Tools of the trade

I want to take this time to let you know a very easy way to fill your home kitchen with professional gear. No, not there! That place is over priced.

The main place to go is Cash & Carry. They have (pretty much) everything that you could want for your kitchen & restaurant. So this is a pretty decent place to go, if you’re looking for some real gear for your home kitchen. They are also great if you happen to have an actual shop or store or restaurant.

Some times your better, department stores will have professional name pieces (Target sells both a lower quality & professional Henckels).

Certainly around the holidays, you can find the more premium versions of these pieces.

A little sales pitch for you. Cambro is the container we use in the kitchen. Why, because you can dump boiling water in it, & shove it in the freezer. As a bonus, they have measurements on the side :}), & you can get lids for them that stay on!. They can be pricey-so keep that in mind. Not crazy, just a bit more than some lower grade stuff. But this stuff will last, like forever in a home setting.

Pyrex is a very good piece as well, but be careful because of the 2007 bust, many places went with a lessor grade glass on this type of cook & kitchen ware. I’d personally either try one of your favorite second hand stores. You really can find stuff there, if you know what to look for. Always be careful putting hot glass onto to cold surface & a cold glass on to a hot surface.

You can use the internet to find some real stuff, but be warned, most of the time it could turn out to be fake crap. Unless you know the person or the piece, I’d go with new retail (mail order).

Of course, you could always snuggle up to a kitchen manager or gm, I suppose.

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I’m not pushing any specific brand really as you don’t need a bunch of fancy things to cook well, but they certainly help! Stick with the basic items, building as you go along. I’d put the most money in the items that you use the most. There are many good home use items. Anchor Hocking, Farberware, & Ecko come to mind. Some pieces are limited in their function, as with anything. It’s your budget, use it wisely.
For me, the list would start out with the knives & cutting boards, & work your way down from there.
My Henckels garlic press matches the other pieces & is wonderful to use, but a simple plastic one works if you only press garlic every now & again.

You’re going to use your knife & cutting board the most. Put as much of your budget in them, as you can. A great 8″ chef’s knife can do wonders for you. I can core an apple with mine, but a paring knife is fine, & you don’t have to hold the blade ;}). Also be sure to have

something to keep the edge in shape (hone). I’d have two 8″ ‘chef’ knives, one 8 or 6″ utility, & a paring knife. Maybe even a ceramic knife. I like my Farberware 5″ freebie. I’d certainly buy some shears. Good ones, not those crappy knock offs that break the moment you cut into a crab shell.

About your cutting board. Probably go with plastic. It’s easy to clean & cleaning is important. Using bleach, on a white cutting board, you pretty much know when it’s clean. Anything that isn’t white, is ‘dirty’.
You probably won’t need to toss it away or resurface it as often as say I would, so you should be fine. As you’ll see in a few photos, I have my favorite pizza peel cutting board. If you look about, you may see a pic of the side I put down on a burner & did some chopping,

flipped it over & set a pan on it as a trivet (that’ll leave a mark). You can’t get away with something like that, with a plastic piece.
Safety tip: Did you know that more cuts in the kitchen happen because of dull blades? It’s true. Because people will force a dull blade, where a sharp one will do it’s job of cutting with out much effort.

While on safety, it wouldn’t hurt to get a cutting glove, at least till you’re skill develops, but, I’ve worked in some restaurants that it was mandatory to have one while doing prep. Seeing they supplied them, & signed the checks, no problem. They also make one heck of a tomato strainer (in a pinch). Also, you can hold 51 jumbo shrimp in one. Just saying.

Measuring cups are the next on my list. If you have a great two cup, with all of the gradients, you’re in fat city. You can do a heck of a lot of cooking with it (when you measure-not everything is measured). Two names come to mind Cambro & Pyrex.

Pans come next. If you have one great, handled pan with a lid, you can pretty much cook anything.
Unless you have a saute’ station, make sure your pan has a flat bottom. You want as much surface on the heat as you can. Professional saute’ pans, are round on the bottom, to fit into the burner they sit on. This works great, when your burners surround the bottom of your pan, & the jets (flames) touch the pan but not so good if your home stove has a glass top.

More on pans. Thickness. The thicker the pan, the longer it will hold heat, also the heavier it will be. Yes, most cooks have forearms like Popeye the sailor man. The rest is a matter of preference. Copper, iron, aluminum, translucent aluminum, whatever. One piece or riveted handle (no grip), & you can toss it in the oven as well.

With the right pan, you can prepare & cook in it, but you my want a couple mixing bowls handy. I prefer stainless steel, because if need be, I can always toss them on a burner (and have many times), & slide them into the freezer just as quickly.
A good set of bowls isn’t going to set you back a whole bunch. I’ve seen some pretty nice ones in certain department stores, actually.

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Around the ‘holidays’ you can really score some great items at decent prices, for the most part. I added some pictures of skillets, & included a cast iron pan. There is a skill in using cast iron, & it takes a good arm too.

Next up on the list is your million dollar tool. The spatula or scraper. Go with silicone high temp, & get two or three sizes. Wide, thin & average is fine. Also in this budget area, I’d look into at least one pair of tongs. Good sturdy ones, &. . . TAKE THAT LOCK OFF! You do not want your tongs to lock when you are pulling a very hot piece out of the oven. Oh yes, if you can’t keep them in your back pocket*, leave them on the handle of the oven (with your towel).
Rounding this list up is a good thermometer. You can opt for a simple Taylor dial ‘biotherm’, or you can get a laser. Whatever you get, learn to use it the right way.

After that, you really don’t need to spend much. A peeler, can opener, grater, & things like this, can be your more cost effective pieces.

Now everything is priced as you like it, that is, if you want to spend 500.00 for a pan that catches your eye, that’s up to you. It will be an heirloom, & nothing wrong with that. It’s not like your pantry chef is going to grab it & bash the crap out of some blocks of ice.
FYI, you know (now) that the bottom/heal of your knife is good as a quick ice chipper? Yep, & you can open the side of a can with it as well.

Also, don’t let your pantry chef smash 30 pounds of garlic with a riveted knife. ‘ Loosens the rivets (you can use your heavy pan to pound rivets back in place though).
*store tongs in your pocket handle in so they fit, front in if you remember to close the first.

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