Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Cooks Tool Box!!

So a lot of restaurants don’t require a cook to provide his own tools ... such is the case with our hotel. They rent a few sets of knives. Which are re-sharpened  once every few months. I call these the crap knives. They pass thru so many hands that don’t really care about them ... that inevitably they are crap within a few weeks of being re-sharpened. I have always been of the view that you care for something that you paid for. A cook should own his own tools!!
 Now I have went thru four tool boxes since I became a cook. Currently my wife and I own 4 tool boxes. Two at for each of us. Then two spares at home that contain the things we don’t use that often. Now if you wanna start a fight between just have to catch someone going into your toolbox without asking. Some Chefs just refuse to let anyone use anything of theirs...I am not this long as you can borrow it. I try to keep anything that will make my life easier in my box at work. I also try to keep anything that work will not have...or is a heavy use item and starting to wear out. Sharpness is key in this industry...and a hard lesson for a lot of cooks to learn.

  So let’s delve into my box!! It is like a “Tickle Trunk” of wounds and cuts!!  Not everything in my box has a knife guard on it...which keeps prying hands out of it. Let’s start with the box itself. I use a mechanics red steel box. I actually prefer the two or three drawer type...but I was too cheap at the time to spend the extra twenty bucks...and now I suffer as I pull out stuff looking for that one lil thing I need. So if your just starting out...spend the extra twenty!! A note to most cooks-Clean the f@ckin thing once in awhile please!! Your knife may be clean...but once you put it into that treasure chest of food scraps it is no longer sanitized.

Now the tools themselves. This topic can also start scraps between cooks. Global are better than Wustof etc etc. I have always preferred to own German knives. I am becoming a fan of the Shun line of knives though. I keep a lower quality knives for my everyday work...and a high quality set for moments of high end work (where I want everything perfect). There is no miracle knife. It does not matter how much it cost. As long as it feels good in your hand..and is works. Use whatever you are comfortable with .. that goes for price too! I use Yellow Soft Grip Henckels for my everyday work. Wustof, Shun, Victorinox and Forschner’s for my more refined.I have at least six different kinds of paring knives. Specialty knives like crinkle cutters for fruit platters, a birds beak knife for carving fruit, tomato knives and the all important turning knives. Three kinds of of veg peelers (which I replace at least a few times a year)..I am not a fan of ceramic peelers except for peeling baby carrots. 5 boning knives are also in the box...all have a different feel to the blade...some for fish some for meat. One cleaver..which is a cheap purchase in any Chinatown in North America. Three bread knives...two Victorinox and an offset Wustoff.  Three Slicing just for smoked salmon..and two for meats. I also keep two carving forks for functions. Five or six Chef's knives...all with different blades and lengths. The chain mail glove is for when I dont want to have to worry about also helps with speeding up the butchery process. I keep a standard steel and a diamond steel. A sharpening stone is also a must for any cook.

Now for all the gadgets and gizmo’s .... and there are a hell of a lot of them. Most of these don’t get used that often.. but when I need them...they are there...and they make my life alot easier. There are oyster knives, melon ballers, zesters, microplanes, corkscrews, bottle openers, multitools(for when machinery needs a quick fix), boxcutters, cutters of various sizes (for cutting and also for shaping and stacking small items), large piping tips(used for piping mashed potatoes for large plated functions) and several coulis bottle lids that always seem to disappear in a kitchen.

 There are Pastry brushes, offset spatulas, a mandolin with various blades (a must!! Most kitchens have a bad the beige or lime green one you find at specialty Chinese stores), lobster crackers and a seafood spoon/fork, ravioli cutter, calculator, olive pitter (an antique my mom gave me...was made in Canada in 1905), probes(thermometers-candy and meat), A julienne board (which makes for wayyy less cutting), a five gallon bucket opener (due to my lack of large pipes...haha), measuring cups and spoons, Four kinds of ice cream scoops (one for muffins, one for mashed potatoes during a plated, One with its guts removed for de-seeding squash and one for actual ice cream) and  a pastry scraper (metal) for quick clean ups.

 Some of the odd items include:
Sparklers (never know when you aren't going to be able to find candles for that damned pc of Birthday Cake your givin away!)

Apple Corer

A BBQ Lighter ( eventually the pilot lights on the stoves die or get damaged)

A hand held Immersion Blender (kept in my Wife's Tool Box because it doesn't fit in mine)

Lil Spreader knives for buttering bread (when making thousands of sandwiches)

A sauce whisk
A sushi Mat
Metal skewers (used for making fake grill marks on tiny appetizers with a torch)
Wooden skewers (you can never find them when you need them)
A cake comb (for making designs on mashed potatoes)
A bottle of extra strength Tylenol (Oh ya!!)
A bottle of Allergy Medication (I'm allergic to anything that flys)
Burn Gel (Nature of the trade)
Anticoagulant (to stop the Bleeding)
Butterfly Strips (for those moments you dont feel like going to the hospital for a stitch)
Four of those plasic wristbands you see kids wearing ( I use them to hold my cutting board in place)
And one of the most Important items...A LOCK to keep it all hidden from prying eyes and hands.


  1. Wow its amazing designs !
    A steak knife is used for chopping vegetables, as the sharp edge of its blade is capable of delivering the brilliant performance in slicing salad & fruits.
    Ceramic Scissors

  2. I admire your kitchen utensils! I wish to have that. The knife and cutters are great for slicing fruit and veggies! Thanks for sharing this.