Do you have all eight?
Do you consider yourself a serious home chef? Or are you just in the market for some new kitchen gadgets? With so many different options to choose from, it’s hard to know what tools truly make a difference when you’re trying to cook a special meal.
So we asked professional chefs what they use at home and at work. Their answers are both helpful and surprising. Here are eight tools everyone needs in their kitchen, according to the experts.
Stainless Steel Cookware
There are many types of cookware available, but chef Sydney Willcox of Restaurant Associates tells me that stainless steel is the best choice for cooking at home. “It is a great conductor of heat and a thick material, so it's very effective for cooking at high temperatures and holding that high heat. It is also extremely durable and can last a lifetime if it is maintained properly," Willcox says.
Another reason to go with stainless steel cookware? It can be used to cook anything because it is a non-reactive material. “It will lend itself particularly well to foods that do better at high temperatures, such as steak, or any time you want to achieve a golden-brown sear or caramelization,” the chef explains.
In terms of specific pieces, she recommends a classic skillet between 9 to 12 inches with sloped sides, a fry pan, an 8-quart soup or stock pot, and a 4-quart soup pot.
Do you have trouble slicing or cutting veggies thinly? Chef Fernando Navas, executive chef and owner of BALVANERA in New York advises keeping a Benriner Japanese mandoline in your kitchen. “I discovered it while working at Nobu and it's been one of my go-to's ever since. It's super light and precise and easy to work with. It's also super sharp. You can use it on anything,” he explains.
But Navas isn’t the only chef touting this tool. Executive chef Amy Sur-Trevino at Ferry + Main in New Hope, Pennsylvania is also a fan, calling it her favorite. “The Benriner mandoline comes with an array of easily adjustable blades for different needs—stays sharp longer to provide the perfect cut for any dish.”
Want to make margaritas or simply jazz up a glass of water? Navas suggests keeping a metal lime juicer on hand. “At home, our simple, metal lime juicer takes the prize; margarita magic.” This tool is easy to store and clean and is relatively inexpensive.
A Reliable Blender
Whether you are making a smoothie or soup, everyone needs a blender. Sur-Trevino likes the Vitamix Ascent Series. “This blender can cover almost every recipe in our arsenal. Great for the perfect sauce consistency. Amazing for soups, smoothies, dips, or frozen desserts as well," Sur-Trevino says.
A Sharp Knife
There is nothing more frustrating than trying to cook with a dull knife. Vasiliki Vourliotaki, executive chef at Kellari Tavern tells me, “Walking into a kitchen without a properly sharpened knife is like going to war without a weapon.”
A Dutch Oven
Vourliotaki also thinks everyone needs a Dutch oven in their kitchen. They are excellent multitaskers. “These pots can do the same job as a casserole or a saucepan. You can cook, steam, poach, or even bake! The perfect slow cooker as well. The lid helps to keep all the moisture in the pot, so it's great for moist-heat cooking," she says.
Serious home chefs know the importance of food presentation. Executive chef Matteo Limoli at Hudson House in New Jersey recommends the Paderno 30cm Tong. “This is the perfect tong to help you plate any long-shaped pasta with speed while giving you the most sophisticated presentation," Limoli says.
Who doesn’t love cheese on top of a salad or a fresh bowl of pasta? Executive chef Joseph Tartamella at Felina in New Jersey recommends using a microplane zester/grater. “I love using one for grating cheeses like Pecorino and Parmigiano, giving cheese a snow-like effect when plating.”
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