Chef's Knife: There's nothing better than a good knife for a chef. It's one of those things you'll wish you had invested in sooner rather than later. Make sure the knife you choose feels comfortable in your hand. You should feel comfortable holding it, controlling it, and not having to worry about it getting too heavy. I currently own: 8 Inch Henckel's Classic (also used by Gordon Ramsay, btw :))
Metal Spatula: For flipping, tossing, and serving foods of all kinds, a sturdy metal spatula is crucial. I prefer a slotted version to lift out greasier hamburgers and steaks. And don't give me a plastic handle, I guarantee I'll melt it on a hot pan at some point. I recommend OXO Brushed Stainless Steel Turner.
Plastic Spatula: With a non-stick pan you'll need a plastic spatula so you don't ruin the surface. Be sure to pick one that handles high heat, and has a broad surface for flipping pancakes and eggs. I recommend OXO Nylon Square Turner.
Silicone Spatula: You'll need one of these for scraping your mixing bowl, pots, and frosting a cake. If you do a lot of baking you might want 2 spatulas...one for baking and one for cooking (to keep that smelly garlic & online away from your bakes). I always make sure mine can also handle higher heats so I can use them for caramel, scraping hot pans, AND so I don't accidentally melt them on a hot surface. I recommend BakeRoyal 4-Piece Spatula Set.
Whisk: You can survive without a stand mixer and even a hand mixer if you have a good whisk and strong arms. A balloon whisk does a great job mixing batters, whipping egg whites, and emulsifying vinaigrettes. Think about a flat whisk if you love making gravy and sauces. I recommend OXO 11-inch Balloon Whisk and Prepwork Flat Whisk.
Slotted Spoon. You'll need a spoon for mixing batter, stirring soups, and even lifting onion rings out of oil. A slotted spoon acts as a stirring tool as well as a mini colander. Be sure to choose a version that stands up to high heats, is plastic so it can be used on non-stick pans, AND can go in the dishwasher. I recommend: Zulay Kitchen Professional Skimmer Spoon.
Kitchen Shears. I mean. Kitchen shears can cut pizza, cut green onions, open packages, and so much more. Look for a pair that is easy clean and has additional tools (many come with bottle openers built into their design). I recommend: iBayam Kitchen Shears.
Tongs: You'll use these for salad, frying bacon, boiling corn, grilling hotdogs, and even helping to check cookies in the oven. Be sure to grab a pair that are dishwasher friendly and heat resistant. Also, look for a pair that has an easy-store design so they don't take up unnecessary space. Tongs come in 9 inch and 12 inch sizes but I find the 12 inch size to be the most versatile. I recommend: OXO 12-inch Locking Tongs.
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