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Kitchen Gear

A Top Chef’s Toolkit

Working in a professional kitchen requires not only the right skills but also the right equipment. From a versatile utility knife to her beloved molcajete, here are Top Chef Nyesha Arrington’s fave tools no home cook should be without.

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Nyesha Arrington

Los Angeles, California

In her own words, Chef Nyesha Arrington cooks “food that hugs the soul.” Born and raised in Southern California, Arrington says her passion was shaped early. She spent her childhood cooking alongside her Korean grandmother, whose cultural concoctions inspire Arrington’s creations to this day. Combining her heritage with global cuisine and an education in the culinary arts, this pro chef brings vibrancy and uniqueness to fine dining.

Immersion Blender

Cuisinart EvolutionX Cordless Rechargeable Hand Blender | $80

An immersion blender is a game changer in the kitchen and definitely worth the investment. Anytime I need to buzz up a soup or sauce, I drop it in and blend away to a smooth paradise of richness, right in the pot. It doesn’t take up any counter space, and it now comes in cordless versions, which means no more “cord in sauce” accidents.

Dutch Oven

Le Creuset 5.5 Quart Dutch Oven | $370

If you do not have a Dutch oven, please go out and purchase this quintessential chef’s tool. (I also recommend a trivet as a must-have to protect your surfaces from the heat of your baking vessel.) What’s special about these cast iron beauties is that they can be passed down through generations. Plus they’re versatile, going seamlessly from stove top to oven.

Serrated Utility Knife

Victorinox Swiss Classic Serrated Knife | $8

There are three basic knives everyone should have at least one of: A chef’s knife, a paring knife and a serrated knife. But when it comes to versatility, a serrated utility knife does it all. Whether it’s cutting string to truss a chicken, segmenting an orange or cutting even slices of garlic bread, you will reach for this knife more than any other (trust a Top Chef!). It’s handy, inexpensive and available in multiple colors and sizes.

Silicone Trays

Souper Cubes 1-Cup Tray with Lid – Set of 2 | $37

Silicone ice trays have become my secret weapon. Instead of freezing stock in a big container that eats up space, I portion it in ice trays and freeze. This is handy when I need a pop of stock for a simple broth or added flavor in a dish. Same deal for purées: If you have fruits or vegetables that are starting to turn, blend them, portion into molds and freeze. Thank me later!

Grater/Zester

Microplane Premium Classic Series Zester Cheese Grater | $15

My Microplane has literally traveled the world with me. Originally a woodworking rasp, this tool has been adopted by cooks everywhere for its exceptional ability to grate cheese, garlic, chocolate, ginger and citrus zest within seconds. It comes in different sizes to fit the need of whatever you want to shave. When I want to make a quick broth, I can grate all the garlic I want in no time at all without drenching my knife and cutting board in the aroma.

Molcajete

Crate & Barrel 8-Inch Molcajete | $35

Similar to a mortar and pestle, the molcajete is for grinding spices, making sauces and blending up chef-grade guac. This wider and shallower version is made in Mexico from volcanic rock, which imparts a unique taste that elevates the ground spices and sauces. It’s a fabulous tool that I’ve had in my home kitchen and my restaurants for years.