Top Chef Finalist Buddha Lo's Budget-Friendly Tip For Pairing Caviar

Buddha Lo has been killing it this season on "Top Chef." He's had four wins — the most of any contestant so far — including the infamous Restaurant Wars, and is now one of the final four heading to Paris for the finale. But before this season's World All-Stars, Lo actually won "Top Chef" when it was in Houston for season 19. 

Between seasons, Lo has been creating stunning dishes and tasting menus as executive chef at Huso, a seafood restaurant located inside the Madison Avenue location of the New York City caviar shop Marky's. The dining spot is currently closed due to a fire that happened back in March, but when it reopens, the main attraction will once again be caviar. The delicacy is included in every dish on the tasting menu — even dessert. So, it's safe to say Lo knows a thing or two about caviar and roe

But for those of us who aren't used to eating caviar or have never even tasted it, the ingredient seems like something only the elite eat as it's very expensive, usually at least $80 per ounce. And with several different kinds from Sevruga to Beluga, it's hard to know where to start. Is one type of caviar better than another? And since it is so expensive, is there an alternative that's more budget-friendly? Thankfully, Lo has the answers for us.

Start with Kaluga caviar

Many different types of caviar are available today, but the "Top Chef" finalist always recommends starting with Kaluga. "I think it's the most mildest in flavor, but a really, really great experience," Lo says. "Not too overly fishy, not too salty, and a great price point." This variety is on the lower end in terms of price, according to the chef, but if you still feel that you can't afford it, he suggests using either salmon or trout roe as an alternative. 

Now that we know which caviar to start with, how you serve it is entirely up to you. Of course, you could serve it in the classic style on a toast point or blini with a little crème fraîche, but Lo has a few other ideas. "I have a repertoire of over 100 dishes of caviar," he says. "My favorite combination still, hands down, it's a very high-brow/low-brow sort of a thing: hash browns and caviar, and fried chicken and caviar." While he doesn't serve these in his restaurant, Lo has done variations on these two pairings in the past.