The One Ingredient Adrienne Cheatham Can't Live Without - Exclusive

Adrienne Cheatham knows the value of quality ingredients. As an accomplished chef, Cheatham came in second place during the 15th season of "Top Chef." She has also worked at renowned restaurants such as Eric Ripert's Michelin-starred Le Bernardin as well as Red Rooster, including working with owner and cookbook author Marcus Samuelsson on the "Red Rooster Cookbook." In addition, Cheatham has published her own cookbook, "Sunday Best," helping to bring quality recipes to home cooks. 

Despite much of her work being focused on quality cooking at home, Cheatham has never produced a direct-to-consumer product — until now, that is. She has recently partnered with Carolyna De Laurentiis' Our Pantry. In an exclusive interview with Mashed, Cheatham admitted there was one thing that made all the difference with Our Pantry: the ingredients. 

"I looked at doing a couple of direct-to-consumer products before, and the companies that I was approached by weren't really caring about sourcing. They didn't care if the items are grown organically or if they're sprayed with tons of pesticides and stripped the earth of all the nutrients without any type of planting that gives nitrogen back to the soil that we're taking these resources from," Cheatham said. On the contrary, Our Pantry prides itself by using only high-quality, traceable ingredients. Now, Cheatham has revealed the one ingredient she can't live without.

Bringing the flavor

The answer is simple, but to Adrienne Cheatham, it's a clear choice. "I feel like salt is obvious because there's no world in which I could cook without salt. It makes you taste everything so much better," she said.

It's not only taste — as Cheatham pointed out, salt offers an important chemical reaction that can affect whether a recipe turns out or not. For example, salt can affect how much a bread dough rises (via Busby's Bakery). "I worked in pastry for a bit, and even the pastry chef said, [for] every recipe, if it doesn't have salt in the recipe already, always add a pinch of salt. And it's true. ... It's true from a chemical standpoint for what it does to doughs and batters, but also flavor-wise, it opens everything else up."

Cheatham is not the only chef who feels this passionately about salt. Chefs Anthony "Spice" Adams and Frankie Celenza have also touted salt as the most important ingredient when it comes to cooking. 

Even used in small amounts, Our Pantry does not ignore this crucial ingredient. The salt used to make sauces such as the Cherry Tomato Sauce is high quality and sourced from Italy. It is this care that makes all the difference to Cheatham. "That was the most important factor," she said, "working with people who care about what they're doing, who care about where things come from, and finding people who are doing things the right way."

Our Pantry's full line of sauces is now available for sale from