Kitchen Essentials - The Basics; part 1

As a professional cook I get very specific about what tools I have in the kitchen.
The fewer the better, and they all have to have serve a function that makes cooking easier and more efficient-- none of those one purpose gadgets or extra fancy space wasters.

The picture above is a collection of my essential kitchen must haves. Nothing is all that expensive and by only having what is pictured, you will clear up space in your drawers and have an easier time cooking. Good quality tools mean they will last a long time.

The Basics: (clockwise from right to left)
  • Chef's knife-- Invaluable knife that every home cook should have. This is the number one tool I use and rarely share with anyone in the house. Able to perform nearly any knife task such as chopping, boning, peeling. I actually have two 8" and one 10" for various tasks. *MAC 8.5" Chef's Knife, $60
  • Honing Steel-- Keep those knives sharp! *Shun Sharpening Steel, $40
  • Bread Knife-- The only serrated knife you need. Good for not only bread but squash and shaving chocolate. *J.A. Henckels Bread Knife, $12
  • Wood Spoon-- I prefer wood spoons. If that's what grandma used, that's what I shall use. *Joyce Chen Bamboo Spoon, $6
  • Whisk-- The only tool in my kitchen that only has one specific purpose, but also a tool I would never give up. *Norpro Set of 3 Whisks, $15
  • Spatula-- Good for stirring and scraping. One piece silicon styles are great.
  • Tongs-- Invaluable to turn food, grab hot items, great when grilling. My number 2 utensil after my chef's knife. *OXO Locking Tongs, $10
  • Mortar and Pestle-- I use this for grinding pepper, spices, herbs, salt, making guacamole, or anything that needs to be crushed. Once you get the hang of it, it is faster than an herb grinder or pepper mill, and easier to clean. *Marble Mortar and Pestle, $15
  • Meat Thermometer-- Stop guessing about when cooking meat is done. Get exactly the temperature you want. *Thermometer, $5
  • Paring Knife-- I rarely use this knife but there are certain jobs that my chef's knife can't perform well, such as hulling strawberries. *Kyocera 4.5" Ceramic Utility Knife, $30

Do you have any kitchen items you can't live without? Share them in the comments below.
I will be sharing more basics later in the week with a list of pots, pans and larger utensils.

David Gobeli is a contributing writer for FOLK and has been a cook in fine dining restaurants for the last 7 years in Madison, WI and Columbus, OH. His favorite meals are simple and easy to make, and bring family and friends together around the table. He is also the designer and proprietor for BasilicusJones, a company that specializes in re-purposed home accessories. You can contact him at or


  1. My absolute favorite (along with your picks) is a flat whisk. It works so well in a pan on the stovetop. I have 2 different sizes and would not be without them. Love this thread.....

  2. If I had to add anything, it might be my hand blender. It might be a little "gadgety," but it's just too good at what it does for me to give it up. I even use it to froth milk from time to time.

    Otherwise, it looks like you've just about nailed it with your list.

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