Recommendations from our Taste contributors for the at-home chef

Jenn Smurr – Owner, Born & Bread

Wüsthof Ikon Chef’s Knife (featured image)

“Quality over quantity with knives. You’ll find me using the Wüsthof Ikon Chef’s Knife in my home kitchen. For every home cook, understanding what kind of knife you need is just as essential. In kitchen stores, such as Williams-Sonoma, experts will walk you through finding what kind of knife is best for the way you slice and dice. I rock back and forth, making a chef’s knife the right choice for me. For those who are scared of sharp objects, you are statistically less likely to cut yourself on a sharp knife, so don’t forget a knife sharpener.”

The Microplane Zester

“One of the underestimated tools in your kitchen. It zests citrus; grates garlic, ginger, and cheese; brings chocolate to life on top of baked goods; and you can grate in both directions!”

Mixer

“Every town needs great bakers, but don’t count yourself out. Get that mixer and start experimenting! Make a cake, mix bread dough, whip a meringue, and occasionally pass on settling for whipped cream from a can. Mixers are a blessing; be blessed.”

Logan Crumpton – Food Writer, Eat A Duck

Cast-Iron Tortilla Press

“Fresh tortillas are astonishing compared to any version from a run-of-the-mill grocery. What’s more incredible? A great corn tortilla only really requires two ingredients (three, if you include water): masa harina and a tortilla press. Once you become one with the masa and understand the ratio required of corn to water, you will come to terms on how rewarding the process can be. If you opt out of purchasing a griddle, I find a nonstick pan fills the void decently.”

Charcoal Chimney

“You can get a macked-out chimney with lots of attachments (such as GrillGrate) as well as added safety features at Whiskey Bent BBQ Supply, or tour the local hardware store. This BBQ tool is essential for getting coals white hot in an expedited manner, which in turn causes faster meat-in-mouth output.”

KitchenAid Slide-In Range with Baking Drawer 

“This is my favorite advanced home cook stove. My personal choice because I needed something that would allow me to have the space of a large oven with two separate cooking sections. Most double ovens do not have a large capacity in each section, nor do they allow you to open doors independent of one another. With this model, I can roast a chicken in the main compartment and bake off some chocolate pot de cremes in the baking drawer at the same time at two different temps.”

Robyn Wilson – Chef/Entrepreneur

Aluminum Sheet Pan

“I use my sheet pan almost daily for everything from perfectly roasted veggies to toasted nuts.”

 

 

Good Salt

“I use Diamond Crystal kosher salt. It’s less salty than other salts, and it doesn’t clump like regular table salt. I finish dishes with Maldon salt. It adds a perfectly salty crunch.”

 

Kitchen Scale

“Baking is a very precise art. A scale definitely helps with accuracy and consistency in baking. Precision is the key to making great baked goods.”

Benjamin Vickers Baker, Owner of Honeycomb Bread

Hardwood Cutting Board

“Another deceptively simple staple for the home chef’s kitchen. Select a thick cutting board made of hardwood (though bamboo is fine if you spent all your money on your chef’s knife). Avoid plastic and glass! They will destroy the blade of your knife, become dangerously slippery, and house gross germs in the ridges of your cut marks. Thicker boards stay more sanitary and last longer against the merciless cooking of a home chef.”

Spice Grinder

“Season your food, folks! The next time your
recipe calls for ‘one clove of garlic’ or ‘one pinch of salt,’ I want you to laugh in the face of that recipe. Taste as you go, and throw in as much garlic, salt, paprika, cumin, freshly cracked pepper, turmeric, cayenne, basil, oregano, and cilantro as you want. Keep adding until it tastes good!”

Immersion Blender

“When making sauces or soups, we want them to be smooth, creamy, and emulsified. The immersion blender is an inexpensive and simple gadget that saves my hide on almost a daily basis.”

 

Victoria Sgro – Food Writer, A Hint Of Garlic

Cast-Iron Skillet

“Almost anything tastes better when cooked in a cast-iron skillet. The way it retains heat helps give foods a beautiful golden caramelization which enhances flavor. Use it to sear steak, fry fish, or even to make desserts like pineapple upside-down cake!”

 

Ninja Mega Kitchen System

“I use my Ninja for everything. I love the single-serving cups for making smoothies, salad dressings, and sauces. And the food processor is great for making salsas, protein balls, and pizza dough. The blades are sharp, and the base is powerful — it’s well worth the investment.”

 

Cookie Scoop

“Get perfectly uniform chocolate-chip cookies every time, and skip getting your hands dirty. As someone who loves cookies but hates baking, this small but mighty kitchen tool has changed my life.”