Arming the Kitchen

One thing that I have noticed in my time as a personal chef is the number of gadgets people seem to need to put in their kitchen. I am not condemning the idea of buying kitchen tools but simply those that are made for a singular purpose, in the end you simply wind up wasting money on buying two things when you could easy pay for one.

One gadget that always comes to mind is the infamous garlic press, essentially a nut cracker-like device that pushes a clove of garlic through a small grate and considers this to pass for  mincing. I have heard the advocates say that is saves time for when you are in a rush and you do not have time to mince by hand, though this may be true you will find yourself having to clean out the tiny little grate and hinge so as to avoid sticking and build up of bacteria. All I see is meticulous cleaning for a singular and tiny payoff.

If you need to select a tool that will make garlic mincing that much easier than look no further than a micro plane, I have used mine for zesting, shredding cheese, grinding spices, mincing garlic, and shaving chocolate. A truly multipurpose tool that no kitchen should be without.

One of the most commonly used gadgets that have become overly specialized are knives. If there is a certain cutting job that needs to be done there is a knife that has been hand crafted and specially engineered to do exactly that one job for a obscene amount of money when there are one of three that can do them all. Honestly, is there any reason why someone would need a “vegetable knife”, a knife specifically made to deal with the extremely complicated job of cut vegetables?

having worked in the industry for almost 2/3 of my life I can tell you the main knifes you will need are:

– The Chef’s Knife: the cornerstone of any knife set, it is the work horse of knifes and the most commonly used. the majority of all cutting tasks can be done with this knife, though some may argue that there is a need for a paring knife and a chef’s knife may seem too bulky, simply remember “you can do a little job with a big knife but you can’t do a big job with a little knife”.

– The Fillet Knife: If the chef’s knife is the muscle than the fillet knife is the finesse, when kept sharp enough I have found this knife to be almost as versatile as the chef’s knife, though I may not be filleting a fish everyday, I still can use it for removing the rind from the zest of an orange or lemon, separating the ribs off of peppers or performing a task meant for a finer pointed knife that my chef’s knife cannot perform. I like this knife because, as long as the recipe doesn’t call for chopping I could probably get it done with just the fillet knife.

– The Serrated Knife: For when slicing won’t work you can always make use of a saw, bread slicing, cutting bones, cutting hard cheeses and anything else you don’t want to dull your knife by cutting. The only advice that I would give about purchasing the right knife is this, never by a flexible serrated knife leave that characteristic for the fillet knife. A flimsy serrated knife never cuts in a straight line.

The main idea that I am trying to get across, unless you have an abundance of money that you can throw away on useless gadgets and have an enormous kitchen to fill up with said gadgets, you want to choose tools that you can get the most use and value out of them while conserving space and overall time.

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2 thoughts on “Arming the Kitchen

  1. Hey there Chef Jorge! I was shopping this weekend and ran into a slight problem while shopping for knives. I wasn’t sure what brands were more reliable than others – mostly due to the fact that there was quite a cost difference for a number of options I looked at. Let me know what you think please! I appreciate it.

    • Right off the bat I would have to go with Global, they are a bit on the higher end of quality knives but you get exactly what you pay for, and Global will ensure your knife and replace it if it breaks. Wüsthof is always a good brand, they are designed to keep their edges and if they break or chip, like Global, Wüsthof will actually replace it for free. Calphalon also makes good quality knives and won’t break the bank. Just bare in mind what kind of use you will be putting the knife through, if you are going to be using it as part of your profession, I would spend the money on a good quality knife but if it is for the home then I would be hesitant towards spending more that $40 on a knife that I may or may not use once every week. My knife bag is made up of mainly Wüsthof and Global knives. One thing I would recommend if you are serious about looking for a quality knife, go to the retail stores and hold the knives, remember each knife feels different and some have different handle styles, then pick out the one you like then you can probably find it online for cheaper. If there were a brand of knives I would avoid, it would be any that are above $120 (it is robbery!!), as well as any that have all plastic handles.

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