Food blogger and fitness buff Josh Charles has been a fine dining chef for the past eight years. A Farmington native, Charles now resides in Collinsville, Ill., but the city remains an essential influence for his career. Currently, he works as a private chef and teaches cooking classes in the area; one day, he hopes to own a restaurant. Here, he shares the eight most important spices to own to maximize any at-home cooking experience. For more information, visit or check out his Instagram pages @chefjoshcharles and @joshcharlesfitness.

Bay leaf — This base flavor is not assertive or aggressive but adds depth to stews, soups and stocks.
Chilis — Ideal for any Mexican dish to add a spicy and smoky flavor.
Cinnamon — The building block for anything sweet.
Coriander — This seed of cilantro adds a fresh taste and pairs well with cumin.

Cumin — Go-to spice for anything Mexican.
Nutmeg — This spice works well in both sweet and savory applications.
Star anise — One piece of this licorice-flavored spice gives great flavor to Asian dishes and adds depth to stocks.
Turmeric — This anti-inflammatory superfood is the building block for curries and adds color to any dish.