There are no gear testers more rigorous than the commercial chef. Can openers, skillets, thermometers, mixing bowls and all manner of other essential gear are put through the wringer night in, night out. So when chefs talk about the gear they couldn’t cook without, we listen. Here are the kitchen tools five pro chefs can’t get enough of.
Chef Anthony Alaimo
Chef Anthony Alaimo may have gotten his start cooking in New York City, but his skill led him to work in kitchens from Macau — where he earned a Michelin star as chef de cuisine at Ristorante Il Teatro — to Las Vegas. Currently, Alaimo is situated in Los Angeles where he heads the kitchen at 101 North, a New American eatery in Westlake Village. The well-traveled chef’s experiences around the world are reflected in his kitchen essentials, which includes staples such as a Japanese mandoline and an Italian pasta maker.
Benriner Mandoline Slicer
“Benriner’s Japanese mandoline is at the top of my must-have list. This green mandolin that has been torturing the fingertips of chefs for years is a must-have for efficient production. Once you get comfortable with it, this mandolin stays sharp and lasts.”
Imperia Pasta Maker Machine
“Imperia’s pasta machine is a reliable workhorse. The attachments are versatile and are easy to switch out.”
Aritsugu Utility Knife
“This Japanese utility knife from Aritsugu is a must-have! I found this knife 10 years ago at a market in Kyoto, and it has been my go-to knife ever since. Whether it’s cleaning fish, working with meat or slicing vegetables, it’s the most useful knife I have.”
Edlund Kitchen Tongs
“Kitchen tongs by Edlund are the only tongs we use. They last forever and have the best grip.”
Chef Pat LaFrieda
The LaFriedas have been in the New York meat business since 1922. Today, Pat LaFrieda continues the legacy started by his grandfather, becoming one of the country’s most well-known meat purveyors, specializing in dry-aged steaks and burger blends (Pat LaFrieda concocted Shake Shack’s famous burger patty blend). With nationwide distribution, anyone in the 50 states can enjoy provisions from Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyors, now based out of New Jersey. These are the tools that the country’s most famous butcher uses to break down and cook his world-famous beef.
The Otto Wilde Grill
“The Otto Wilde Grill is by far the best grill I’ve ever used. It heats from the overhead broiler to astounding temperatures (1,500 degrees Fahrenheit) that you just can’t get with a normal grill or an oven. That is what gives steak that beautiful sear to trap in those amazing juices. It can be used for anything — fish, poultry, fruit, vegetables — but of course my favorites are the perfect T-bones, ribeyes and porterhouses.”
Victorinox Swiss Army Fibrox Pro Curved Breaking Knife
“Knives are very important in butchery. Maybe the most important tool. I developed my own knife set with Victorinox Swiss Army to give me that perfect slice, and also balance, since I’m so tall. They do resemble small swords, so getting through airport security with them is tricky, but seriously, they are the only knives we use at Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyors.”
GreenPan Levels Non-Stick Ceramic Frying Pans
“At home, I use an induction stove because one, it’s safer for my kids, but also because it heats the pan more evenly than any other type of burner. I love GreenPan because they coat it in Thermolon, a non-toxic ceramic coating to ensure it’s nonstick, but without the toxic chemicals of other nonstick pans. And they can be used on all types of stoves — induction, gas, electric, you name it.”
Gaggenau Range Hood
“When you are a butcher, you cook a lot of meat. Proper ventilation is key so my wife and I installed a Gaggenau hood over the stovetop when we were building our kitchen. The hood captures all types of smells and vapors and is almost undetectable because it is so quiet.”
Chef Jeremy Hansen
James Beard semi-finalist Chef Jeremy Hansen helms the kitchen at Fork in Philadelphia, serving up hyper-local fare prepared with technique developed under the legendary Gray Kunz. His menus are gastronomical incarnations of things are not always as they seem, with dishes that front as standard American fare, but go a step further (think mussels with mole, or A5 Wagyu with persimmon). Hansen is also a gear nut — the chef moonlights as a photographer and filmmaker on top of his day job — and runs a non-profit called 509Cooks, a first-responder organization that deploys chefs to emergency situations and disaster zones to serve up food. From a sturdy pocketknife to a world-famous pepper grinder, these are the things he couldn’t cook without.
The James Brand “The Carter”
“An easy-to-carry-around-for-everything tool. Good for breaking down cardboard boxes, cutting twine, opening up caviar tins, opening up sous vide bags and for any other thing you don’t want to use your chefs knives on.”
“Lightweight and great for emulsifying warm sauces on the fly. It reaches all the edges in a sauce pan and is great for just about everything that needs whisking — like quicker froths, whipped creams and vinaigrettes. Highly recommended for a cooks tool kit.”
“I use this every day as a water filter. Its charged molecules attract impurities like chlorine and lead to make water healthy taste fresh. It’s also eco-friendly. You have to boil it every two weeks and after a few months you can add it to your konro for grilling meats.”
Peugeot Pepper Grinder
“Probably the most used tool on our hot line during service. Freshly cracked peppercorns release volatile oils for fantastic aromatics and is the best way to get the highest medicinal properties from the peppercorn.”
Chef Tyler Akin
Chef Tyler Akin is a Delaware boy at heart. While his culinary career led him to Philadelphia, where Akin is the chef-owner of Res Ipsa and Stock, the chef is making his way back to his native Wilmington. This spring, Akin will be helming the kitchen at Le Cavalier at the Green Room located in the Hotel du Pont, a Wilmington institution.
The chef grew up eating at the Green Room for special occasions, and he aims to preserve some of the establishment’s signature dishes, while reconceptualizing the restaurant into a French brasserie. The influence of the Green Room can be found in the chef’s choice of footwear, an emerald pair of Vans, and his experience throughout the years can be found in his other tools of the trade.
Vans x Hedley & Bennett Reissue UC Emerald Sk8-Hi
“These sneakers are a collaboration between Hedley & Bennett (their aprons are also really great) and Vans. They have treated canvas, which helps repel kitchen spills, increased grip and traction and padded collars, which is helpful when you’re on your feet for a full shift. I picked the emerald color as a nod to our new project, Le Cavalier at the Green Room. The Green Room was an institution in Delaware for over 100 years, so it’s meaningful to be able to give a visual nod to it every day.”
Canon EOS RP Mirrorless Digital Camera
“I love photography, both inside and outside of the kitchen. This model works well under what can sometimes be harsher kitchen lighting and is incredibly helpful when menu planning and visualizing plating for new dishes.”
Bose SoundLink Color II Bluetooth Speaker
“I listen to everything, but really, I’m a rap nerd. Pusha T: best rapper alive, no question. This speaker works well for pumping up our back-of-house team but gives you enough control that the dining room doesn’t need to be exposed to our jam session.”
Williams Sonoma Open Kitchen Bench Scraper
“Hands down my favorite kitchen tool. I use it for portioning dough, shaping pasta, moving knife work into storage containers. At our Southeast Asian restaurants, Stock, we do a ton of knife work — our menu is very veg-forward, so we’re constantly using this tool to move ingredients from our cutting boards into containers without bruising them. This model is really slip-resistant, which is a plus in a fast-paced kitchen.”
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