2 Grocery-Store Products Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian Will Never, Ever Buy

And other words of wisdom.

Photo by: Anders Krusberg ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Anders Krusberg, 2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

This weekend while accepting the 2018 Torch Award for outstanding contributions to the restaurant industry at the International Restaurant & Foodservice Show, Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian gave us some wisdom about what to avoid at the supermarket, spotting a good restaurant, parenting and staying healthy.

1. Don’t buy cheap butter and ice cream.

That butter you see on sale for $1.99 a pound and pretty much all of the ice cream in the supermarket is likely a rip-off. "Buy the most expensive butter on the shelf," recommends Chef Zakarian. Manufacturers of cheaper butter may blow water into final product leaving it heavier and prone to spatter all over your kitchen, he says. When this lesser product hits the hot pan, all the water in the butter starts to evaporate sending the butter all over the place. Instead, you should look for good quality butter that is, unfortunately, more expensive. You’ll lose less in the end, says Chef Zakarian. He advises that you should seek out the more expensive European-style butters like Plugra, which have a higher butterfat content. As far as ice cream goes, GZ is not a fan of anything in the supermarket, as even the premium brands probably blow in air, which expands in the freezer. His picks are neighborhood ice cream shops that churn out a higher-quality product every time. 

2. A good restaurant starts with the hostess, not with great food.

"The first six people you see in a restaurant determine how you will experience the food," says Chef Zakarian. If the hostess is standoffish and the bartender ignores you, by the time you get to the food you’ve already formed an opinion about the restaurant. "The kitchen is usually a well-oiled machine," says GZ, but if you’re already put off you won’t experience the food as you should. His other restaurant pet peeve is places that won’t seat an incomplete party. "In all of my years, no party has ever not shown up after the first person has arrived," he mused.

3. Cook for your family.

"Cooking keeps the family together," he says. Despite his busy schedule, he tries to cook breakfast for his family each day. Before coming to the show, he made a "giant plate of rigatoni with meatballs" for his kids’ playdate that afternoon. His baby’s first solid food was an "organic apple braised by Dada," he declared. Must be nice to have an Iron Chef as a father! 

4. The secret to staying trim is exercise and portion control.

Iron Chef Zakarian wakes up every morning at 5 a.m. to exercise. Sorry, we know that’s not what you wanted to hear! But he is also a big believer in eating whatever your body craves, so long as it’s in "in proper portions," he cautions. "No more protein than in the palm of your hand," he explains. But then again, balance is key. "I had a huge burger last night and I ate all the fries," he said with a smile. 

Catch GZ on The Kitchen, as a judge on Chopped and in the new season on Iron Chef Gauntlet premiering April 4 at 9|8c.

Keep Reading