5 Tools Every Cook Should Have

If you’ve spent any time at all in kitchen supply stores or watched any of the scores of television commercials touting the latest and greatest kitchen gadgetry, you may have fallen victim to an advertising ploy that will have you stocking your kitchen with completely unnecessary products that end up gathering dust on your cabinet shelves. It happens to the best of us (and I have the carrot curler and tomato knife to prove it.)

If this sounds familiar, I have a bit of advice – gadgets and appliances, no matter how cleverly marketed, do not make good cooks. A well-stocked kitchen should be chock full of supplies that you’ll use frequently. Here are a few basics to get you started.

1. A Good Chef’s Knife

The workhorse of the kitchen, a high quality chef’s knife won’t make your food taste better, but it will definitely make it easier and faster for you to get food on the table. Check out my previous posts on choosing and using your chef’s knife.

2. Cutting Boards

Cutting boards are probably the most underrated utensil around. Available in a number of materials and sizes, cutting boards protect your knife blades and your countertops. Even when I’m not chopping, I’ll often pull out a cutting board to use as a work surface.

3. Pots and Pans

Buy the best pots and pans you can afford. To start, pick up a large skillet or sauté pan, a large pot for boiling pasta and blanching vegetables and saucepots in various sizes. You can add additional pieces or specialty items (crepe pans and double boilers) as you need them.

4. Tongs

Anyone who’s ever worked in a restaurant kitchen will tell you that stainless steel tongs quickly become an extension of your hand. Tongs make flipping foods a breeze and allow you to add foods to hot pans while remaining at a safe distance. (Click here for more on tongs.)

5. High Heat Spatulas

These spatulas are a forgetful chef’s best friend. They can withstand temperatures often up to 450°F, so if you happen to leave one in your pan after stirring, you don’t have to worry about melted plastic or rubber becoming an unwanted ingredient in your dish.(As a rule, you should try to remember to always remove utensils from hot pots and pans.)


A well-stocked kitchen contains many more utensils than the five included here. This list is simply a springboard for beginning cooks who may not know where to start.

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