Many cooks, new and old obsess about their kitchen gear. There is a dizzying array of knives, mixers, stoves, etc., each claiming to help you be a better cook. Television and magazines would have you think you need a huge gleaming stainless steel behemoth in order to turn out great food.

That just isn’t so!

Fancy kitchen appliances won’t make you a gourmet cook anymore than having a great table saw will make me an accomplished cabinet maker. It may help me do what I want, but it can’t depart technique or passion. If you want a top of the line kitchen for reasons of ego or bragging rights or if you know how to take advantage of the bells and whistles, by all means go for it! But it won’t make you a good cook.

As an adult, none of the kitchens I’ve worked in (non professionally – let me reiterate) have been fancy or elaborate. No matter, with the right practice and adequate gear you can turn out satisfying meals you will enjoy, and you may even impress your friends.

That said, I believe in acquiring and using the best equipment you can realistically afford without blowing your budget or getting caught up in the kitchen arms race. Remember, mismatched pieces may all perform just as well as that shiny new matched set.

If you are just starting out, I strongly recommend shopping the thrift stores and resale shops. There you may find pots, pans for the stove top as well as baking pans for the oven – all at a fraction of the cost of new ones. A 9″x13″ Pyrex pan works the same used or new and won’t reduce the quality of your lasagne or your enjoyment of it. Maybe you will enjoy it more, knowing you did not break the bank to acquire it!

As time permits I will discuss what I feel is essential equipment. I’ll be the first to admit it is not all inclusive but with these tools you will have the basics.
As I said before, it is not the tools, it’s the chef that makes food great!

Eat Well!

David P. Offutt
The Gastronomic Gardener

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