New York’s Best Spice and Ingredient Store Where All the Serious Chefs Shop

By Jessica Ferrer
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Photo By Laura Cortesi

Tucked away in New York’s East Village is Save Our Spices, home to spices and flavors from all over the world. It’s a place where chefs go for that one hard-to-find spice they can’t seem to get their hands on anywhere else, readily accommodated by owners Atef Boulaabi and Adam Berkowitz. But the home cook looking to revamp their pantry or the foodie who wants to pick up something unique will also be welcome here. Save Our Spices, also known as SOS, isn’t sending out their signal for someone to come rescue them — it’s the customers who come in to be rescued. 

Boulaabi is a native of Tunisia, where she says their narrative revolves around the kitchen. It’s little wonder then that SOS offers a wide variety of products to keep that narrative going. Spices range from familiar to less-so, pushing boundaries and perceptions of what makes “a normal pantry.” It’s a playground for food lovers and the curious alike, colors and scents abound. 

Ever seen a bouquet of fresh saffron? You can at SOS, where they sell “specially handpicked” saffron from Iran. Have a recipe that calls for dukkah? Pick some up at SOS, and while you’re at it, take a look at the oils, vinegars and other specialty products. There are beans and lentils, chocolate, dried fruits, herbs, honey and more, and as the seasons change you’ll find something new every time you go in. Opening up a product and smelling it or even tasting is encouraged, as our questions. SOS stocks products from all corners of the earth and Boulaabi works hard to “stock the unstockable,” so sometimes to know what to do with Tunisian tabelor pure honey from Yemen is to ask. SOS has the answers. 

When the store opened in 1996, it provided a place for professional chefs to go for specialty items and spices. Now as the doors are open to everyone, anyone can feel like a chef with a little help from SOS. 

For more information on various spices, cooking methods and more, review few of our
favorite books on spices, herbs and flavor: 


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