Great chefs work wonders on food, often turning common groceries into delicious works of art. But, doing so requires more than recipes and culinary skills. To whip up fine dishes a professional needs the right equipment and utensils.
Knives are essential in commercial kitchens. A professional's set usually includes at least a chef's knife, a paring knife and a serrated knife. But oyster knives, filleting knives and tournee' knives are also used for special purposes. Chefs keep their knives sharp with metal rods and protect the blades by cutting on wooden and plastic cutting boards. During the preparation stage, they also use items such as kitchen shears, fish scalers, meat mallets and vegetable peelers.
Chefs use a variety of long-handled forks, spoons and tongs while they're cooking. They use strainers to immerse items in hot liquids like stocks and broth or to separate pasta or vegetables from boiling water. Mortars and pestles are used to crush and mix herbs, peppercorn and garlic, and to extract maximum flavor and oils. Chefs also rely on zesters and shark skin graters when working with items such as lemon peels and ginger, which are often added during the latter stages of preparation or as garnish. And they rely on thermometers to ensure meats and seafood are cooked to the right temperature before serving them.
Commercial kitchens are commonly staffed with chefs who specialize in certain types of foods that require regular use of utensils other chefs don't normally need. A pastry chef makes baked goods and desserts and commonly uses sifters, rolling pins, whisks and rubber spatulas. They use apple corers and cherry pitters, pie rings and cake rings, and they decorate with pastry pipes and a variety of tips. Garde mangers specialize in cold food, and use melon ballers for potatoes and cheese, and channel knives for fruits, carrots and cucumbers. And they make their dishes look nice with tools like egg wedgers and butter curlers.
The type of cuisine also determines which utensils are used. Chefs who cook Asian cuisine use bamboo cooking chopsticks, noodle skimmers and cleavers. They use wok spatulas and wok ladles, which have long handles and are specially designed to work with a wok's rounded bottom. And they might use rice napkins, a large piece of mesh-like material, to remove rice without scooping it, and rice paddles to stir, scoop and mold rice before it's served.
- Food Network: Chefs 50 Favorite Kitchen Tools
- Monster: Chef's Blade: Types of Knives
- Online Pastry Training Center: Essential & Recommended Pastry Culinary Arts Tools
- TeacherWeb.com: Garde Manger Basics
- Food Service Warehouse: Asian Utensils: A Guide to Asian Kitchen Tools
- Wai Yee Hong: Chinese Cooking Utensils
- Starchefs.com: Tools of the Trade
- Photo Credit Jon Feingersh/Blend Images/Getty Images
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