This is Chef’s Staples, where professional chefs dish on the gear they couldn’t cook without. This week: Chef Craig Koketsu of Quality Branded restaurants in New York, NY.
If you’ve been in New York City for more than a week, there’s a good chance you’ve eaten something with Craig Koketsu’s fingerprints on it. The partner and executive chef of the city’s Quality Branded restaurant group develops recipes, techniques and processes for each of its five neighborhood spots (Quality Meats, Park Avenue Summer (Autumn, Winter, Spring), Quality Italian, Quality Eats and Quality Meats). His style is classic with a touch of modern flair and he’s been named one of NYC’s top up-and-coming chefs by both New York Magazine and Esquire. From the benefits of a set of heavy-duty mixing bowls to a really, really big cast-iron skillet, these are the things Chef Craig Koketsu couldn’t live without.
Vollrath Heavy Weight Mixing Bowls
“The curve of and depth of these bowls is perfect. You can mix and whisk aggressively in them and don’t have to worry about spillage. The heavier gauge of the stainless steel also makes for more even heat distribution when you use them as a double boiler to make hollandaise. I have one in almost every size, and since they nest, they don’t take up a lot of space.”
LamsonSharp Slotted Turner
“Hands down my favorite offset spatula. I use it mostly when I’m working the griddle — its sharp edge makes sure that every bit of the golden brown sear stays on the scallop. It’s also the perfect size and ridgidity to fillet Dover sole tableside. Lastly, it’s ideal for cutting and scooping out brownies from the pan.”
Mac Professional Series Bread Slicer
“Deadly sharp, it’s equally adept at slicing through roast beef as it is through a crusty baguette. And it passes the overripe tomato test with flying colors. The long blade also allows you to make longer strokes which result in cleaner slices.”
Field Cast Iron Skillet (No. 12)
“The cooking surface of this incredibly well-made pan is practically non-stick. I also love its straight sides which make for perfectly round parmesan fricos and old-fashioned cornbread. When considering sizing, my advice is to go big, especially since the pan is easy to handle because it’s lighter weight. Also, you can always cook less in a larger pan, but you can’t always cook more in a smaller pan — the 12-inch diameter allows me to cook four medium-sized pancakes at the same time which saves loads of time when I have friends over for brunch.”
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