6 Chef Tools To Add To Your Kitchen

Guess how many months I've worked in the restaurant business? Seven. Already! It's weird to think that seven months ago I stood in front of a three-compartment sink without the faintest idea of how to work the drains, isn't it? Y'all, I still have so much to learn but I've come a distance since July. One thing I've become increasingly confident about is this growing list of professional tools that I've discovered I don't want to be without in my kitchen at home.
Most of these things aren't very expensive, and some of them aren't very obvious. But each of them, in their own way, has enhanced my productivity or skill in the kitchen. I hope you'll look into getting them for yourself. Each item I'm sharing is something I now own, or plan to own very soon because I sincerely love to use them in the restaurant and actually believe they're valuable. Not multi-level marketing kind of valuable ("This product changed my life!") but valuable in the way of "I personally use this and think it could help you as well." I'm linking to most of the exact items to save you the trouble of having to search for them yourself. Now....if you're all comfy and stocked up with a box of Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups (heck yes), let's get started!

#1: Joyce Chen kitchen scissors - These are my favorite scissors in life. Before having access to this pair of scissors I just didn't understand why anyone would have a pair of scissors dedicated to the kitchen. It seemed weird to me. But here's the thing: you can cut literally anything with these. We use them for everything from snipping tape and butcher's twine to slicing into cardboard boxes, cutting legs off lobsters, cutting designs into bread-loaves, cutting parchment paper, snipping tops off carrots, herbs from stems, leaves from radishes....the list goes on and on and on and you need to get a pair. No pun intended.

#2: Microplane - this is the tool I want to marry. It's the tool that allows you to get the finest shreds of citrus zest, or snowy Parmesan. I use it to grate garlic instead of crush it, grate ginger, chocolate, nutmegs and other spices. It's one of those tools that is absolutely necessary to certain jobs, and I adore having (a purple) one of my own at home. The microplane "holes" are smaller than the smallest "shredder" holes on a typical cheese shredder, but larger than those awful little citrus zester punctures that do nothing but get jammed up. I can't say enough about how much I love microplanes. Trust me on this one.

#3: mandoline
- okay, I'll be the first to admit that when I started at the restaurant, I really didn't understand why a home cook would need to own a mandoline. Furthermore, the wickedly-sharp blade seemed like a better way to lose a fingertip than slice a squash, as many people will attest. But once I finally used the thing myself, I began to realize that it is actually a great asset for anyone who wants to take their cooking game up a notch. Because I don't yet own a mandoline myself, I smuggled some beets into the kitchen at work to slice before I clocked in, because the ability to get those paper-thin slices opens up an entirely new world of flavor and ability. Shave beets, carrots, squashes, zucchini, potatoes, apples, and more. It's just the best. And yes, scary-sharp. My favorite thing to do with it these days is shave the tiniest little slices of radish for topping avocado toast and family meal tacossssss. The best.

#4: a sharp knife
we knew this one was coming, but I'm not even talking about a big old honking chef knife here. I know that those are a bigger investment than some people are ready to make, and although I have a lot to say to convince you that you need a sharp chef's knife in your kitchen, I started with a tiny, lightning-sharp paring knife which I truthfully use more often than any other knife in the kitchen. The one above is the paring knife I swear by. My chef now swears by it too and borrows it ceaselessly from me, which I think is sheer luck on my part since I bought it solely because it's pretty and German-made (***much like my taste in men***)

#5: Maldon salt - this one is cheaper than any of the other things on this list, but like we talked about in that recent post on salt, Maldon is the queen freakin' bee. I add it as a finishing touch to nearly everything these days, keeping it in a tiny Le Creuset crock on my bar (incidentally the only Le Creuset thing I can afford to own). The flakes are pyramid-shaped which causes them to be much less salty than most salt, and they crisp and crackle and provide the most unexpected finishing touch. I lurve it. And I'm trying really hard not to drop $10 on a set of 3 pinch-tins full of the stuff...because I would 100% stash it in my purse.

#6: kitchen tape - I don't know why restaurants are the only place in the entire world where the contents of a fridge are (mostly) properly labeled. Do you know how much less food we would waste if we actually had a label with the contents of a given container, and the date of when we added it to the fridge? At a glance it is easy to see exactly what you have in the fridge, or locate a particular ingredient, or check on how long it has been there. It makes so much sense to me. And now whenever I am home and searching in my own fridge for things, I rue the day I learned about all that organization could be. Because confession: I still don't own tape of my own. Shannon does. When we ran out of tape last week, she brought in a lime green roll of her own.
"You have kitchen tape at home?"
She looked at me like I was crazy. "Duh," she said. "Because I like things labeled!" and tossed it onto the freezer for group use. I can't say I blame her.

And there it is, fam: the six chef tools we should all be keeping in our kitchens. I promise that any of them (or all of them!) will improve your experience, smooth out the hours you spend in your own kitchen, and generally serve to inspire you. There seriously is nothing like having the right tool for the job, and these are among the best I can recommend. Happy cooking!


  1. Awesome! Love everything and all your little insights for each items use.😍 #1 scissors...lifechanger! Haha! We have a great pair of scissors but I don't know if we could cut through lobster or not. 😂😉 And I suddenly feel as if my little microplane doesn't get enough attention (I only use it for lemon zest). 😢

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