Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge shares his tips for investment gadgets to take you from amateur home cook to budding professional chef.
Chefs like Tom Kerridge often have a lot of expensive kit in their arsenal, but beyond the professional kitchen, budget and space restraints mean we can’t buy every last gadget and gizmo. So what should you be investing in? We asked Tom to share the first nine things every budding chef should buy.
Tom Kerridge’s favourite nine pieces of kitchen kit…
1. Digital probe
A digital probe is used for gauging the internal temperature of meat and is important for checking when food is cooked. A probe is great for testing meats like rare beef, roast chicken or sausages on a barbecue. But it’s also good for foods like custard tarts – anything where you need an exact temperature. You don’t necessarily need to spend lots of money, you just need one that you’re going to keep clean, neat and tidy. Always sanitise it – you don’t want to be sticking it into raw meat then into an egg custard tart!
2. Good knives
Spend money on these. Go for nice knives you can keep sharp easily. Professional chefs have lots of different kinds of knives, but as a home cook I’d say you need one cook's knife, one small paring knife, a serrated knife and a slightly flexible filleting knife you can use for both meat and fish. I’d probably spend between £200 and £250 on four very nice knives as they’ll last you a lifetime.
3. Highly conductive pans
I’d invest in these as they help to cook things evenly – they absorb heat very quickly and distribute it throughout the pan. We’re talking pans across the board, from frying pans to saucepans, and although they’re expensive, they’re worth it. These types of pans are useful whether you’re cooking on induction, electric, halogen or gas, and as soon as the pan reaches the correct heat you don’t need to raise the temperature any higher, meaning in the long term you might even save money on bills!
4. A fine sieve
Go for an extra fine sieve for making sauces and purées. It’ll help when you're making anything where you need to push out any bits – the process makes liquids smoother, crisper and clearer. In terms of washing sieves, I’d push it upside down so you’re pushing everything back through it, plus use cold water first as hot water actually cooks any solids onto the sieve.
5. Good sturdy baking trays
Go for metal baking trays of a high quality – some versions you put into the oven and they warp and buckle, and while that’s fine if you’re making cheap oven chips, it’s no good for baking biscuits and such. A lot of domestic trays can be quite flimsy, so it takes a bit of hunting.
6. A good fridge
Buy the biggest fridge you can get and don’t consider it a fashion statement or status symbol. The reason you want a big fridge is for aeration – if you pack everything into a small fridge, the shelf life will be less as the air circulation doesn’t work as well. A big fridge with less stuff in will mean everything in it will last longer.
7. A good chopping board
Wood always looks good aesthetically, and you want a board that's nice and thick and also big enough so you can chop lots of things at the same time. A thin, tiny plastic board isn’t that great to use.
8. A food processor
Food processors come with so many attachments now, but make sure you spend a bit of money on one from a reputable company. It’ll last longer.
9. Flavour-enhancing oils
They aren't necessary gadgets, but flavour-enhancing oils are a good investment. There are currently some great products on the market – a lot of flavour-enhancing natural oils that have traditionally been used in commercial kitchens can now be found in supermarkets. They add a lot of flavour but they’re totally natural.
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Do you agree with Tom’s choices? What was the first piece of kitchen equipment you bought?