Every great creator has tools that he or she loves. Artists have their brushes, stylists have their scissors, and chefs—well, we have our knives. You’ll see them slung over the shoulders of contestants on any popular cooking show, and we often carry them as a badge of honor. This is for good reason. A great knife can change the way you work in the kitchen. It makes a chef more efficient, it’s safer, and food looks better when it’s precisely cut. But knives aren’t the only tools that we rely on to do our jobs well.
Here’s a rundown of the tools The At Home Chef loves:
- Great knives. Okay, I basically covered this one, but it’s worth repeating. A great knife changes everything in the kitchen. If there’s anything I want to reiterate, it’s that a knife is worth the investment. Don’t cheap out on it. You need to try on your knife in the kitchen. Go to a store where you can hold one. Feel it in your hand and make sure it’s a good fit. Don’t order it online or just grab one when you’re in a hurry. A great knife is an investment, and it’s worth being intentional in your decision.
To be very specific, every kitchen needs a great chef’s knife. These are the classic kitchen knives that have a lot of horsepower in your work. They chop, slice, dice, and smash, and they are sturdy. The second great knife you need is a pairing knife, which makes cutting with precision and accuracy a heck of a lot easier.
If you can only invest in one great knife, invest in a chef’s knife. Regardless of how many you have, take great care of them. If you treat your knives well, they will last a long time. I take my knives to the genius Chris Weist at Cincy Sharp. He keeps my knives sharp and the perfect tools to use day in and day out.
- A sturdy cutting board. I prefer cutting boards that are big enough to be a full work surface, not those small little ones you can get at any grocery story. Specifically, I prefer wood ones, and I’ve always turned to David Bach at Cincinnati Wood Collaborative for my butcher’s blocks and cutting boards. Having a durable surface to work on makes it significantly easier to prep food efficiently.
- High-quality pans. A set of durable kitchen pans will also vastly improve your cooking experience. You’ll know when you’re using a bad set: food sticks, they’re unbalanced on the stovetop, or it heats unevenly. A great set does none of those things!
- A nice set of dishes. I’ve mentioned this before in my post ‘Three Tips to Create a Beautiful Plate,’ but serving your food on a beautiful plate or bowl makes it look infinitely better. Colors, shapes, and sizes impact the way your meal looks. Honestly, why work so hard to make a delicious, beautiful meal and then serve it up on a junk plate? It just doesn’t make good sense! You don’t need to spend a fortune—you can shop online for Mitchell Supply on www.wasserstrom.com or www.webstaurantstore.com for unique and interesting dishes.
As much as I love a great cooking show, I also recognize how easy it can be to want all of the latest and greatest kitchen gadgets. But if you stick to the basics, you’ll be set for any dishes and meals you want to cook!