Tools of the trade

Truth is that I don’t have that much at home myself and it doesn’t take much if you’re not feeding a ton of people. It’s better to only have a few pieces of good equipment then a cabinet full of junk. Trust me; you can cook a lot in one pan. But we’ll get to that later.

This is a basic list of things you’ll find handy but don’t feel the need to rush out and get it all at once. Find what works for you and make the most of it.

A good knife

The first thing that you should buy is a Knife (this is why I love my job) and a good one Chef’s Knife:Everyone has their favorites and most of the time it’s whoever is paying them to endorse their brand. Most “Pro” Chefs leave there good knifes at home cause they don’t want em to get messed up. It makes no sense to spend that much money on something you don’t need or use. It’s like an old lady with a big block V8 who only uses it to go get her hair done. Then there are the idiots who have no respect and use the house knifes. I don’t trust a plumber who doesn’t own his own wrench and I don’t trust a chef who doesn’t have the respect for his profession to own at least one good knife.

Cutting Board:

What good is a knife if you can use it? You need to get a Cutting board. This is quite literally your canvas. It’s where things start and it’s where they end. The size you need depends on how much counter space you have and if you’re a single guy living in a one bedroom Apt then you probably don’t have much in the way of room. This is one of the few times that I will say that bigger is better since it’s a pain trying to cook in a cramped space. Since you’re most likely to not take care of a Bamboo board I recommend you get one of the composite boards. Make sure that when you use your Board that you place a damp rag under it to prevent it from slipping while you use it. I’ve seen dudes get stitches because they were in a rush and didn’t take 5 seconds to do this. Also, even if the rest of the Kitchen is a mess, keep your board and Knife clean.

POTS and PANS.

Do not buy your stuff and the local Mega Mart. That crap looks shiny but it doesn’t last. Do not buy anything that has plastic. Plastic melts. Do not buy anything that can’t be used as weapon (just in case). Do not use Teflon. +Why? Because you will let it get dirty and fuck it up and you’ll scratch it and wonder why you didn’t listen.

The best place to get good stuff is at the local Restaurant supply store. The stuff they sell is made to be used and used hard and it’s worth the trip .regardless of the brand and you can get used equipment pretty cheap. The places make the Boutique Kitchen stores in the mall look like a joke. But enough foreplay, here’s what you need.

Pots:

2 QT, 4 QT, and 8 QT. So why do you need three? Cause there’s a real good chance that you’re going to need more than one pot at a time. The 3 sizes give you the range that you need to do smaller things like melted butter to doing larger items like Chili or steamed Crab Legs. Look for Pots with a solid Metal Bottom. Most cooks use Aluminum which is cheap but it does the job. Heavy is good. If you really want to go for the gold, get the strainer insert for the 8QT, trust me, it’s worth it.

Pans:

8 inch and a 10 inch. Same reason. There are going to be times you need some room and there are going to be times that you need to be able to focus. Same thing as with the pots. Heavy is good. Aluminum is cheap but it’s what I’ve used in kitchens for years. I have to say this once again; do not buy it if it has plastic handles. We’re playing with FIRE hear guys, plastic Melts and there’s a lot of stuff that you’re going to put into the oven, still in the pan.

Griddle:

It’s a big flat metal pan that can be good for a whole lot of things where you need surface area like making pancakes. Buy one that’s large enough to cover two burners so that you can adjust the temp (one side on low to hold food, the other on high to cook with). Again, Teflon and plastic are bad. There are two types you can buy, the electric and the stove top. Both work well but having the plug in version makes it easier to cook pancakes while you still have the stove free to make bacon, eggs and whatever else.

Bakeware

No, this is not the shirt you got at your first Dave Matthews show (damn hippies). This is what you BAKE with, as in place in the over. Ok enough sarcasm.

Basic Metal or Glass baking Dish

(9×13 x3) this is your basic brownie pan but it can also be used for everything from eggplant to Salmon. Make sure to spray before you use it so that stuff doesn’t stick.

Sheet Pan

(12×18) it’s what you need to make Cookies and Cinnamon Buns as well and god know what else you can think of. Buy Metal. Get two if you can cause if you’re going to bake….

