Anthony Bourdain is nothing if not opinionated. The celebrity chef has shared numerous cooking tips over the years. But he doesn’t want you to think that you need a kitchen full of fancy tools to cook delicious food. In fact, he seems to think that less is more — especially when it comes to overhyped items like knives.
Below, check out the only tools that Bourdain thinks you need in the kitchen — including the one knife that he wouldn’t ever go without.
1. A heavyweight pan
Anthony Bourdain thinks that one of the most useful tools in the kitchen is a heavyweight pan. And he advises strongly against buying one that’s too thin or too lightweight. As he explains in a fan-favorite passage in Kitchen Confidential, he thinks that “A thin bottomed pan is useless for anything. I don’t care if it’s bonded with copper, hand-rubbed by virgins, or made from the same material as the stealth bomber.” He reports that with a thin pan, pasta sticks and sauces burn.
Next: Bourdain recommends this type of sauté pan.
2. A nonstick sauté pan
Another pan you’ll want in your arsenal? A nonstick sauté pan. As with any other pan, Bourdain emphasizes that you want something heavyweight. In fact, he writes in Kitchen Confidential, “A proper sauté pan should cause serious head injury if brought down hard against someone’s skull.” Bourdain even adds, “If you have any doubts about which will dent — the victim’s head or your pan — then throw that pan right in the trash.”
Bourdain characterizes a nonstick sauté pan as “a thing of beauty.” In fact, he advises treating it extremely gently. “Never wash it — simply wipe it clean after each use and don’t use metal in it,” he advises. “Use a wooden spoon or ceramic or nonmetallic spatula to flip or toss whatever you’re cooking in it.”
Next: The chef thinks you should also own this kind of pot.
3. A stock pot
Also in Kitchen Confidential, Bourdain recommends investing in a stock pot. These large pots might seem unnecessary if you usually just cook for one or two people. But they can actually help you out with a lot of tasks in the kitchen. They’re the perfect size for making chicken or vegetable stock, for instance. And they can help you make a big batch of soup or stew.
Next: Bourdain thinks this kind of pan is another useful tool in the kitchen.
4. A saucepan
Another essential on Anthony Bourdain’s list? A good saucepan. With a saucepan, as with other cookware, Bourdain likely favors something heavy and built to last. Invest in a good one — even if you can’t afford a top-of-the-line version — and you’ll likely find it a versatile addition to your kitchen. This deep pan is used for making sauces, of course. But you can also use it for boiling, stewing, and numerous other kitchen tasks.
Next: This is the one knife that Bourdain thinks you need.
5. Chef’s knife
Anthony Bourdain doesn’t believe that you need an entire drawer full of knives. In fact, he says, “Here’s all you will ever need in the knife department: ONE good chefs knife, as large as is comfortable for your hand.” Bourdain recommends the Global G-2 Chef’s knife. He characterizes this indispensable kitchen tool as “a very good Japanese product which has — in addition to its many other fine qualities — the added attraction of looking really cool.”
Plus, Bourdain doesn’t think you need to be an accomplished chef to appreciate this knife as you brush up on your skills in the kitchen. “As a starter chef knife, The Global is pretty good for a first timer,” he explains.
Next: If you want more than one knife, Bourdain recommends this one, too.
6. Boning knife
If you want to equip your kitchen with more than one knife — as most of us do — Bourdain has a few other recommendations. He personally carries a flexible boning knife. (Like his chef’s knife, Bourdain’s comes from Global.) He uses the boning knife both to “fillet the occasional fish” and to trim meat. (However, as he notes, you can go to a butcher to buy your meat and thereby avoid the need to trim your meat at all.)
Next: Bourdain thinks this is another useful tool.
7. Paring knife
Another staple Bourdain has in his kit? A paring knife. He uses it for “the more elaborate carving of vegetables.” He recommends investing in a paring knife if you make fancy cuts when preparing your vegetables.
While a paring knife is a little less versatile than a chef’s knife in a commercial kitchen, it’s still an incredibly useful tool to have on hand. And having multiple kinds of knives — even if Bourdain thinks you really only need one — also enables you to recruit your friends or family members to serve as sous chefs!
