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Kitchen Basics: Setting Up a Chef’s Kitchen (Part 2)

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Here’s the second part of my recommendations for setting up a functional chef’s kitchen, and as promised, this time around we’ll look at electric appliances, along with a few of my specific picks and my rationale for selection of a particular item when applicable.  As in the first part of the series, the same disclaimer applies: only buy what makes sense for your particular situation.  In addition to the “must-have” kitchen electrics, I’ll also point out a couple of items you really don’t need.  Here we go:

  • Blender – Most mid-priced models work great; make sure to get one with a tempered glass pitcher, and at least five speeds.
  • Food processor – Regular readers know I used the absolute cheapest processor I could find, and didn’t much care for it.  I no longer have anything to complain about: I’m the proud owner of a KitchenAid® 13-cup monster of a processor, and I absolutely love it!  It does everything but change the oil in my car; in fact, I’m still learning its capabilities.  I’d encourage you not to cheap out on this appliance like I did – and unless you’re building a back yard deck, stay away from the Black and Decker® brand – it doesn’t belong in the kitchen.
  • Stand mixer – Probably the most-used appliance I have – it’s a KitchenAid® Artisan, and should last for generations.  It has great attachments too, although they can be pricey.  I have a meat grinder/pasta maker attachment which works great.
  • Hand mixer – Great for small and/or quick jobs when you don’t want to drag out the big boy…
  • Deep fryer – Just so much easier (and safer) than stovetop deep frying – a digital model controls temp much more accurately, too.  Mine’s a Philips – I don’t think they make ‘em anymore.
  • Countertop oven – The cheapies are known as “toaster ovens” – stay away from those; they’re no bargain.  Once you have a countertop oven, you’ll be surprised at just how often you use it.  Baked potatoes, reheating leftovers, small broiling jobs, heck – I prefer mine to bake my delicious cheesecake!  And you want to know why?  Without getting too scientific, a countertop oven will maintain an even temperature throughout the chamber much better than a cavernous standard oven, because it has a smaller space to heat.  I have a KitchenAid®, but the similar-priced Cuisinart® looks just as good.
  • Slow cooker – Yes, they’re pretty much all the same – I like mine because it will automatically switch from high heat to the low simmer.  I can’t remember what brand it is, and I’m not getting up to look.
  • Electric skillet – A popular wedding gift; so if you’re currently single, I recommend that you get married – you’ll no doubt get one.  It produces wonderful fried chicken.
  • Electric griddle – Almost the same thing as the skillet, but larger, with no sides.  Bacon and eggs, anyone?
  • Electric knife – Slices through anything (including the cord, if you’re not careful – yes, I really did that once… you should’ve seen the sparks fly right before the lights went out!)
  • Bread machine – I almost didn’t include this – I do have one, but honestly, I don’t use mine much.  I prefer using my stand mixer with the dough hook to make bread.  If, however, you feel a little shaky about your bread-making skills, by all means, get one – prices have gotten very reasonable the last few years.

And a couple of “optional” items that I have and like:

  • Deli Slicer – So great for making paper-thin slices of roast beef, or cutting raw meat for Philly cheesesteak.  The brand I have is a 7” Chef’s Choice.
  • Vacuum sealer – My review of this handy item is here.

Finally, here are some things you really don’t need:

  • Rice cooker – Practice cooking rice on the stovetop once or twice – it’s really not hard.
  • Electric can opener – Unless you practically live on canned goods or own a kennel, don’t bother.
  • Popcorn popper – They make this new thing now called “microwave popcorn”… you should really give it a try!

Feel free to disagree all you want with my picks, and heap all the abuse you want on me – I can take it.  And if I managed to create a launching pad for your own kitchen re-do, well, I can take that too.  Till next time…


About azdon

I believe that my unique combination of education, ability and experience would be a real asset to your company, in any capacity that… Wait a minute – this isn’t a résumé, it’s a profile – I’m sorry, I was confused for a moment. In that case, I’ll just say that I live in the beautiful desert Southwest, I’m extremely happily married, I have everything I need and almost everything I want. Is that good enough? And one more thing… I probably wouldn’t be much of an asset to your company.

One response »

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