10 Chef Tools You Need in Your Chef Utility Belt: Expert Advice
Just as a soldier needs weapons when they head out to the battlefield, every professional chef needs certain essential tools for whenever they cook food in a professional kitchen. The best chef tools are placed in a utility belt around their waist for easy access when cooking. If you are a new chef, you might be looking for the best chef accessories or chef's essentials to add to your collection. In this article, you will find a list of the top ten essential chef tools for new and advanced chefs.
10 Different Types of Kitchen Tools
Consider this list as you go out shopping for items to avoid overspending on things that may not be priorities:
1. Chef’s Knife
It goes without saying that the first and most important of all the chef essentials is an excellent chef’s knife. You will need a chef’s knife for dicing, slicing, and chopping ingredients during meal preparation. There are different types of chef’s knives in the market. You will most likely need more than one. However, make sure you go for a sturdy knife made of stainless steel. Most professional chefs use European-style knives. These eight-inch knives have thick blades and comfortable handles. Another common option among chef’s knives is Japanese-style sharp knives, which have thinner blades but are usually much sharper than other options. Choose wisely and consider buying an entire knife set instead of just one chef’s knife.
2. Honing Steel
A honing steel is a small but effective piece of chef essentials that goes with the knife. It would be best if you kept it in your utility belt for sharpening your knife whenever necessary. No matter how sharp a knife is, it is bound to lose its edge after repeated use, and one of the chef’s worst enemies is a blunt knife. The best honing steels come in different shapes and sizes. They could be flat, round, or oval and are usually 20 to 40 centimeters long. The rough or abrasive texture of the steel makes it effective for sharpening stainless steel knives, allowing you to maintain your knife’s edge. All you have to do is stroke the blade against the steel repeatedly until you get the desired sharpness.
3. Bench Scraper
Another must have tool for every chef, especially bakers, is a bench scraper. This tool looks like a wide, short knife, and it is also used for cutting like a knife. However, it is primarily used for turning and transferring dough from one point to another. As the name implies, you can use a bench scraper to scrape every piece of dough on a board, ensuring no waste. It is a precision tool used to cut and measure the size of cookies, cheese, biscuits, and other flour-based products. Apart from dough mixing and cutting, bench scrapers can chop veggies into smaller pieces and transfer them from chopping boards to pots or a sheet pan.
4. Wire Whisk
A wire whisk is a cook’s best friend. It is a versatile tool used for whisking everything from eggs to batter. You can even use a wire whisk for sauces or anything else you want to make smooth. There are different types of wire whisks in the market and they are usually made of wood and stainless steel. However, most head chefs prefer the steel whisk as it makes it easier to get an even consistency when mixing. Whisks usually come in sets of three different sizes so you can choose your preferred size depending on the mixture.
5. Kitchen Scale
Accurate measurement can be the difference between a delicious professional meal and a basic home-cooked meal. A chef doesn't have the luxury of eyeballing measurements during large-scale cooking. Buying a kitchen scale ensures cooking precision by allowing you to weigh every ingredient while cooking or baking different recipes. Kitchen scales come in different sizes, so you can find a scale that fits perfectly into your utility belt. There are mechanical scales, balance scales, digital scales, and smart nutrition scales. Most professional chefs go for mechanical or digital scales.
6. Fish Spatula
Some recipes require delicate flipping on the sheet pan. You may need to flip fish, meat, crabs, and other things without breaking or damaging their form. Using a fish spatula is perfect for these situations. They are light, thin, flexible, and fit perfectly into your utility belt. It is also a good idea to have other spatulas for more aggressive tossing and turning. There are scrapping spatulas, spreading spatulas, and turning spatulas for different purposes in the kitchen.
7. Meat Thermometer
The temperature for cooking meat also affects the taste. A regular cook may not care about this, but a professional with a reputation to maintain must consider the temperature when cooking. Using a meat thermometer ensures that you get the best results after cooking. It resembles a regular thermometer but has a sharp end like a needle. When you stab the meat with the needle, it shows you the temperature on the thermometer display. It is one of the best chef accessories for those who handle a lot of meat-based cooking.
Kitchen tongs are great for flipping food. They are designed to help cooks grip and turn different delicacies. You can use it to turn a steak on a grill so the other side can cook, or you can use it to toss a salad to ensure all the ingredients are evenly spread. Having one or two tongs as part of your chef's essentials will make many cooking techniques much easier.
Presentation is just as important, if not more important, than taste in the culinary industry. A mandolin ensures precision in cutting onions, carrots, cabbages, or any other veggies that require even cuts. Beyond helping you get precise cuts, a kitchen mandolin also speeds up meal prep and saves you from the stress of cutting your fresh herbs manually. A single mandolin comes with multiple heads for different shapes of veggies.
10. Cutting Board
Even with a mandolin, you still need a cutting or chopping board. It is one of the most essential and best chef tools you can own. A cutting board is a firm and sturdy surface for cutting meat, veggies, tubers, and other foods. It doesn't just make chopping easier but can also help protect your fingers when you are using a sharp kitchen knife.
Importance of Using the Right Chef Tools
If you want to remain relevant and stand out in the culinary industry, you need to do everything you can to improve your efficiency in the kitchen. Investing in a kitchen utility belt and using the right kitchen tools is one way. They may seem like simple kitchen tools, but they can elevate your cooking from regular to professional if you use them right.
Now you have a list of the best chef tools you should have in your utility belt. The next step is to find a reliable brand and start making purchases. While the ten chef’s accessories above are a great start for those who work in a restaurant, there are many other essential items you can add to the list.