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Hello My Foodie Friends!

[From the 2024 Spring Magazine]

How many of us still have our meals together with the family?  It was a requirement when I grew up and I miss it. Although my children had to go and grow up, I still miss mealtimes with them. Our hectic lives often challenge us to slow down and savor these moments. Although getting your entire family together for mealtime may seem impossible, the benefits of this tradition are worth practicing. “Savor” is a word we sometimes use to describe taking time to enjoy the aromas and tastes of a delicious meal. It means to slow down and appreciate the moments we enjoy with foods that taste good. But savoring also can apply to the family moments that surround family meals. Family mealtime used to be the foundation of everybody’s day.

When my mother ruled the kitchen, we relished all five senses to experience her greatness:

1. Smell - It didn’t matter what she made the aromas filled our house and brought smiles to me and my siblings. 

2. Touch - Mom would let us help with many tasks, but shaping meatballs was our favorite.

3. Sight - To witness a meal from its beginning to the beautiful finish is a treat.

4. Hearing or sounds - Listening to mom give out the instructions and using the tools to create her meals has always stayed with me. The sounds of a grater, peeler, knife chopping and grinding her spices are still in my head.

5. Taste - I saved Taste for last because let’s face it, her food was sent from heaven. She would always have a secret spice that she would add to enhance what was already great. It was an honor for her to say, “John, taste this and tell me what you think?” …Me? Ahhh sure mom!

Using spices in preparing food has not only been for just nutritional value but for flavor enhancing. Two of the most used spices in the world are Salt and Pepper.  Salt is considered the “King of Spices.” It is a natural mineral (sodium chloride) and is mined from underground.  Pepper is the second most used spice. Black pepper is the fruit of the pepper plant harvested unripe but not far from ripening--called the peppercorn. 

An essential culinary tool to have in your home is the pepper and salt grinder. Many customers have asked “Why grind salt and pepper?” There are many reasons to grind pepper or salt rather than grabbing for the pre-ground containers on your shelf. When you grind pepper, the fresh peppercorn releases volatile oils that flavor your food. These oils become dull and stale in pre-ground pepper, providing much less flavor. While salt does not go stale, there are other reasons to use a mill to grind salt. Cracked salt can add a different texture to dishes. Additionally, gourmet or specialty salts typically come in very large crystals. If you wish to use these delicious and elegant salts in your food, you will need to purchase a salt mill.  

Salt and pepper mills come in many different styles. There are three main types of salt and pepper mills that consist of the standard twist-top mills, lever operated mills, and electric salt and pepper mills. If you are going for a traditional style, the twist top mills are the way to go. This is the most common pepper or salt mill. Lever operated mills consist of two levers that you squeeze together, much like a pair of scissors. These mills are generally more modern looking. Finally, electric mills may be used if you wish to have a quick grind.  

One of the most important factors to consider when purchasing a salt or pepper mill is the composition mechanism of the blade. While many cheaper mills come with plastic blades or gears, the grinding action will eventually wear away at this plastic. In addition to depositing plastic bits in your food, these mills will cease to function. A mill with metal blades is a good choice for grinding pepper “You lika the pepper don’t you?!” However, salt will eventually corrode metal. As such, it is important to purchase a salt mill with a ceramic blade. Ceramic will stay sharper much longer than metal, as well. So, although a pepper mill with metal blades will be effective, ceramic blades may be an even better choice.

At Compliments to the Chef, we carry Peugeot pepper and salt mills. 

The Peugeot pepper mill has been reinventing itself for over 160 years. Peugeot has combined functionality and refinement in mechanisms designed to make every task a joy. Manufactured in steel, with the u'Select patented adjustable grinding system, wear-resistant and guaranteed for life, the Peugeot pepper mill benefits from a specific treatment that protects it from corrosion and preserves its cutting edge which chops the peppercorns rather than crushing them. It offers a grind that can be adjusted, from coarse to the finest, to bring out all the intensity and character of the aromas of pepper and reveal the subtlety of its flavors.

Because the pepper is ground at the last moment to obtain the full benefit of its aromas, the Peugeot Paris u’Select manual pepper mill is the ideal instrument. With its ingenious grinding adjustment system, you can very simply choose the pepper coarseness that is best suited to your culinary creations. When ground very finely, the pepper highlights its spice. Conversely, when ground more coarsely, unexpected aromas are highlighted. In the kitchen or at the table, this mill will create a sensation with your guests.

The Peugeot salt mill is a perfect embodiment of this generosity. It is equipped with a Peugeot steel mechanism, which comes with a lifetime guarantee, and incorporates into its base the u’Select patented grinding adjustment system allowing you to select the right coarseness for your food without any problem. They are simply beautiful to have in your kitchens and your dining tables. 

4 Ingredient Cacio e Pepe


  • ½ pound (8 ounces) linguine pasta
  • 1-½ cups (4 ounces) Pecorino Romano, freshly grated
  • 2 teaspoons whole peppercorns, cracked
  • 1/3 cup pasta water
  • Salt

Recipe courtesy of Erich Boenzli at


1. Bring a pot of water to a boil and generously add salt.
2. In the meantime, finely grate cheese, crush the peppercorns, and mix in a bowl.

3. Add pasta to boiling water and stir for the first couple minutes.
4. Taste the pasta water, make sure you taste the salt.
5. A minute before the pasta is perfectly al dente, use tongs to transfer pasta into a skillet.
6. Add 1/3 cup hot pasta water to the skillet.
7. Add finely grated cheese and cracked peppercorns and stir for about 1 minute until the cheese melts and clings to the pasta.
8. Serve & enjoy!

Stop by Compliments to the Chef located at 33 Railroad Place, your Neighborhood Kitchen and Cutlery store to check out these wonderful mills. Explore food together with your family and friends. 

Remember my Foodie Friends: “Life Happens in the Kitchen.” 

Take Care, John & Paula