No one knows how to stock a kitchen better than a chef. That’s why we looked to local food professionals to learn their top three kitchen must-haves. Their answers range from the practical (a Sharpie) to the personal (favorite cookbooks). You might have heard the importance of a having a good set of spoons, but did you know an extendo fork can come in handy, too? Read on to learn what items sevens can’t live without — and why. It’s likely that their lists will have you rethinking the inventory in your own kitchen.

Local chef's kitchen essentials

A well-stocked kitchen is a functional kitchen!

Wendy Burch, Co-Owner | Table 3 Restaurant and The Wine Market

  1. Bench/pastry scraper: It is so versatile — good for scraping, cutting, separating, scooping (e.g. scooping up cut vegetables to put into the pan), cleaning and so much more.
  2. Maldon sea salt flakes: The perfect salt — always in the salt cellar on my stove. These divine little salt crystals help you to visually measure so you can properly season food.
  3. Kitchen tongs: I am amazed how many people do not use tongs. I use them every time I cook, whether on the stove or grill or to toss salads.

RELATED: Table 3 Owners Wendy Burch & Elise Loehr: FACES of Nashville

Steven Robilio, Executive Chef | Saltine, Char, Amerigo

  1. Mandoline: a tool I use every day. Perfect for all the veggies that go into a great salad. Thinly sliced radish, carrots, cucumbers, etc. This tool gives you that same exact cut every time so all the items are the same thickness.
  2. Speed peeler: cheapest peelers on the market, and the most efficient. These peelers are the easiest to hold and pull the thinnest layer of a peel off the product, so your yield is higher. Best for peeling citrus.
  3. Wooden spoon: Where to even start? A good spoon can be used in so many applications. When using higher-end pots and pans, a wooden spoon is a must as metal spoons on metal pots leave dings and dents. It’s the only spoon to use when making risotto.

Deb Paquette, Executive Chef | Etch and etc.

  1. Plant spray bottle: I fill a plant spray bottle with a blend of my favorite vegetable oil and olive oil. Great to coat veggies, etc., to fully cover with a good misting. You can avoid getting your hands yucky or over pouring from a bottle.
  2. A great set of wooden spoons: Besides stirring pots of soups, I can use them as drumsticks, tasting spoons, tie ribbons to a set and play fairy princess, twist my hair around the stem to hold my hair up, draw faces on the cup of the spoon and have a puppet show with kids!
  3. Extendo fork: Nothing’s better than having fun while my husband is cooking. I stand a foot or two behind him, pull out my “extendo fork,” and go in for the kill of whatever he is cooking. Once retrieved, I have a bit of a taste of what’s for dinner — before I call for pizza! It’s also great for retrieving a potato that has fallen to the back of the oven or testing the doneness of a roast. My life has been outperformed by this miracle of stainless steel!

Travis Sparks, Executive Chef | Deacon’s New South

  1. A Sharpie
  2. Blue tape
  3. A good French press coffee

RELATED: New Restaurant: Deacon’s New South is Now Open!

Jennifer Masley, Founder | EiO & The Hive

  1. The right chopping block or cutting board. I have a few, and they are all Michigan Maple large butcher blocks. Easy to prep multiple items and leave on the block while working. Beautiful to look at, too!
  2. Le Creuset oval dutch oven is the best for everything from roasting vegetables, to soups, to roasting whole chickens.
  3. Blendtec Blender for sauces, smoothies, soups and dressings.

Bailey Rae, Founder | Bailey Rae’s Kitchen

  1. Vegetarian Flavor Bible: This is the ultimate guide to flavor pairings. When I am lacking inspiration, have an ingredient I am not sure what to do with or am stumped at what is missing in a dish, I turn to this book. It tells you the best way to prepare an ingredient, as well as the best things to pair with it and so much more!
  2. Microplane: I use this tool daily. From grating parmesan, ginger and garlic for dressings, to zesting lemons, the microplane is a tool you will find yourself grabbing constantly.
  3. Apple peeler and corer: My grandmother gifted me one of hers as she had two, and this tool is essential to have during apple season! No more browning apples, you will be amazed at how fast this tool will get through 10 apples for a pie or homemade applesauce.

Sylvia Ganier, Owner | Green Door Gourmet

  1. Cruze Dairy Buttermilk from Knoxville, TN: This is the world’s best buttermilk! It’s perfect for making cornbread, batter for fried chicken, you name it!
  2. Sylvia’s Chef Spoon by Ray Stansel: I designed this spoon to have an extra long wooden handle. I was so excited that Ray Stansel made it especially for me! If you do a lot of cooking and are using larger pots, this spoon is very ergonomic and works great for large volume cooking.
  3. Bourbon Barrel Foods Soy Sauce from Louisville, TN: Everything from Bourbon Barrel Foods is amazing, especially their soy sauce. It’s delicious!
Buttermilk, a wooden spoon and soy sauce are three kitchen essentials!

Buttermilk, an extra-long wooden spoon and soy sauce are three kitchen essentials, all available at Green Door Gourmet! Image: Green Door Gourmet

Now, go shop like a chef! Then, cook like one too! If that doesn’t work, visit these local chefs in their restaurants around town

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