This Is The One Ingredient Geoffrey Zakarian Can't Live Without - Exclusive

Every pantry has its staple, but for celebrity chef Geoffrey Zakarian, there's only one ingredient that he would consistently turn to for a wide variety of dishes. The Food Network star recently partnered with Harry & David and now has his own seasonal collections of gourmet foods and luxurious wines as he told Mashed in an exclusive interview. "Is rosé an ingredient?" Zakarian jokingly asked. While that favorite ingredient might make it into his collection at some point when rosé season rolls around, there is one ingredient Zakarian keeps stocked year round. 

"Assuming you have salt and pepper," he said, "all food is a balancing act. You're balancing, like anything else, sweet, sour, bitter, salty, spicy, all those flavors. You need to have acid," Zakarian explained. "Whether it's ... lemon juice or other acids, you need acid," he added. There's something particularly special about the sophisticated flavor of a specific ingredient that keeps him reaching for it. 

This is why Zakarian loves chardonnay vinegar

Though Zakarian explained that home cooks can use many different kinds of acid to brighten and balance dishes, there's one special component to chardonnay vinegar that makes it the celebrity chef's favorite. "I love chardonnay vinegar simply because chardonnay vinegar, it's very juicy," he said. "It's [got] a little bit of grape juice in it, so it's a slightly sweet vinegar. I know that sounds odd, but it really brightens up everything. Everything needs acid," Zakarian explained.

If you're still wondering how he uses such a specific type of vinegar, the dishes and recipes he adds it to span everything from condiments to cooking foods in the liquid. "I use that basically in every single dressing I've ever made. I use it to toast things with. I use it when I'm making something that needs to be aigre doux or sweet and sour," Zakarian said. "It's a very potent item that, when you taste something without it, then you taste it with it, you realize the difference," he said. 

Follow Harry & David's The Table Blog for Geoffrey Zakarian's posts and collection. "Big Restaurant Bet" premieres on The Food Network Tuesday, April 5 at 10 p.m. ET.