Tools for the traveling chef
What do you think the most important tool for a chef is? A good and trusty chef knife? A great spatula? Maybe some disposable piping bags?
There are as many answers to this as there are tools available and here I’m going to outline some of my favorite tools for my mobile kitchen kit….
- Serrated knife – Absolute must when it comes to your tool kit! Not only do I use it for bread, but also larger fruit such as melons and pineapple, things with a tougher skin. I also use it for getting sharper and cleaner cuts of tomato.
- Chef knife – The base of a good collection of kitchen tools and a chefs best friend is a good chef knife. I have an 8” santoku knife from Global. I have had this knife for 14 years and it has stories to tell. It has traveled with me to France a number of times, Australia, California, NYC…etc. Good for almost anything in the kitchen.
- Parring knife – Part of my essential kitchen kit is a sharp parring knife. These can come with a regular blade and a serrated blade. I prefer the serrated version because I find it stays sharper longer. Keeping a smaller knife in your arsenal is a great idea just for the small tasks that a larger knife can be a little clumsy at.
- Kitchen shears – A pair of great kitchen scissors can be a super versatile tool to have.Not only does mine have sharp blades on it, but it is also a combination of a flat head screwdriver, a bottle opener and a nut cracker.
- Microplane – I’m seeing this more and more in tool collections. It’s really a handy little thing to have. I have it because it can handle the tasks that a larger grater just wouldn’t be able to do properly. The blades on this little sucker can handle anything from zesting lemons to grating cheese super fine.
- Off-set spatula – Ok, so this is something you would typically find in a cake decorators bag of tricks. I have found this super useful when I’m not baking as well. The angle at which the spatula is set can help when getting into awkward pans to check the underside of meat or help you flip things.
- Small off-set spatula – The baby brother of the larger version can pretty much do the same as its older sibling but takes on the smaller jobs.
- Wooden spoon – A classic to have in any kitchen drawer, the wooden spoon is something that has been a part of the kitchen for years. You can use this for a number of things from stirring stews, to making pate a choux….if you have enough elbow grease you can even cream butter and sugar together for a cake or cookies
- Heat resistant rubber spatula – Heat resistant is a very important part of this one! It can withstand temperatures of up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. The first time you melt a spatula by leaving it on the stove you realize how great these things really are…not that I’ve ever done that of course.
- Fish spatula – Just as the name implies this is a great tool when you are cooking fish. It’s wide so it can handle larger pieces of food when cooking or moving to a serving dish. I also like to use mine for moving cooked omelets to a plate or even serving up lasagna.
- Knife sharpener – I would also recommend a knife steel, however when I’m on the go and traveling to another location I prefer something light and compact. This one is fantastic because it’s easy and convenient and can sharpen serrated knives as well.
- Bowl scrapers – You have no idea how great these little babies are. I also pack several of these into my kitchen kits. They are durable, flexible and the most versatile. I use these to scrape bowls, transfer ingredients from chopping board to pan and sometimes I even cut bread dough with them.
- Piping tips – These are great to have whether in any chefs bag. I tend to keep a star tip, a rounded tip, a smaller rounded tip and a rose petal tip with me. These really come in handy whether your decorating pastries or piping rosettes into deviled eggs.
- Bench scraper – You’ll find that most bread bakers use these to scale out and cut bread dough, however given the opportunity I have used this as a knife to cut soft fruit or vegetables and I constantly use it to clean up my work area to scrape the bits of food into the trash.
- Disposable pastry bags – These aren’t just for pastry people or cake decorators. I have used these to pipe out deviled eggs, make Parisian gnocchi, pipe a ricotta cheese mixture into large shells, etc.
There are a few tools that didn’t make the list of tools I always take with me. They are absolutely useful if you happen to have one.
- Pocket knife – I don’t always have one of these with me when I’m in a kitchen, but it’s super handy on delivery days and anytime you need to break a box down quick.
- Multi-cutter – With 6 sharp wheels on one cutter, this one is like a pizza wheel on steroids. It’s great for marking or making even and consistent cuts.
- Corkscrew – Every so often I do find that I need to open some wine, either to cook with or to deal with the daily grind.
- Vegetable Peeler – Just a handy all-purpose tool to keep around.
Alright, so there is my list of tools that I find that I turn to the most in my hour of need when I’m traveling or in a new kitchen. But as I mentioned this will vary from person to person but these always find their way into my bag of tricks.