Tools of the Trade That I Wouldn’t Trade….by Chef Isabella

kitchen toolsThe million dollar question: How many kitchen gadgets, tools and appliances does one really need?  Some people collect kitchen gadgets; others can get by with a paring knife, a spatula and a frying pan. No one’s judging because there really is no right or wrong nor rhyme or reason.

Friends are surprised when they come into my kitchen. I’m a professional chef but my kitchen is not as well-equipped as some people might think. I don’t have all the gadgets and tools that make every single job easier and I certainly don’t have all of the latest appliances in the season’s hottest colors.  It’s not that I don’t want them, but I have a small kitchen. Space is limited so I can’t impulse buy. I really have to think twice (and sometimes three times) when I’m at the store with the latest and greatest gadget in my hands. “Do I only want it because it’s cool?” , “Is this something that I’ll use once and then forget about?” and “Is this worth the money and space?”

The kitchen tools that I find indispensible have two things in common:  they’re well-madel and they can be put to multiple uses (or at least can be put to use often). Quality is everything and it’s certainly worth paying a few dollars more for something that will work and last without falling apart in your hands. I also look for tools that I can use for a number of tasks. Take ice cream scoops, for example. I have 3 different sizes. Sure, I use them to scoop ice cream , but that’s obvious. The other reasons they’re useful is that I also use them to make meatballs, portion our cookie dough and scoop out fish cake mix.

Another item that works double-duty for me is the good  old measuring cup. If you spent time in the kitchen, you probably already know that measurements for dry and liquid materials are different. A cook has two options: One is to buy a set of dry measuring cups and a liquid measure, OR buy a measuring cup that is marked for both liquid and dry measurements. I have a cup on hand that allows me to measure both. Along with it, I have a tempered-glass, microwave-safe, measuring cup (2 cup volume) and I use that a lot.

Here’s what else I have:

  • Spatulas, wooden spoons and rubber (or silicone) scrapers
  • Speed peeler.  I use a u-shaped one because it’s really precise
  • Tongs of different sizes
  • Soup ladle
  • Slotted spoon
  • 3 serving spoons
  • Mallet
  • Large rectangular grater and a small hand grater
  • 8 inch chef knife, a paring knife and a carving (serrated) knife
  • Different sizes of mixing bowls
  • 2 cutting boards that differ in size
  • Sturdy whisks (2 different sizes).
  • Electric hand mixer
  • Food processor
  • Blender (this appliance is really pushing it for me. The food processor can handle almost everything a blender can, but a blender is my personal indulgence

As far as pots and pans, if you open up my cupboard, here’s what you’ll find:

  • 1 gallon stock pot
  • 3 different sizes of non-stick pans (6, 8, and 12”)
  • Cast iron skillet (my favorite!)

I have a few other tools, too but these are my “must haves.”  It’s probably not what you expect but what I have does the job!