Items that even chefs don’t make from scratch

Sometimes I like to dive deep into a culinary creation, making everything I can from scratch. However, there are a few items that I haven’t really given much thought to making – ketchup immediately comes to mind. It turns out that even though they spend their days creating complex dishes where they tweak every flavor, chefs also take shortcuts, especially at home. Food and Wine talked to several chefs about what they won’t make from scratch

homemade ketchup

Turns out I’m in good company – chefs Alex Guarnaschelli and Norman Van Aken both think store bought ketchup is better than homemade. You might not expect Daniel Boulud to prefer buying versus making a condiment, but he uses purchased tapenade instead of making it himself. “Usually, tapenade is made with small olives from Provence, which are pain to pit,” he says. 

It isn’t just condiments that chefs leave to others. “It’s kind of embarrassing because I’m known for my fried chicken, but I live for Publix fried chicken,” confesses chef Michelle Bernstein. Brad Kilgore – chef, restaurateur and founder of Kilgore Culinary Group – buys bacon and smoked salmon. “Both of these are really tough to do in your apartment or house, and there are really tasty, high-quality versions of both available just about anywhere,” he says. 

Photo of Easy homemade chipotle ketchup from Tinned Tomatoes by Jacqueline Meldrum

Post a comment


  • angrygreycat  on  January 7, 2019

    I go back and forth on this. I definitely buy ketchup, vanilla, and sometimes even salsa. I live in an apartment so smoking anything myself is out of the question, so I definitely buy bacon/hams/smoked salmon, etc.

    On the other hand, I make creme fraiche, yoghurt, preserved lemons, pickled onions, pesto, pomegranate molasses, salad dressings.

  • darcie_b  on  January 7, 2019

    If I think I make a better product I will make it myself, but sometimes the result is not much (if any) better so I'll buy it. That goes for labor-intensive things like Thai curry paste, although I do make homemade puff pastry. I guess I'm all over the board as well.

  • averythingcooks  on  January 7, 2019

    I still remember reading / commenting on a Food 52 Piglet review wonderfully written by Freddie Prinze Jr ……"when I have to puff my own pastry I'm tempted to tap out". I agreed then and still do now !

  • annmartina  on  January 8, 2019

    I was surprised the Florida chef goes for Hellmann's over Duke's. I thought they could revoke your Southern citizenship for that. Add it to my list of reasons I don't think Florida is a genuinely Southern state. Too many snow birds.

    I would rather use canned pumpkin than make my own puree. Creme fraiche is so much better and inexpensive to make myself.

  • Larkspur  on  January 11, 2019

    I mostly buy ketchup for my family but don’t use it myself as it’s sugary and I have insulin resistance. Once in a while I do make ketchup from scratch (with no added sugar, so I can have it) and it’s very tasty and not hard to make. I only wish it would stay fresh longer.

Seen anything interesting? Let us know & we'll share it!