This is Chef Staples, where professional chefs dish on the gear they couldn’t cook without. This week: Chef Saul Montiel of Cantina Rooftop
When Saul Montiel moved to the United States from Mexico, he took up a job as a dishwasher in New York City. Between guidance from the chefs he worked with and culinary skills he picked up working at his family's restaurants in Mexico, Montiel found work cooking food instead of washing the plates it came on. After a lucky break at the now-closed Tappo restaurant connected Montiel with James Beard-award winning chef Jody Williams, whom he worked under as sous chef, he's the executive chef at Cantina Rooftop, a Mexican restaurant in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of New York City. Besides cooking at Cantina Rooftop, Montiel reopened his late grandparents' restaurant, La Unica, in Hidalgo, Mexico, and he's made appearances on food and travel shows. From a molcajete to a rubber cutting board, these are Montiel's most essential kitchen tools.
Avantco Rice Cooker
"I would normally use a Caldero, but I would always need to keep any eye on it. I can admit that I’ve burnt my fair share of rice, but with this commercial rice cooker, my worries are a thing of the past. It cooks it perfectly every time."
"It’s a simple tool but it’s the most effective way to make tortillas at home or work in my experience."
NoTrax Cutting Board
"This cutting board is normally used in commercial kitchens, but I personally use it at home. It's antimicrobial, which helps prevent bacterial growth. It also doesn’t dull my knives, and it is made from rubber that won't crack, splinter or peel. It helps prevent the knives from slipping or bouncing."
Imusa Double Burner Griddle
"Most restaurants have a flat grill due to its versatility. I personally have owned this griddle for the same reasons. I can cook pancakes, burgers and even grill tortillas for tacos."
Williams Sonoma Molcajete
"It’s a very helpful tool when making guacamole, blending spices and making sauces."