Secret Ingredient: Just Add Old Bay

June 27, 2018 Updated: October 8, 2018

Collin Smelser, executive chef of Costero in Los Angeles, uses Old Bay in just about everything.

Secret Ingredient: Old Bay, a classic spice blend of celery salt, chili flakes, pepper, paprika, ginger, and mustard. A ton of flavor, a little salt, and just the right amount of kick. Growing up in Maryland, it’s everywhere. It’s the heavy seasoning you’ll typically find when you order Blue Crabs.

How to Use It: When I was a kid, I would skip the ramen seasoning packet and add Old Bay instead. Now I sneak it in anything I think it should go into, which is a lot. It’s just a way to season and add a depth of flavor that is kind of hard to put your finger on. It’s an ingredient in my season-all mix as well, which we use on fries, potato salad, and burgers. Try Old Bay on chicken, to season your fried chicken, or on your breakfast potatoes. Sub it out as your salt in a recipe, it may surprise you!

Collin Smelser, executive chef, Costero, Los Angeles. (Courtesy of Costero)