The 10 Under-$50 Tools I Bought After Working In a Fancy Restaurant Kitchen

updated Nov 9, 2020
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Credit: Lauren Kolyn

Working in restaurant kitchens is hard and grueling. Make it a kitchen at a fancy restaurant and the standards are oh so high. Everything has to be just right, and if it’s not, you’ll hear about it—from the sous chefs, the chef, and maybe even the diners. I worked the line at a fine-dining establishment for more than a year and learned lots of tips and tricks. I also learned which tools can make or break a dinner service. Even though I no longer work in restaurants, I still use many of these tools. Here’s what I bought for my own personal kitchen after working in the restaurant biz.

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1. Sharpening stone

When you work in fine dining, the single most important thing is to have a sharp knife all the time. (Sous chefs will grab your knife, inspect it, and shame you if your knife isn’t sharp enough!) Even though I don’t sharpen my knives as much as I used to (I seriously used to do it every other day!), it’s nice to know that I can sharpen my knives at home whenever I want because of my whetstone.

Buy: Sharp Pebble Premium Whetstone, $40

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2. Honing steel

Honing your knife is a key component to maintaining knife health in between sharpenings. Why is a sharp knife so darn important? You’ll be less prone to accidents because a sharp blade will ensure that the knife cuts in the direction you need it to. Plus in the event of a slip, a cut from a sharp knife will heal much faster than one from a dull knife. 

Buy: Carbon Steel Knife Sharpening Steel, $11

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3. Fine grater

I reach for my Microplane regularly at home. I use it to zest citrus, grate garlic and ginger, make fluffy clouds of Parmesan cheese, powder-ize nutmeg, and more. 

Buy: Microplane Premium Classic Series Zester, $15

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4. Mandoline

This tool can slice vegetables (even tough root vegetables!) as thin as you need them to be, quickly and consistently. In a restaurant kitchen, we’ll double up on food service gloves to protect our fingers, but at home you can try one of these. While this tool is great for getting gorgeous salads, trust me, you do not want to see what happens if you accidentally run your fingertip across the blade.

Buy: Benriner Super Slicer, $42.70

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5. Sauce Spoons

These spoons are beloved by cooks. They come perforated (slotted) and regular styles and in a couple of sizes. The perforated spoons are great for removing items from oil or soups, and the regular style is great for stirring and saucing. These things are so popular among cooks, I bet they’re the most stolen item in the kitchen. Not like I’m admitting to anything …

Buy: Gray Kunz Sauce Spoon, $22

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6. Fish Spatula

I rarely use any other kind of spatula because my fish spatula is just so versatile. It’s thinner and more flexible than others, making it easier to really get in there, underneath foods.

Buy: Winco Fish Spatula, $7

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7. Pastry Brush

In restaurant kitchens, the pastry brush is used for more than just pastry. At home, I use it to swipe meats with a glaze, brush olive oil onto bread before toasting it, apply an egg wash to dough, seal homemade ravioli, and more.

Buy: Salzone Pastry Brush, $9

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8. Deli Containers

These reusable containers come in 8-, 16-, and 32-ounces and are perfectly stackable. I use them to prep large meals, freeze leftovers, and store dry goods in the pantry, which brings me to my next item …

Buy: Deli Containers with Lids, $19 for 48 containers in various sizes

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9. Masking tape

I cannot express enough just how important it is to label and date your food. As a person who keeps multiple types of stock in my freezer, knowing exactly what’s in the containers and how old they are is really important.  

Buy: 3M Masking Tape, $3

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10. Sharpie

Actually, this might be the most stolen item in the kitchen. It’s what you’ll use to write the food and date on your masking tape.

Buy: Sharpie Permanent Markers, $6

This post originally ran on Kitchn. See it here: The 10 Tools I Bought After Working in a Fancy Restaurant Kitchen