It should probably come as no surprise that the favorite new ingredients of Matthias Merges, the executive chef at Charlie Trotter’s acclaimed restaurant in Chicago, aren’t exactly items you would pick up at your neighborhood supermarket. The restaurant’s chefs are constantly pushing boundaries and exploring—in some cases, quite literally—a world of flavors. Merges’ esoteric discoveries span the globe: grains of paradise from Africa, Korean black garlic, torch ginger from ...

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