Mar 23, 2022 - Food and Drink

Musi chef Ari Miller talks favorite meals and home cooking tools

Ari Miller
Ari Miller, chef and owner of Musi BYOB. Photo courtesy of Kiki Aranita

Ari Miller, the chef and owner of award-winning Musi BYOB, got his start in Tel Aviv kitchens.

  • After landing in Philly, he worked at Zahav and High Street on Market before launching the small restaurant in Pennsport with a focus on seasonal, local ingredients.
  • Philadelphia Magazine crowned Miller's cheesesteak, the Frizwit, the best in the city last year.

Axios asked Miller a series of questions for our culinary advice series, Chef's Table:

πŸ”ͺ Must-have tool in your home kitchen: A sharp chef's knife.

  • There's no way around this. Not a set of knives! Whatever money you were planning on spending on a set, spend on one, great knife.
  • I've got a Batwing Gyuto from Pellegrino Cutlery. It's a functional, utilitarian tool that gets used as such. Plus, it comes with a lifetime guarantee.

πŸ›’ Go-to grocery store: Riverwards Produce and the Rittenhouse Farmers' Market.

  • Riverwards is amazing. It's the platonic ideal of a grocery store. They also carry the best cut flowers. My wife goes to the Rittenhouse Farmers' Market, and I'll hit up the Headhouse Farmers Market on the way to work. We're both huge fans of The Pasta Lab, which is sold at both.

πŸ§‚ Most overlooked seasoning: Salt.

  • Learning how to salt correctly, appreciating the different approaches to salting and developing your own style is important.
  • Of course all the pros swear by Diamond Crystal Kosher, and that cult is well-deserved. But there are great non-industrial producers as well and worth your consideration. I've got a thing for Jacobsen Salt from out on the Oregon Coast.

🍽️ Favorite home-cooked meal: Schnitzel.

  • I use chicken breast or pork loin, sliced thin (remember that chef’s knife!), and then hammer it out.
  • Pro tip: Use one of those banned plastic shopping bags for the pounding. Those things can really take a beating and nothing happens to them.
  • Flour, egg wash and bread crumbs. Fry. I like my schnitzel thin and fried hard. I test the oil's readiness with a few breadcrumbs dropped in. The cooking time is color coded β€” fry till deep brown perfection.
  • At home, I usually fry in a mix of whatever oils we have around (avocado, canola, bacon grease). Just remember to salt right after taking it out of the oil.

πŸ‡»πŸ‡³ Last restaurant you went to and your order: Gabrielle's Vietnam.

  • We had tapioca dumplings, lemongrass tofu and the chicken wings, among some other items.

☝️ Quick tip for at-home cooks: Just cook. Keep it simple and don't overthink.

  • Shop local and non-industrial when you can. Support small businesses.
  • Don't worry about failing, ruining a dish or how it will look in a photo. It's called a learning curve for a reason. It applies to everyone. Trust your eyes, nose and mouth, not the date printed on the package.
  • Get the good olive oil. Meat comes wrapped in paper, not styrofoam. Tomatoes are best in season. Actually everything is best in season.

πŸ• How to unplug: Spending time with my dog Coconut. She's a wiggly, cuddly, love bug.

  • And also travel when possible. Sometimes the dog comes along, which is mostly not at all annoying!
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