This is Chef’s Staples, where professional chefs dish on the gear they couldn’t cook without. This week: Chefs Macks Collins and Bryan Kidwell of Piccalilli in Los Angeles, CA.
Chef-owners of Los Angeles’ Piccalilli Macks Collins and Bryan Kidwell are fine-dining chefs who don’t really like fine dining. They met at New York City’s fanciful now-closed French-Vietnamese restaurant Rogue et Blanc, became best friends, ran a cult-favorite food truck in LA and opened Piccalilli, which is somewhere in between the two. Their gear, however, is laconic. Of the seven items the tandem recommended, none break the $30 mark. From the most underrated kitchen tool there is to tweezers that look pretentious (but aren’t), these are the things Chefs Bryan Kidwell and Macks Collins couldn’t live without.
“This is great for zesting citrus, cinnamon, nutmeg and hard cheese. In fact, it’s one of the most underrated tools in the kitchen. It makes for great visuals on the plate, as well as equal distribution of a garnish on the dish.”
Choice Green-Striped Kitchen Towels
“They’re faster than using pot holders and, overall, just super cheap and easy to clean. Keeping a clean kitchen is super important for both professional chefs and home chefs; keeping it constantly clean with the help of a towel will keep the crumbs, grease, sticky stuff and, most importantly, bugs away.”
Kuhn Rikon Swiss Peeler
“Has an easy grip, is lightweight and is great for professional kitchens; plus, it’s cheap. They’re called speed peelers for a reason; being so lightweight and easy to grip, they enable faster, more efficient even peels.”
Stainless Steel Chef Tweezers
“These are great for all-around cooking in the kitchen. They look pretentious, but once you use them, you will never go back to tongs. A great tool for flipping foods on grills, pans and in the deep fryer, as well as helping incorporate sauces in pastas.”
Fine Chinois Strainer
“This tool is great for smooth purées and for straining very fine foods, stocks and sauces. Fine dining restaurants use them all the time both in front and back of house. Also, finding the perfect ladle to help pass the food through the chinois is a must.”
“A nonstick silicon sheet tray liner is great for baking, sweets, tuiles and anything you don’t want to stick. It can withstand high temperatures, is easy to clean and it’s reusable, so you don’t have to use parchment paper.”
Benriner Japanese Mandolin
“This is lightweight and easy to use, great for even slices and with three widths for julienne. It’s super efficient and saves a lot of time. Beginners do need to practice and take it slow because the blade and teeth for the julienne setting are very sharp, especially with a brand new mandolin. Any professional cook would be lying if they said they haven’t cut themselves using one.”
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