Tools of the Trade

If you’re wondering how to outfit your kitchen with the most helpful equipment, check out my list of essential kitchen tools.


INformation about entering my contest is at the bottom of this blog!


As a professional chef I get asked a lot of questions about my favorite kitchen tools.  “What knife do you use?” “What’s your favorite cookware?”  “Do you recommend any special gadgets?”  Well, anybody who has seen my tiny kitchen and the amount of stuff I have squeezed into it knows that I LOVE kitchen tools.  I also happen to have a shed that is crammed with all kinds of catering equipment and supplies for parties.  This is one of the many side effects of being a chef and running a food related business.  The fact of the matter is that I have many, many kitchen tools that I love and use and recommend.

Not everybody has the space, money or inclination to invest in a lot of fancy equipment.  But there are definitely items that I consider to be essential kitchen tools so I decided to create a list of my favorites.  While there are a lot of useless gadgets out there, having the right tools can definitely help the process of cooking to be easier, faster, and ultimately give you a better result.  Does that mean your food will be garbage if you don’t buy the right pan?  No, of course not.  It just means that you’ll get the most out of your overall culinary experience if you invest in the right equipment.

First and foremost on my list of essential kitchen tools is a high quality chef’s knife.  If you spend any amount of time in the kitchen at all, you must have a good knife.  Period.  End of story.  Unless you exist solely on delivery, take-out, and prepared food from the grocery store, and you have absolutely no intention of ever even cutting up an apple, a proper knife is a must.  I use a lot of different knives, but am most loyal to the Global brand.  When I was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome I knew that I needed a better knife.  So I traded in my dull, unbalanced culinary school issued knife for an 8-inch chef’s knife from Global.  Many people in the industry do not care for Global as they are very light weight, almost shockingly so.  The standard response I get from industry peers (and some home cooks) when I say I like Global is, “It’s too light, I need a heavy knife to do the work.”  Which is true, a good heavy knife will help you a lot in the kitchen.  But my response to that sentiment is this; when a knife is as sharp as a Global, you don’t need it to be heavy.  And let me tell you, Globals are sharp.  So if you invest in one, PLEASE practice good knife safety.  I have a big scar on my finger that is evidence of the importance of knife safety.

This is my go-to chef’s knife by Global.                                                        Image Source:  Sur La Table













I recommend three types of knives that will basically serve all your basic cooking needs; a chef’s knife, a serrated (bread) knife, and a paring knife.  If you’re a foodie or want to expand your culinary skills then I also recommend a boning knife (one for meat and one for fish if you want), a carving knife, and a santoku or something similar for chopping.

OK, now that I’ve babbled on about knives, here are the rest of my essential kitchen tools.  For those of you who follow the State of Slim program like I do, I’ve made a note on those items that I find particularly helpful.  With all of these items I’ve included a link to the product on the Sur La Table website.  I used to teach cooking classes at their store in Cherry Creek and had the opportunity to use a great deal of the equipment they sell.  I stand by the quality of the products, the wide availability of items made in the USA or Europe, and their knowledgeable customer service.

Elisa’s Essential Kitchen Tools

Swiss Classic Chef’s Knife by Victorinox – If you aren’t ready to spend $100 or more on a chef’s knife I HIGHLY recommend this one.  I have this knife as well and use it on a daily basis.  An 8″ knife will only set you back $40 and it’s also the highest rated chef’s knife according to Cook’s Illustrated magazine.

Sheet Pans by Chicago Metallic

Silpats – These are fantastic for producing perfectly browned baked goods but I use them for anything that I bake or roast on a sheet pan – potatoes, vegetables, meat, cookies, etc. Nothing sticks to these things, I mean NOTHING!  They are great even just to help keep your pans looking nice longer.  This product is absolutely indispensable for the SOS diet as you can cook on them without added oil (or just with cooking spray) and get a nicely browned finished product (think cauliflower tots and sweet potato fries).

Cutting Boards by Epicurean – These are eco-friendly and extremely durable.

