The famous saying says that a bad workman blames his tools, but I don’t fully agree with this. There is definitely something to be said for high-quality cooking tools in the kitchen. A good chef can’t do their job without having important tools that will help them. Having the very best quality when it comes to utensils is the very first step in becoming the incredible chef that I know you all can be.
the right piece of equipment makes all the difference and many chefs start to develop favourites when it comes to things they use in the kitchen and every chef has different preferences. The only real way to establish the best tools for you is to try a whole range of different things out for yourself, with different methods and different uses to find the things you need the most and the things you like the most.
Here are my favourites. They may not work for everyone, but I’ve got my fair share of experience and I like to think I know what I’m talking about, so at the very least, give these a go and tell me I’m wrong – you won’t of course, because these are the very best and if you don’t like them then you’re using them wrong.
A Decent Chef’s Knife
Nothing can be the precision and beauty that comes with the city of a super sharp and high-quality chef’s knife. It is undoubtedly the most important tool to build a foundation for your kitchen arsenal. You’ll use your chef knife for so much and spend a lot of your time in the kitchen with this is your hand, so it’s important that you get one that’s right for you and one that feels comfortable in your hand. When choosing your chef’s knife, don’t skimp out on the price.
Go to a proper cook’s shop and try out a few different brands. the perfect one for you should be perfectly balanced when you balance it on your fingertip where the blade meets the handle. There are plenty of varieties to choose from, with loads of different materials for the handles and the blades themselves. I would always go for a metal blade as it can be re-sharpened time and time again. As for the handle, this is totally down to personal preference as to how it feels in your hand. Try and avoid plastic handles as these are susceptible to breakages and can be dangerous.
An Electronic Thermometer
A good thermometer is the key to being a responsible and excellent chef. Until you become an expert chef, you won’t be able to tell by look and smell alone whether food is cooked perfectly. Not cooking meat, especially, to the right temperature can be hazardous to health and dangerous to serve. Invest a little bit of money in purchasing a really good thermometer that is accurate all the time.
thermometers aren’t just for safe meat though, it can be used for baking, cooking sugar and even making cocktails! Don’t be silly, get a thermometer.
While nothing is as good as a knife for really good cuts, a mandoline can be a great tool in a fix for getting a lot of things cut up very quickly – perfect for a professional chef environment. A decent mandolin often comes with plenty of blade options for different cuts depending on what it is that you are preparing and the design of the dish. My favourite blade is the one that can cut vegetables literally paper thin, making for beautiful presentations of fine dining dishes.
You can also julienne vegetables with a mandoline and cut french fries in a flash.
People always think I’m weird when I whip out my handheld spice grinder at parties, but it’s not my fault their party food and spread is as bland as store-bought bread. Buying one off amazin is pretty cheap, but make sure you get one with a removable bowl at the base so you can wash it easily and avoid cross-flavour contamination. I use mine to easily grind fresh herbs and chunky spices for a subtle pop of flavour.
However, they are also really great for grinding coffee beans! Chef hack!
Cast Iron Pan
Cast iron cookware is the one thing that every home, kitchen and restaurant should always have, without a doubt. Their usefulness is unparalleled and can be used for cooking literally anything. They may take a bit of getting used to seeing as they cook things so fast if you don’t heat them up right, but once you are used to them, their help in cooking is great.
Cast iron pans also last forever – literally. Care for them and keep them seasoned and you’ll never have to buy another one.
All the tools that you cook with should have a rubber counterpart in your kitchen arsenal. Metal utensils can damage pots and pans and you want to avoid that at all costs, rubber can work just as well, without the damage.
Plus, a rubber spatula is much better for scraping the barrel of a processor when you’ve been whipping up mixes, humous and everything else you need a processor for. Be wary though, they are a bit more likely to break and you should replace them as soon as you see any signs of wear and tear. Bits of plastic can break off and fall into food – not yummy.