Shannon Kellam of Montrachet’s tips on the French staples all home cooks should own
Got the goods to elevate your cooking? Oui do.
While many are perturbed by attempting French classics like omelettes, soufflés and sauces, having the right ingredients on hand to add some classic French flair to your everyday cooking never goes astray!
Shannon Kellam (owner and chef of Montrachet, King Street Bakery, and the newly opened MICA Brasserie) is an expert when it comes to French cuisine, and recommends all aspiring home cooks stock up on the below ingredients to elevate their at-home cooking and dining.
Moutarde | mustard
An essential ingredient for so many dressings and sauces, Shannon recommends you keep both Dijon and wholegrain mustards on hand. Use fragrant Dijon to whip up an impressive vinaigrette to dress your simple leafy salad, or enjoy the je ne sais quoi that studs of whole mustard grains to give your grandma’s potato salad.
Beurre | butter
Essential for baking, sauteeing off mushrooms, and enriching sauces, butter is the magic ingredient that makes food rich, glossy, and generally irresistible. Shannon recommends seeking out a high-fat butter like the Mungalli Creek Dairy butter they use at Montrachet.
“Whether you’re cooking with it or simply spreading it on bread with some salt, it’s worth seeking out the real thing – we turn ours into truffle and honey butter, and also caramelised onion butter,” he said.
Pain | bread
You can’t talk about butter without talking about bread! Use it on classics like croque monsieurs or French onion soups, blitzed up into crumbs to sprinkle on a gratin, or soaking up sauce.
While plenty of people got into making their own bread during lockdown, we recommend stopping by a French bakery like MICA or King Street Bakery to pick up an authentic long-fermented loaf made by the experts (and grabbing a pastry or two while you’re there).
Herbes | herbs
Whether you keep a stock of dried herbs in the cupboard or snip away from your own garden, herbs impart a fragrant, delicate element to your dishes that would otherwise be missing.
“Thyme, saffron, parsley, and tarragon are some of the usual suspects when it comes to herbs in French cooking, but they’re applicable to so many other cuisines as well,” said Shannon.
Vin | wine
“It is a bit of a misconception that you can compromise on quality when it comes to cooking with wine, but I recommend that you only add wines that you’d like to drink to your food!” said Shannon.
Treat dinner guests to a classic coq au vin, bœuf Bourguignon, or pot au feu with some good glugs of wine, and don’t forget to save a glass for yourself!
Consider Shannon your own Ratatouille—a French cooking spirit guide, leading you through your future kitchen escapades!
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