This is Chef’s Staples, where professional chefs dish on the gear they couldn’t cook without. This week: Chef Rick Ortiz of Antique Taco in Chicago, IL.
Rick Ortiz is the chef and owner of Antique Taco, a three-location string of Mexican restaurants in Chicago, Illinois. Ortiz’s background, like his restaurant, is a deep mix of high- and low-brow sensibility — the chef worked at two Michelin-starred Relais Sainte Victoires and in the kitchens of Chicago’s Soldier Field. These are four of his favorite pieces of cooking gear.
La Caja China Roaster
“I love my Caja China. It took some time and some pointers to get it right, but I continue to learn more and more of its many uses. It is great for cooking for family and friends in your backyard or at outdoor events. We’ve cooked cochinita pibil low and slow and turkeys for Thanksgiving dinner. I like to use the exposed hot charcoal or wood embers on top for direct cooking a pot of frijoles charros or posole. Be sure to add the grill grate attachment to cook your favorite Vegetables. I love it for elotes with spicy mayo, grated Parmesan and a sprinkle of ground champulines (grasshoppers).”
Hedley & Bennett Aprons
“I’m also obsessed with my Hedley & Bennett Aprons. I have quite a few. They are comfortable and hold up to the wear and tear of the kitchen or just make you feel fresh. I have one for each season and for different types of work. I have a few brighter and lighter Hedley’s for the spring and summer when I am cooking carne asada or seafood over a hot grill, and darker heavier thread Hedley’s for the fall and winter when we are making hot caldos and smoking meats.”
Three-Pack of Tongs
“The tool I use most frequently are my tongs. Small, medium and long should do the trick. I use small tongs for garnishing, medium tongs for serving vegetables and proteins and long tongs for cooking over high heat. If you have a hot pot with handles and one side towel you can use your tongs to hold the other handle. You can use your tongs to spread out the hot charcoal and wood. If you use your tongs enough they eventually become an extension of yourself.”
5 Rabbit Beer
“My favorite ingredient is beer. Not just any beer but 5 Rabbit Beer. 5 Rabbit is an artisan latino cerveceria in Bedford Park, Illinois. I like to use it in my Marinades and for finishing sauces and beans. The 5 Lizard Cerveza helps make a great brine for chicken cooked asado style and their Xicago is great for rounding out beans and guisados. Enjoy one or two while you cook. It makes everything taste better.”