The Secrets of Minimalist Chefs

Tools of the Chef Trade

It's not the tools, it's what you do with them. Your chef school will teach you how to chop finely and evenly, gauge cooking temperatures, measure ingredients precisely, and much, much more. Once you have these skills, for example, the need for LeCreuset's heat-retention cookware diminishes: a culinary college grad will be able to get the same results from a solid aluminum or old-school cast iron pan.

Back to Basics

The over-processing of food in upscale restaurants has provoked a backlash. Many chefs are getting back to the basics. Executive chef Brian Bistrong believes in essentials such as "knives, a good cutting board, a mandoline, and a blender." Minimalist chef Mark Bittman has an even more streamlined notion of the ideal kitchen. He recommends the following essentials:

  • Chef Knife
  • Instant-Read Thermometer
  • Stainless Steel Bowls
  • Sheet Pan
  • Paring Knife
  • Cast Aluminum Pots and Pans
  • Colander
  • Cutting Board
  • Food Processor

Equip Yourself for Culinary College

As you progress in your culinary career, you'll encounter much more sophisticated kitchen gear in restaurant kitchens. But for culinary school, these basics will suffice. A $10 stainless alloy chef's knife with a plastic handle can take you from home cooking through culinary college, and into your culinary career. A thermometer can also be useful for culinary school students, as they fine-tune their sense of temperature.

Professional kitchen toys can be fun, but by no means are they necessary. Culinary talent, chef school training, and creativity are the real essentials of five-star cooking.

The New York Times, "A No-Frills Kitchen Still Cooks"
The New York Times, "4-Star Dinners Conjured from a One-Star Kitchen"