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What's in your toolkit?


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The favorite cutlery thread got me thinking about what's in a professional chef's toolkit. Chefs use the term toolkit to refer to their personal knives and gadgets, as opposed to the things the restaurant owns and lets the staff use. I believe Malawry listed the contents of the toolkit that the cooking school required each student to have, so maybe she'll post a photo here.

As a home cook, I don't have a toolkit per se because I don't travel to cook. My stuff is in drawers, cabinets, and elsewhere scattered around the house. It occurs to me, though, that if I were to assemble everything in my inventory I'd learn that I have too many non-essential items while I actually lack a few essential ones.

Anyway, here's a photo of a real professional chef's toolkit, taken at my house one day when he came over to cook dinner:

toolkit.jpg

Obviously, this guy is not a pastry chef.

What's in your toolkit, be it a real toolkit or a theoretical one?

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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That looks like a good kit.

Three sharpening stones seems a bit excessive though.

Mines pretty similar but without the stones and only one set of scissors.

I don't usually carry around stuff like spoons, b/c restaurants have them, but if you were going to someones house...

My basic list is:

20cm cooks knife

long salmon/ham knife

serrated knife

boning knife

sandwich knife

paring/ turning knife

cleaver

steel

peeler

by far the most used one is the cooks knife, which I can fillet, bone and peel with if necessary.

How sad; a house full of condiments and no food.

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I'd say its a bowl scraper....for getting every last bit out.

and i forgot the little tool that looks like the peeler in the photo, but has little blades on it for cutting strips..i like it a lot, but will make your thumb base look like you went 3 rounds with Bruce Lee if you get careless

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10" French knife

2 razor sharp paring knives

3 serrated paring knives

large serrated knife

planer zester

small handheld zester

peeler

3 sizes of melon ballers

2 whisks

50 ml ladel

wooden spoon

large kitchen spoon

3 flexible bowl scrapers

1 metal bench scraper

disposable plastic pastry bags

1 small pastry bag

3 large pastry bags

10 round piping tips (graduated size)

10 star piping tips (graduated)

assorted tiny piping tips for decorative work

parchment triangles and cornets

Xacto knife and extra blades

Craft shop extruder and set of plates for various shapes

Round cutter set

Scalloped round cutter set

microcutter set

Wand mixer

Paint brushes

Rubber tipped brushes

Sharpie

candy thermometer

digital meat thermometer (never used in meat)

wine opener

digital scale & batteries

various rubber spatulas

2 half sheet silpats

plain plastic sheeting

gloves

ice pick

small wax carving tools

various other amusing things depending on the project

I also normally carry

modelling chocolate

chocolate

sugar paste

my digital camera

edible food color powders

As you can see, I use a large tool box

Oops, forgot some stuff

swiss army knife

large offset spatula

small offset spatula

straight metal spatula

slotted spoon thing

fine strainer

tea strainer

digital clock

lemon reamer

marzipan tools

extension cord

refractometer

12 tartlet molds

gelatine sheets

vanilla beans

ruler

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Wow. That's some list. No question you're a pastry chef!

Let me re-post my image with numbers, to facilitate the discussion. Anybody else have a photo to post?

toolkitnumbered.jpg

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Theoretical one. 10" cook's knife, paring knife, boning and/or fillet knife, carving knife, steel, spatula, scraper, meat fork, tongs, large and small spoon, ladle, can opener?.

For sure the pepper mill and maybe some salt.

Can't imagine the need for stones.

Then once there, remember all the other things you should have brought. I like to travel light. :smile:

Edit: Brush for cleaning roots. Good thread FG. Gets you to thinking.

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I too would love to travel light alas, that is rarely possible. For instance going to the national pastry competition last year we shipped a ton of equipment plus each carried two large suitcases and carry on bags.

