Alton Brown’s 5 most important kitchen tools


Serious Eats has been publishing a series of interviews with Alton Brown that are each, in their own way, quite interesting. We wrote about one of them, Will recipes become living things?, in December, and we’ve been meaning to highlight another one that was published last month: Alton Brown’s 5 Essential Pieces of Kitchen Equipment

We wanted to note this interview because  4 of his 5 essential pieces are a bit out of the ordinary – we know about good knives, but the others are more creative:

  • A good kitchen table – people have to eat or cooking is useless
  • A sharp knife
  • A kitchen spoon – he calls it a “talisman for me” – providing mental comfort
  • Light – enough to see, and preferably a mixture of artificial and natural
  • Fire –  gas, grill, or fireplace – it doesn’t matter what kind as long as it’s the primal element of fire.

In particular, we thought his discussion of a spoon, something that provides mental comfort, was inspiring. We’d bet everyone has something like that in their kitchen – an item that makes you happy to use it. For us, it would be a silicon pastry brush. It’s so useful for evenly coating oil in a pan, but also reminds us of painting – it’s just fun to use. If you have something similar, please share.

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  • veronicafrance  on  February 9, 2013

    A real mandoline. I don't use it often, but I adore it when I do! So much more satisfying than using a food processor. And just as quick by the time you've got the processor out, assembled the right bits, taken it apart, and cleaned it afterwards.

    PS I think the table is a bit ridiculous.

  • Vanessa  on  February 9, 2013

    It is "cute" but silly to select things like "fire" and "tables". If you are going there, then you might as well also include refrigeration, pressure, agriculture, and transportation, even "family" and "friends"!
    A good tool is an extension of your hands and arms.
    A couple of the kitchen tools that I love (and some that I've lost):
    – Good wooden spoons, not chunky but sort of like slender wedges. Beautifully shaped, and useful.
    – I had a spaghetti stirrer years ago that was sort of like a long plastic spoon with teeth. What was special about this one was that it was well-balanced, not brittle, and again, beautifully shaped. It finally wore out after a decade or so (getting more toothless year after year) and had to be thrown away. This kind of tool is available everywhere, but all the replacements I've tried have been uglier, unbalanced, with inappropriate spacing between teeth that broke far too easily … I've had to move on but I still miss my old friend!
    – the Microplane box grater (relatively new to my kitchen), because it is so sharp, and so very GOOD at grating, zesting, etc.

  • ellabee  on  February 11, 2013

    Agree with Vanessa — most of AB's choices are "tools" the way many of Michael Ruhlman's _Twenty_ are "methods" (water, sugar, eggs): they're just not. But at least it gave the opportunity for a warming graphic for the post, surely comfort to winter-weary readers!

  • Queezle_Sister  on  February 12, 2013

    I had to pause at FIRE, but I'm still going to stick with induction when I remodel my kitchen. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • krusso119  on  February 13, 2013

    I think that overall, this list is a tad silly. I need a good kitchen table? Gee, I never thought of that before.

    But it's funny, because I agree with him about "fire". I know there are a lot of people who swear by their induction cooktops – but it will always be live flame for me. I also have a gas broiler and I love cooking over charcoal, smoking, etc.

  • Queezle_Sister  on  February 14, 2013

    Yes, krusso119, there is something aesthetic about cooking with fire, and we'll never give up grilling. But inside my kitchen, I hope the only fire is the lit candle, and perhaps an occasional flambé.

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