Just as a mechanic wouldn’t work on a car with nothing but a wrench, and a woodworker couldn’t make a bench with nothing but a table saw, a cook needs multiple tools at their disposal to be able to perform a wide variety of kitchen tasks.
When just starting out, choosing the right tools can be daunting. Sets of cookware and knives can run hundreds of dollars, and if you don’t know what you need, the gadget wall at the kitchen store can be a bit overwhelming.
My rules of thumb when it comes to tools are simple: start with the basics and build up from there. Buy the best quality tools that you can afford and also the best tools for you, because owning the most expensive chef knife in the world means nothing if it is uncomfortable for you to hold.
And keep your eyes open for useful tools to build on the basics. I don’t recommend buying a bunch of tools that are only good for one purpose, but at the same time, I never met a kitchen tool that I didn’t like.
While it might save time to buy a matching set of pots and pans, take the time to make sure to buy the pieces that will work with how you cook, not how the manufacturers think you cook. Regardless of whether you buy a set or a piece here and there, here’s what you should look for in quality cookware.
There is a proliferation of knives out there designed to do very specific tasks, but what every cook really needs are basics that can do many chores. A well-balanced chef knife, a paring knife and a serrated bread knife are kitchen workhorses. Remember, no matter how good or expensive your knives, they are worthless if you don’t keep them honed and sharpened.
Although often considered the “man’s domain by us guys” barbecue and grilling tools are now available to satisfy all tool and gadget lovers. Here, you’ll find guidance on purchasing everything from grills and barbecues to chimney starters to tongs. As with any tools, do your research and buy the best quality that you can, and your barbecue “toys” will last you for years to come.
My wife and I own so many small appliances that we had to renovate our kitchen just to make room for them all! Not every cook will need every small appliance listed here, but do buy the ones that work for the way you cook. If you like pureed soups, buy an excellent blender. If you love braises, a slow cooker might be for you. And if you have a sweet tooth, consider investing in an ice cream maker.
This category covers everything from kitchen necessities like scales and instant read thermometers to admittedly gimmicky but useful one trick ponies like pineapple corers and cherry pitters. If you’re a cook like me, no matter how many gadgets you own, there’s always room for more. And if you’re shopping for a cook, they make the perfect stocking stuffer.