Nonstick Pans by Scanpan – I can’t say enough about these wonderful pans. First, they’re made in Denmark and not China, a HUGE plus in my book.  They’re expensive, but with proper use and care they’ll likely be the last nonstick pans you buy. They’re eco-friendly, PFOA free, durable, and allow for superior browning of food.  I have the wok, and the 8″ and 12″ saute pans.  One important note, do not use nonstick cooking spray on these pans as over time the propellant in the spray inhibits the nonstick quality in the pan.  You can saute with a little water or broth if you want to.  I consider them absolutely essential to the SOS program as they are truly nonstick.

Citrus Juicer – Great for SOS

Microplane Zesters – Great for SOS

Vegetable Peeler by Kuhn Rikon – This is the highest rated Y peeler by Cook’s Illustrated magazine.  It’s sharp enough to peel a butternut squash, but therefore it’s also sharp enough to peel your finger so use carefully.  They’re made from carbon steel (NOT stainless) so be sure to wash and dry it by hand after each use.  It will discolor, but proper care will keep it from rusting.

Pepper Mill by Kuhn Rikon – Great for SOS.  I love this mill, my food has never been better peppered!  Freshly ground pepper is WAY better than that dusty stuff in a can.

Cast Iron Skillets by Lodge – Yes, cast iron is very heavy but it’s also extremely durable, affordable, made in the USA, a superior cooking material, and it will be around longer than you will be so you can pass it on to your family. Cast iron gets better and better with time so with continued use it will develop a wonderful nonstick surface. In addition to a 12″ skillet I also have a Dutch Oven.

Instant Read Thermometer

Whisks, Tongs, Silicone Spatulas, and Bamboo Spoons

Look for future posts about more equipment that I recommend!

********************************CONTEST DETAILS*****************************************

If you’d like to win a FREE meal from The Sweet Life Culinary Productions than here is what you need to do:

1)  Like my Facebook page.

2)  In the comments section of THIS POST (click on the bubble at the top of the post), answer one of these questions:  What is your favorite kitchen tool? OR (if you don’t have one) What kitchen tool is at the top of your wish-list?

I’ll pick one comment at random and that person will win a freshly made MEAL FOR FOUR (4).  Here’s the rules:

1)  Contest open only to people who live in the Denver metro area.

2)  Winner must make arrangements with me to pick up their food.  I can meet you somewhere or I may deliver depending on your location.

3)  The winner has TWO WEEKS from the date of notification to claim their prize.

4)  The meal can adhere to any particular diet you follow, including SOS.  When I say “any diet” this means within reason.  If you’re on a strict lobster and caviar diet you may need to give your meal to someone else.

5)  The winner must pick the meal from a list of options that I will provide.

6)  Contest ends at 5:00 p.m. (Denver time) on Wednesday, November 19.  I’ll announce the winner the following day.

29 thoughts on “Tools of the Trade

  1. It is hard to pick just one favorite. One of my favorite kitchen tools is my Silpat silicone baking liner. It makes baking just about anything easier.

  2. My favorite kitchen tool is my Ninja Master Prep blender/food processor. I use it every day to make protein shakes on SOS. Easy to clean, easy to use – love it!

  3. What is my favorite kitchen tool? My mandolin! Great to use for slicing veggies really thin. This week I used it to make parsnip chips as well as zucchini and eggplant lasagna.

  4. I like my chopper for chopping veggies and I like my magic bullet blender (protein shakes are the best!). I use them both for everything!

  5. That is so difficult to pick just one favorite!!! My knives and the crockpot tie for first! Vitamix comes in 2nd.

    My wish tool is a Veggie Spiralizer!

  6. My favorite kitchen tool is my muffin pan. I am able to bake egg white muffins with different types of vegetables. Great for breakfast on the run.

  7. My favorite tool is my nutribullet! I love how I can add my veggies in my shakes and not be bothered by any off taste! I need to get the silpat after reading all the positives about it.

  8. My favorite tool is a knife… but I need a new one and i need to learn how to sharpen my knife (I tend to use the same one regardless of what i am cooking… so perhaps I need knife lessons).

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