The pastry championship represents the absolute worst case scenario in terms of tools. Because you need to demonstrate skills in all areas: chocolate, sugar, petit fours, entremet, frozen desserts, bon bons, and plated desserts you have to bring just about everything AND the cabinetry to put it in.

Sugar equipment would include sugar lamp, sugar warmer, torch, denatured alcohol, sugar pump, neoprene mats, large silpats, spray oil, sugar gloves, scissors, sugar cabinet, cardboard, foam core board, wood, freezer spray, colors... sugar

sandpaper, airbrush, airbrush colors, air pump, pointy things, silicone leaf presses

Chocolate: molds, caramel bars, scrapers, chocolate, chocolate colors, a guitar (to cut chocolates or pralines, cocoa butter, stuff for fillings... rubber spatulas, silpats, plastic sheets, paint brushes. They provided chocolate warmers

Bowls, lots of bowls, plastic wrap

molds, cake rings, plus everything listed above.

Fortunately most of the time you don't have to bring all that stuff with you places. But you can rarely count on being able to get most of the small tool you need at off site locations so... it is an exercise in planning and packing.

Many times when we travel, we have done some things in advance so we need to be very careful about temperature and handling. I always like coming home best. Always lighter.

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I don't understand the difference between knife 16 & 17.  Look very similar to me - what the benefit of having both?

Also - no sieves?

Both are "French knives" aka Chef knives: 16 is of French manufacture, maybe Sabatier? 17 is German. The difference is (obviously) in the curvature of the blades. Both will chop anything you want; I prefer German design for the easier rocking motion.

Stones: coarse, medium, and fine? This guy must REALLY care about his edges!

As for the sieves, my guess is that he doesn't feel the need to carry any because 1. they're bulky; 2. most likely, wherever he's going will have one; 3. you can get along without one: you can drain pots without one, and you can improvise a strainer for liquids with a cloth napkin.

The one item I can't figure out is #26 -- looks like an IUD :huh: And of course #1 is THE most important: the opener for the post-service beer. :biggrin:

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BLH, probably in an academically derived toolkit you wouldn't have both 16 and 17, but experienced cooks tend to personalize their toolkits. Given that the chef's knife is the most heavily utilized knife in most any non-pastry-chef chef's toolkit, I'm actually surprised more don't double up on that piece of equipment. Same for paring knives. So in this toolkit you see two chef's knives and two parers. In both cases, a new one replaced an old one but the old one stayed as backup and can also be used for edge-abusive tasks like on-the-fly butchering and such.

Regarding the IUD, there will be special recognition for the first person to identify the device correctly.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Regarding the IUD, looks more like a piece of a spring, but I have no idea why one would want that in a kit.

My Kit:

12" & 8" Chef's knives

12" Grantin edge slicer

12" Sashimi slicer

10" Serrated

8" curved boning knife

6" flexible utility

4" deba

4" paring

2 zesters

fish spatula

melon baller

sommelier

diamond steel

ceramic steel

Japanese mandolin and spare blades

silpat

needle nose pliers

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Item 26 looks to me like a circular mold, as for making stacked foods or cutting rounds of pasta, that type of thing.

Another good reason for having two chef's knives: it's the one I'm most likely to need a duplicate of if somebody else shows up who can help me. :biggrin:

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Item 26 looks to me like a circular mold, as for making stacked foods or cutting rounds of pasta, that type of thing.

Another good reason for having two chef's knives: it's the one I'm most likely to need a duplicate of if somebody else shows up who can help me.  :biggrin:

Yeah, from the photo, I also go with ring mold

Nick

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:biggrin::wacko::biggrin:

Just kidding. The result of a rained out weekend....

The essentials for me are a 14" chef's knife, 6" chef's knife, 4" paring knife, small, large and balloon whisks, 1/2 and 1/4 cup ladles, set of measuring spoons and cups, zester, peeler, serrated bread knife, 16" smoked salmon/ham slicer, diamond steel, large fish spatula, heavy steel griddle spatula, long and short tongs.

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