Mixing Bowls.

Just buy a set since they’re cheep and don’t take up a lot of room, plus at some point you will need more than two or three at a time if you ever plan on cooking for guests.

Hand Tools.

This is the stuff that gets the details done. You can get away with improvisation but I rather use a peeler to peel a Potato then use my knife, I might cut myself, most likely you will. You can scramble eggs with a fork but a Whisk is what’s needed to add the goodness.

Pepper Mill:

Table ground pepper is one of those things that irritate me to no end. DO NOT USE PRE GROUND PEPPER. The entire flavor is in the oils and pre ground has no oil, therefore, no flavor. When you use a Mill, the oils are released and that’s why it packs so much more kick. It’s not just for show but I like having a big one by my side to keep my staff in line.

Potato Peeler

Is used for a whole lot more than Potatoes. Carrots and Parsnips and even block cheese like Romano and Asiago fall prey to the humble peeler.

Tongs-

Cause you’re not going to grab that Steak off the grill with your bear hands. Think about tongs as the burns you won’t endure. Size is up to you but get the metal ones. And by the way, you look like an ass when you spin em around like a six-shooter.

Whisk

Its one of those things you don’t think about till you really need one and then it the best thing ever. BBQ sauce and chocolate and just about anything you really need to blend you need Whisk. Spoons and Forks don’t work. You only need one. Go medium, Not too big and stiff and not to small and flexible. Shape is whatever you’re into. If you need a specialty Whisk your reading the wrong book.

Slotted Metal Spoon

– For everything from Steamed Shrimp to Chocolate Strawberries. It’s a Spoon with holes in it.

Metal Spoon

See above. Mind you I am talking about the large cooking spoons. Is common sense a lost art?

Ladle

So you get excited and go get the stuff to make this amazing soup or chili and after hours of cooking you go to serve it only to realize that you don’t have a proper ladle so you have to use a coffee cup instead. True story, don’t let it happen to you.

Wooden Spoon

It all has to do with a bunch of chemistry that I barely understand but the simple fact is that wood is much more forgiving and it feels better. Trust me on this. Good Risotto, it’s one of those things

Colander:

This is something that you can find at the dollar store and is worth investing in. It’s a bowl with holes in it for draining pasta. Yes, I know the trick about putting a plate on top of the pot and I know several people who have burnt the shit out of them self doing that instead of buying a fucking Colander.

Disposable Spoons:

Want to piss me off? Come on my line and stick your nasty fingers in something I’m working on to taste it. God help your sorry ass. That’s second only to fucking with my Knife. But plastic spoons are kind of like the condoms of the Kitchen (besides the finger covers). They’re cheap and disposable and non reactive. They can be thrown in the Recycle bin so the hippies don’t freak and the best thing is, whatever I’m working on doesn’t taste like ass because someone couldn’t use common sense. Taste everything you’re working on as often as possible, this is the best way to tell what’s really going on with what you’re cooking but use a spoon.

Plastic Spatula:

They’re cheap and come in a variety of sizes so pick up a few. They’re great for most things and can handle heat pretty well but they can still melt so keep an eye on it. The good thing is that like wood, they don’t react with the flavor and they don’t damage foods.

Metal Spatula:

Cause you can’t flip steaks off an open flame with plastic, that’s why.

Clean Bar Rags:

Even when I’m cooking at home, I always have a stash nearby to wipe my hand on, clean the cutting board or grab a pan out of the oven. You can find em at whole sale store and believe it or not, auto supply stores, I’m just talking about basic white hand towels.

A Fire Extinguisher:

Though I’m smiling as I write this, it’s not a joke. Fire is nothing to fuck with and nothing can ruin your day like losing everything you own and possibly your life. Most of you don’t know what you’re doing and having one is like owning a gun, you hope you never have to use it but grateful it’s there.

A First Aid Kit:

My normal advice is to man up and handle it with duct tape but most of you ain’t that tough. At some point you will cut and or burn yourself and you need to just face that fact now and be ready. You can pick up a basic first aid kit at any drugstore and trust me, if you think it needs stitches it.

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