Next: This is the last knife that the chef recommends.
8. Offset serrated knife
If you really want to round out your knife drawer, Bourdain also recommends an offset serrated knife. This tool — a basic serrated knife with an ergonomic handle that isn’t flush with the blade — has a lot of uses. Bourdain characterizes it as “a truly cool item which, once used, becomes indispensable.” The offset handle reduces strain on your wrist, and also decreases the chances that you’ll cut yourself.
Next: If you want to plate your food beautifully, Bourdain says you need some of these.
9. Plastic bottles
Bourdain believes that presentation is very important. So he recommends keeping plastic squeeze bottles on hand to precisely apply sauces and dressings when you serve a meal. In fact, Bourdain reports that you can elevate an ordinary dish to restaurant quality by making the food look attractive.
You can use plastic bottles to apply sweet or savory sauces. And if you really want to make things look fancy, you can use your plastic bottles to apply lines or rings of sauces to a plate before you add the food.
Next: He also recommends these tools for gorgeously presented food.
10. Metal rings
Another useful tool that you can use to make your food look as beautiful as possible? A set of metal rings. Bourdain characterizes these plating tools as “the backbone of pretentious food presentation.” But he recommends them nonetheless.
You can use them to create beautifully presented salads or vegetable dishes. Just spoon the food inside the ring, slip off the ring, and you’ll have a beautiful, restaurant-style presentation. You can also use the rings to make pancakes or fried eggs, or even to prepare cookies or scones.
Next: Bourdain thinks you also need one of these.
11. Pastry bag
Here’s another tool you can to present your food beautifully: A pastry bag. You can even use it to pipe food into the metal rings.
And pastry bags aren’t just for sweets. A few savory foods that can go in a pastry bag include mashed potatoes, the filling for deviled eggs, and even whipped butter. Of course, having a pastry bag on hand will also open up new possibilities when you want to bake desserts, too!
Next: He thinks this tool makes another valuable addition to your kitchen.
Another surprisingly useful tool that Anthony Bourdain thinks you should have in your kitchen? A mandoline. In Kitchen Confidential, Bourdain writes that the utility of this item quickly becomes apparent when you look at vegetables cut with one. “You didn’t think they actually cut those with a knife did you?” This vertically held slicer helps you make perfectly and uniformly julienned and batonnet-cut veggies, without laboring over a knife.
Next: Here’s a kitchen tool Bourdain thinks you can do without.
13. You don’t need a garlic press
It wouldn’t be a feature about Anthony Bourdain without a short list of kitchen tools the chef hates. First up on that list? A garlic press. He advises readers of Kitchen Confidential cooking with garlic, “Don’t put it through a press. I don’t know what that junk is that squeezes out the end of those things, but it ain’t garlic.”
Next: He also recommends against investing in this pricey item.
14. You don’t need a fancy set of knives
Though Anthony Bourdain is all about having the right knives in the kitchen, he doesn’t think that you need the kind of knives that are sold in sets. According to Business Insider, Bourdain explains:
No con foisted on the general public is so atrocious, so wrongheaded, or so widely believed as the one that tells you you need a full set of specialized cutlery in various sizes. I wish sometimes I could go through the kitchens of amateur cooks everywhere just throwing knives out from their drawers — all those medium-size ‘utility’ knives, those useless serrated things you see advertised on TV, all that hard-to-sharpen stainless steel garbage, those ineptly designed slicers — not one of the damn things could cut a tomato.
Next: Bourdain would probably hate this item you may already have in your kitchen.
15. You don’t need a French press
Okay, so Anthony Bourdain hasn’t specifically commented on the French press (to the best of our knowledge). But he’s had some pretty strong words for fancy coffee. And we’re willing to bet that he doesn’t think you need a French press on your counter. He tells Bon Appétit:
There are few things I care about less than coffee. I have two big cups every morning: light and sweet, preferably in cardboard cup. Any bodega will do. I don’t want to wait for my coffee. I don’t want some man-bun, Mumford and Son motherf*cker to get it for me. I like good coffee but I don’t want to wait for it, and I don’t want it with the cast of Friends. It’s a beverage; it’s not a lifestyle.
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