I’m one of those fancy chefs who serves small portions, treats the plate like a canvas and uses flowers and ingredients you’ve never heard of. But I’m also a fan of shortcuts.

Many of the world’s best chefs will readily admit to resorting to shortcuts when they’re cooking.


While we were staying at the Casa Tres Coronitas in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, last October, I asked the house chef, Marilu, to show me how to make her famous salsa. She was giving me a lesson and it was nothing out of the ordinary — tomatillos, onion, garlic, chiles de arbol, salt. And then she reached into the cupboard to pull out her “secret ingredient” — Knorr powdered chicken bouillon. Sure enough, when I tried it at home (with the bag of Knorr powdered chicken bouillon Marilu picked up for me at the supermercado), it contributed a salty umami depth that was missing before I added it. Couldn’t have been the MSG, could it?? More

The Fastest Chili in the West!

I was in a pinch! I had to go out and needed to feed my family. Desperately searching my nearly empty fridge (we were going on vacation), freezer and cupboards, I found a can of beans. Inspiration took over — I could make a quick chili!

Practically instant chili

Practically instant chili

Despite what the chili-heads and aficionados will try to tell you (and sell you), chili doesn’t have to be a complicated or obtuse affair. Indeed, some of the chili I’ve thrown together in a pinch with ground turkey and tomato paste, for example, have been better than the fancy versions with heirloom tomatoes and tri-tip that I’ve labored over across the course of days. More