Every up-and-coming chef needs the key essentials in their kitchen to begin their journey toward the top. These essential kitchen items are extremely handy to carry out some of the most basic tasks in the kitchen such as chopping, frying, boiling, measuring, etc.
From the perfect kitchen knives kit, a handy chopping board, a meat thermometer, to the best nonstick frying pan and other accessories, we have compiled a list of items that would benefit any budding chef in the fast-paced restaurant environment, or even when cooking for fun at home.
1. The Perfect Chef’s Knife
One of the most important kitchen tools for any chef – amateur, professional, or budding – is the perfect chef’s knife. In fact, a chef is incomplete without a set of specific knives for different chopping or slicing purposes.
If you work at a restaurant, you do not need to take your kitchen knives along, but it is better to have that one special chef’s knife that assists you best in chopping tasks. For other jobs, you can use the restaurant knives which are already provided.
The reason why the right knives are so important is that much of a chef’s time is spent preparing the food. Therefore, a knife that is comfortable in the hand, sharp, and is well-balanced is always essential for a chef. It also depends from one chef to another exactly what type of knife they prefer. 10-inch knives with a rosewood handle can be quite comfortable for budding chefs.
Being able to use a knife with speed and precision is important when you are working in a fast-paced kitchen environment. Therefore, you should carry your special kitchen knife that you are familiar with.
2. A Chopping Board
You cannot chop your vegetables and meats all on a countertop or a tabletop. Not only is that unsanitary, but it can also prove to be a severe health hazard. Glass or stone cutting boards are unique and look gorgeous in a kitchen, but they may not be as practical and durable as wood or plastic chopping boards.
A budding chef should keep a minimum of three plastic or wooden chopping boards in the kitchen: one for vegetables, one for meats, and one for seafood. This helps avoid cross-contamination and keeps your kitchen, knives, and countertops free of any bacteria swimming around and transferring to cooked foods.
Ideally, you would invest in something that is hard and thick enough so that it does not wear out or get grooves every few days or weeks. These grooves and bruises can harbor bacteria inside, so it is best to replace your chopping boards every few years.
3. A Meat Thermometer
A meat thermometer is a crucial addition to your kitchen toolkit as it helps in cooking your meats to perfection and ensuring that they are not overdone to the point that they become dry.
These handy gadgets can save you a lot of time in the kitchen when handling meats. If you are a chef at a restaurant, your customers may have different preferences for their meats. Some may prefer rare, or medium, or even well-done styles of meat. If you mess up once and accidentally overdo it, you may need to start all over again.
You can easily avoid the slip-ups with a meat thermometer at your side and use it to measure the temperature and whether the meat has been cooked according to the customer’s wishes.
4. A Nonstick Frying Pan
You do not need multiple varieties of nonstick frying pans because one is often enough unless you do a lot of egg frying daily.
Nonstick frying pans are especially handy when it comes to saving time in the kitchen. They also allow chefs to cook in less oil as food will not stick to its surface. Additionally, they are extremely easy to clean, and you will never need to scrub. Scrubbing can be damaging to a nonstick frying pan, peeling off its protective nonstick layer.
Instead, you can wash the grease off with a sponge soaked in soapy water and they are good as new again. If you prepare eggs or stir-fry, or other fried items daily, then keeping one or two of these in a pan or wok variety can be extremely handy.
5. A Mandolin
A mandolin is a crucial kitchen accessory in most professional kitchens around the world. An experienced chef can certainly chop rapidly with precision and keep the thickness of the meats and veggies even, but a mandolin does all of that at twice the speed.
In busy restaurant settings, you will need extra chopping speed, which is where a mandolin comes in handy. The stainless steel, French mandolin sits on a countertop and is very inexpensive. You can switch between its different blade options to suit your chopping needs and slice vegetables as thin as paper if need be.
Since a chef’s time is mostly spent preparing for the meal by chopping and slicing vegetables, mandolins can make that task easier and quicker.