1. Black Garlic
The talent behind four New York City eateries (including the Michelin-starred Momofuku Ko), Chang uses the fermented garlic cloves puréed, roasted, and raw. "They add depth and pair well with almost every protein."
The superchef (whose ABC Kitchen won the 2011 James Beard Best New Restaurant award) adds this salt-water-grown seaweed to meats and starches to enhance their savoriness. "Its umami flavor is like magic."
3. Sea Beans
This Thomas Keller protégé now runs NYC's Lincoln, where he experiments with sea beans in crudo and salads. "They're crunchy with a high water content, so you get a burst of salinity. Like taking a bite of seawater."
4. Senise Pepper
A Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef who launched Berkeley's veggie-centric Gather, Baker fries and purées the southern-Italian senise pepper. "Sweet, with a little bit of heat, it's also very rich and has a bitter edge."
The el Bulli vet and chef at Bazaar in Los Angeles dusts oysters and seasons soups with mace (the unsung husk of the nutmeg seed). "Warm and sweet, mace is more delicate than nutmeg and adds a bright earthiness."
6. Juniper Berries
The Iron Chef contender behind San Francisco's Boccalone and Incanto cooks juniper berries both dried and fresh. "If you like gin, you'll like these. They're pronounced and punchy—reminiscent of skiing through pine trees."
English, a three-time James Beard-award winner, adds this earthy Middle Eastern spice blend to ground lamb and roasted fish. "Instead of adding olive oil or butter, you can get big flavor with za'atar."