Inside the Fridge welcomes famed food critic, North Dakotan newspaper columnist and Top Chef guest judge Marilyn Hagerty! Marilyn has been writing for the Grand Forks Herald since 1957 and recently gained international fame, when her EatBeat restaurant review of the Olive Garden went viral. Hagerty then appeared on talk shows such as Anderson Cooper and Good Morning America, and she is now working on a book with chef and TV personality Anthony Bourdain. Marilyn was named the 2012 winner of the Al Neuharth Award for Excellence in the Media, previously given to Walter Cronkite, Tom Brokaw, and Garrison Keillor. She recently appeared as a guest Quickfire Challenge judge on Top Chef: Seattle “Even the Famous Come Home.”
ITF: Where do you shop for food?
MH: I shop for food usually at the nearby Hugo’s Supermarket.
ITF: Do you love food shopping or dread it?
MH: I rather enjoy food shopping and looking over the products available.
ITF: What is the single most important thing on your mind when you are shopping for food?
MH: When I am shopping I am thinking of things I like and trying to pick up a well-balanced array of nutritious food.
ITF: What is your weekly food budget?
MH: I don’t have a weekly food budget. Sometimes I spend as little as $30. Often it goes up to $40, $50 or more. But then, I buy cleaning supplies, paper products, light bulbs, etc. at the supermarket.
ITF: How do you plan your weekly meals? Create a spreadsheet of fly by the seat of your pants?
MH: I plan my weekly meals very loosely since I eat out several times a week. I want meals with meat and vegetables. I buy soups although I don’t think they are as good as homemade cup. I guess I fly by the seat of my pants.
ITF: What is the most coveted food in the fridge right now for each member of the household? Why?
MH: Right now the most coveted food in my refrigerator is some shrimp I have been buying frozen at Hugo’s. They are $6 or $7 and I eat them with the cocktail sauce they come with. They are very good.
ITF: Do you believe in leftovers?
MH: Yes, I believe in leftovers. I eat a lot of them because I am alone and I don’t finish off a can of soup, can of tuna or anything like that in one meal.
ITF: What convenience product can you not live without?
MH: I buy raisin bread and toast it. I find lately that I want that every day. Not one slice, but two. And, I hate to admit, I have even eaten three.
ITF: What brands do you swear by? Why?
MH: I swear by DelMonte canned products because long ago my father worked for a wholesale grocer that specialized in DelMonte brand. And I grew up thinking it was superior. I still choose name brands over store brands, although some store brands are very good.
ITF: When you hear the word “homemade” what is the first thing that comes to mind?
MH: When I hear the word homemade, I think of bread. I have never made bread. I like to make potato salad, egg salad. I make them better than anyone else. I think.
ITF: What food/s are important when recalling food memories?
MH: I recall homemade foods from childhood. We had homemade soups. We had fried chicken. We always had vegetables, rarely salads.
ITF: If one person could cook for you tonight, who would it be?
MH: If one person could cook for me tonight it would be Anthony Bourdain. That would be an adventure.
ITF: What words of wisdom or advice do you have for other folks who are doing their best every day to fill the fridge?
MH: My advice for others would be to shop carefully. Buy fruits when they are in season. Buy as much as you can in the fresh produce department.
ITF: Anything else?
MH: Because I have a good appetite, eating and shopping for food is always a great adventure. I like to read about food, and I like to experiment. But I always go back to the basics.
Thank you Mrs. Hagerty!
If you are interested in participating in Inside the Fridge, please email intern Leah at Leah@robinplotkin.com.