As we head closer to the holidays, the joy of seeing friends and family (in non-COVID times) is often in conflict with the stress of preparing a great meal.
It doesn't take a professional chef to know that a good recipe is only half the battle in the kitchen. Quality tools make all the difference when preparing a delicious feast. We talked to Olive Well's favorite Chicago chef, Charles Webb, about the kitchen essentials he recommends to everyone this holiday season and year-round.
A good knife doesn't just cut through food with ease to make prep work simple and precise, it can actually reduce the likelihood of injuries. A properly sharp knife made of good strong metal means less work and a more consistent cut. The less work you use with your cutting hand, the less likely you are to slip and hurt yourself! Chef CW recommends the Mac 8-Inch Hollow Chef's Knife for everyday use. We also love the Wüsthof Classic Chef's Knife.
Speaking of slicing and dicing, cutting boards are an obvious purchase, but Charles Webb warns that the flimsy, inexpensive ones (and even the glass boards) "simply do not do the trick." He recommends a solid, sturdy End Grain Chopping Block, built to last with proper care ("Never," he says, "ever put it in the dishwasher!")
Chef CW said it best when he made his blender recommendation: "From smoothies, salsas, sauces, soups, basically anything that starts with an S, we all need to blend and we all want it to be as easy as 1,2,3..." It really is amazing how versatile a good blender can be. Charles recommends the ever-popular NutriBullet. If you want to splurge, or are looking for a blender with a sterling reputation and a lifetime guarantee, we also recommend the professional-grade Vitamix.
A good spatula is another tool Charles describes as "so simple and yet so necessary." Even more than a typical wooden spoon, Chef CW says these OXO Silicon Spatulas are convenient, efficient, and last a lifetime.
Finally, tongs. Now, we know Charles Webb gets excited over just about anything relating to the kitchen. His peppy personality is part of what makes dinners with him so enthralling. But he seemed especially enthusiastic about even the concept of tongs. They're lightweight, easily-stored, and—most importantly—an absolute everyday essential. And we mean every day. Charles recommends a 12-inch Tongs with Nylon Heads to protect both food and pans.
Whether you're cooking for yourself or planning a party of fifty, we're confident these essential tools will get you through anything and wow even the harshest critic. Bon appetit!