Where Atlanta chefs shop for spices

Your DeKalb Farmers Market is a hit with chefs stocking up on spices for their home pantries

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Where Atlanta chefs shop for spices

Photograph by fcafotodigital / Getty Images

Your DeKalb Farmers Market is beloved for plenty of reasons: The Decatur behemoth serves the diverse Atlanta metro with hard-to-find ingredients at (mostly) reasonable prices, from produce from all over the world to extensive selections of fish, meat, cheese, and more. But the grocery store’s especially a hit with chefs stocking up on spices for their home pantries. Like Ron Hsu, the James Beard–nominated co-owner of Lazy Betty and Humble Pie. While Hsu gets spices in bulk for his restaurants, his go-to for home cooking is YDFM’s spice section, its shelves lined tightly with plastic tubs arranged in alphabetical order.

In addition to grocery-store standards like paprika and red pepper flakes, you’ll find lavender flowers, mango powder, Sichuan peppercorns, and gumbo filé. Another staple of Hsu’s shopping list: sumac, the tangy, scarlet-hued spice made of ground-up berries that’s often found in Middle Eastern dishes. “If I was doing a lamb braise, I could spice it with sumac, finish basmati rice with it,” says Hsu. He also sprinkles it on labneh to make a dip for pita and crudites. If he’s making pho, YDFM is where he goes for cinnamon, cardamom, and star anise. The store also keeps concentrates for soups and stocks in its spice section, another offering Hsu appreciates. “I have a tub of chicken glace that I use when I don’t have time to make a chicken stock,” he says—for chicken potpie, for instance.
The selections are also especially affordable; a pint of ground sage might cost less than two dollars. “I wouldn’t go to Whole Foods looking for black cardamom, but I would go to DeKalb Farmers Market,” Hsu says.

This article appears in our June 2023 issue.

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