snack on. If family meal was good, I usually stole some family meal at the end of the night. What else did I used to bring home? Oh, pistachio Bundt cake. I brought cake home for Jenna every night. And then, when we started making focaccia bread, I liked bringing that home.
Do you prefer keeping tuna in the fridge?
I do, so when I make it, it’s already cold. I eat a lot of tuna.
That’s really smart, no one likes luke-warm tuna salad.
I’d never done it until a few months ago when I was really hungry and decided to make a tuna sandwich, and was like, ‘Wow, I’m really sick and tired of eating this warm goop.’
This pre-made chef salad seems a little out of place.
[sighs] Yeah, I was going to hide that. I normally have salad-making things, but whenever I go to the market closest to the house, they have that one, and I just really like the pinwheels of meat.
What’s your preferred home olive oil?
We went to Italy a few months ago, and we brought home some olive oils that you just can’t get here. Like this Peppe Guida was really awesome, he’s a chef from south of Naples. And I know everyone says Tuscan olive oil is the best, or whatever, but I think the fact that we were at his farm and he had a couple cases there, I ended up really liking it. And that’s what I’ve been working off of as far as finishing olive oils. Other than that, no preference. Regular home cooking workhorse oil is Spanish olive oil or grapeseed oil. It’s the same stuff we use at most of our restaurants. It’s not super expensive, but it’s not spicy either.
You don’t seem to be big junk food people.
Oh we are. [opens cabinet, revealing snacks] Pop-tarts are my thing right now. Tortilla chips for the salsa are a must. If we buy chips, we eat all of ‘em right away, so we buy little bags to feel better about that. I eat a lot of peanut butter.
Tell me about your beverage situation up there. What is this Old Crow up on the shelf?
That bottle is pre-prohibition. I’m not sure how much that’s worth, but two other people in the company are huge bourbon collectors, and they don’t even have it, and they have everything. So I think it’s actually worth some money. It was a gift from one of my first chef-mentors who came for ‘Friends and Family’ when we first opened up Ko, and he gave it to me. I think he said he bought a case a long time ago, and he’s sober. So I guess he just sits on ‘em now to give away as gifts. But it’s pretty cool. I think he got it at an estate sale. You can see on the bottom that there was a flood so the bottom of the bottle has gravel and mud on it from a basement.
What would be the occasion to open that?
I don’t know, like opening up another restaurant, one that was just mine, I guess. A wedding. My wedding? Or with my friends who are bigger collectors than I am, who might appreciate this more. I’d wait and drink it with them.
Thanks for letting us be nosy, chef!