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How To Make The Most Of Your Pantry-Based Easter Dinner, From An Iron Chef

April 12, 2020

We've all become, on some level, pantry-cooking professionals in recent weeks. Marc Forgione, however, is quite literally a professional. The Iron Chef owns a namesake New York City restaurant and received Michelin stars in 2010, 2011, and 2012—the youngest American chef to earn the honor three years in a row. He trained in France after working in his father's restaurants and has been honored in publications like Esquire.

But today? Forgione is just like the rest of us, diving into his pantry and fridge to see what he can make with what he has. While the COVID-19 outbreak has closed his restaurant and led to social distancing measures around the world, he continues to find joy in cooking.

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"I've actually been having a lot of fun kind of finding what was in there," he told mindbodygreen. "Like everybody else, you just find some stuff, and as a chef you get creative."

This time of year is also one that, normally, would see people (including Forgione) gathering their families for celebrations. With Easter today, we were curious how a celebrity chef is making do with limited resources for a celebratory dinner.

"We're doing an Easter ham," Forgione said. "I literally just went into my pantry and found some whiskey; I had brown sugar that was as hard as a brick like everyone else." And with that he was able to make a glazed ham fit for celebrating, which he shared on Instagram.

For those of us who aren't professional chefs, Forgione also gave us a few useful pieces of advice for making the most of your pantry and getting inspired to work with what you have. Here are his four tips:

1. Go back to books.

"Dust off a cookbook that you haven't read in a while," he said. "You can always substitute stuff." While substitutions may seem daunting at first, he assures they don't need to be: "If a recipe calls for maybe chopped parsley and you don’t have parsley but you have dried oregano in your pantry—use the dried oregano; have fun with it."

2. Check in on your favorite chefs on social media.

Don't have a stack of aesthetically pleasing but oft-ignored cookbooks available? This is a time social media can help. "In today's new normal, if you go on my Instagram or other chefs' Instagrams," explained Forgione, "right now people are kind of showing people how to do it." There's no better place to find inspiration than from the experts.

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3. You don't have to make a full recipe.

It's easy to get attached to the idea of a big holiday dinner, but while we're all trying to make our resources last, it's important to remember that you're just cooking for who's there. "Maybe you're only cooking for's almost like you make everything mini," said Forgione. "Instead of making a giant side dish like ramps or carrots, you do one roasted carrot and a small bowl filled with spring greens."

4. Remember what's really important.

"Celebrate with the people you love. Because at the end of the day, that's what it's about," he said. "Food is what brings us together, but it's about getting together with the people that you can. Do what you have to do with Zoom, and if you're lucky enough to live with somebody you love, set up the table."

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