This Sauce Line Encourages Chef-Approved Shortcuts in Every Household
Our Pantry collaborates with ‘Top Chef’ alums for a product that is flavorful and transparent.
Carolyna De Laurentiis has been dreaming up Our Pantry for over two years. The sauce line became a kernel of an idea after her son was born, when she needed as much help and shortcuts in the kitchen as she could get as a new mom. “Generally, there just wasn’t something that I could feel really great bringing home,” De Laurentiis begins. So instead of settling, she decided to tap three chefs—experts of their crafts—and create something collaboratively that she could proudly feed her family and share with the world.
That’s how Our Pantry was formed, a company entrenched in the philosophy of transparency when it comes to ingredients and celebrating women chefs. The first line up of sauces includes a sweet ginger barbecue, developed by Top Chef star Adrienne Cheatham; a roasted tomato onion salsa from cookbook author and food stylist Mariana Velasquez; and a duo of cherry tomato sauces from fellow Top Chef alum and co-owner of Brooklyn’s LaRina, Silvia Barban.
“I decided it was time to partner with chefs that could really be our arbiters for taste and authenticity, that could help tell the story around our ingredients,” De Laurentiis explains.
It felt like the perfect opportunity for Barban, who has always been interested in jarring her own sauces after tasting grocery store selections in America and finding them lackluster. “People don’t know what a good sauce should taste like because they always have sugar and weird stuff in them,” Barban says. As someone born and raised in Northern Italy, the current options felt unacceptable, and partnering with Our Pantry—as well as De Laurentiis, who is also a first generation Italian American—was a chance to make tomato sauce right.
The tomato sauce Barban developed calls for yellow datterini tomatoes sourced from the Campania region of Italy that are handpicked at a 24 farm co-op. “This collaboration worked out great because I could have my own product, but also I could show what I grew up with and what actually the flavor profile that I like is actually like,” Barban explains. “Yellow cherry tomatoes have always been my favorite.”
In addition to that, all the other ingredients are completely recognizable: apple cider vinegar, basil, garlic, olive oil, sea salt, and black pepper. That’s it. The arrabiata has the addition of parsley and cobinaro chilies.
Making a tomato sauce is one thing, however, jarring and scaling one—and ensuring the sauce can be shelf stable—is another. This was something De Laurentiis and her team of expert chefs had to tackle during the recipe and development process.
“As a brand, we’re not putting any synthetic preservatives into any of our products, so it was really important for us to use a preserving agent that felt like something that was already in somebody’s pantry,” De Laurentiis says. That preserving agent arrives in the form of apple cider vinegar for the tomato sauces, rice vinegar for the barbecue, and tamarind concentrate for the salsa. “Organic apple cider vinegar stabilizes the sauce and that really brings the pH down just enough so that we can have a shelf life of two years.”
Barban wants customers to be creative with her sauces. Although pasta is what initially comes to mind, she encourages buyers to experiment with shakshuka, have DIY pizza nights at home, or pair the cherry tomato sauce with different proteins.
For De Laurentiis, she just wants to continue building her community of chefs, farmers, and customers, hoping everyone will get to enjoy delicious, chef-approved pantry staples with transparency and sans superfluous additives.
“Our North Star as a brand is to create a level of accountability so our customers know exactly what they’re putting in their bodies, and how it was made from seed to sauce,” De Laurentiis explains.“I just want to create pantry staples that feed people’s souls.”