16 Kitchen Gadgets You'll Really Use

There's a reason why "going straight to the source" is a thing — because when you need some expert advice, who better to ask than, you know, an expert? That's especially true when it comes to the culinary arts, since no one tries more kitchen gadgets and tools than someone who cooks for a living. So, who else would we enlist to help us figure out what goes into The Perfect Kitchen?
Luckily, 16 of the DMV's most acclaimed chefs were happy to oblige. They're dishing on everything the home cook needs, from strainers and peelers to fancy knives and wish-list-worthy appliances. And, no — it's not all over-the-top stuff you'll never be able to afford (or know how to use). These are the everyday finds that will make you an effortless pro at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Let's cook!
1 of 16
Mike Friedman, executive chef at The Red Hen
"At The Red Hen, we use our Japanese mandolines every day. Whether cutting slivers of garlic for pasta or raw root vegetables for a lively winter salad, the mandoline offers cooks the opportunity for beautifully thin cuts with a high level of consistency. The adjustments allow for a multitude of thicknesses, and the mandoline also comes with three sets of teeth that can be attached to achieve different cuts. A hand guard is included to protect your digits while you're impressing your guests."

Benriner Japanese Mandoline Slicer, $32.99, available at Harvest Essentials.
2 of 16
Roberto Donna, chef of Al Dente and Alba Osteria
"An induction burner for sauces. A wide blade cutter for pasta — it closes the ravioli at the moment of cutting. [And], in general, every home should own a Vitamix blender!"

Vitamix TurboBlend 2-speed Blender, $399, available at Vitamix.
3 of 16
Steve Hartzell, chef at El Centro DF in Logan Circle
“Every time I cook at home, I use my cast iron skillet — it is so diverse. You can bake in it, fry in it, sear a steak, roast a chicken...I also love using it because it’s been in my family for four generations. They prove their durability, if taken care of properly.”

Rachael Ray 12-Inch Cast Iron Open Skillet, $79.99, available at Sears.
4 of 16
Matt Adler, executive chef at Osteria Morini D.C.
"I love my stainless-steel truffle slicer. It's a very versatile tool and great for slicing garlic, shallots, and fresh chilies that you want paper-thin. It's also perfect for thinly slicing Parmigiano-Reggiano on pasta. And, of course, during truffle season, it's indispensable."

Eppicotispal Truffle Slicer, $19.95, available at Sur La Table.
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Ashley Soto, pastry chef at Farmers Fishers Bakers
"An immersion blender is a great investment for the home cook. I use it all the time at work and at home to make so many things: soups, sauces, milkshakes, mashed potatoes, smoothies…the list goes on. It's a versatile tool — most come with food-processor attachments, as well, so it's almost like having multiple appliances in one."

KitchenAid 2-speed Immersion Blender, $39.99, available at Zappos.
6 of 16
David Guas, owner and chef at Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery
“The Cuisinart is still a best seller for a reason: It's one of the most versatile inventions for a cook, whether [you're] a professional chef or home cook.”

Cuisinart Prep 9 9-cup Food Processor, $149, available at Bed Bath & Beyond.
7 of 16
Jim Jeffords, executive chef at Evening Star Cafe
"Vita-Prep, if you can afford it, is amazing for making sauces, purees, and soups that can be easily frozen. It's also great for making cocktails. I use a cast-iron skillet for making a frittata, which is a crowd-pleasing go-to for using any ingredients in the house — [and] the cost-to-awesome ratio is through the roof. A Teflon pan is perfect for adding a fried egg to anything."

Oneida Large Non-Stick Skillet, $24.99, available at Oneida.
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Tucker Yoder, executive chef at The Clifton Inn
“I can't live without my Champion Juicer, one of my favorite and longest-lasting tools in the kitchen!”

Champion Household Juicer, $240, available at Champion Juicer.
9 of 16
Bradley Curtis, chef at Flight
"I adore my 10-inch tweezer tongs. They are like a long pair of tweezers, but thick and sturdy — they work well as a substitute for those big, bulky tongs. They allow you to be a lot more delicate, but still grasp larger items."

Kuchenprofi Extra-Long 12-Inch Stainless Steel Kitchen Tongs, $12.99, available at Casa.
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Rob Rubba, executive chef at Tallula and EatBar
"[My] essential item is a Japanese suribachi mortar. It's a beautiful addition to any kitchen's aesthetic. [It's] much more versatile then an average mortar and pestle. [I] use it to grind herbs while retaining the essential oils, make pestos and nut and seed sauces, [and] tenderize octopus. It's light and easy to move around, unlike the more common stone mortars."

Kitchen & Company Japanese Suribachi Mortar and Pestle, $9.99, available at Kitchen & Company.
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James Huff, chef at Pearl Dive Oyster Bar
"[I recommend] the slotted Peltex fish spatula. It has big slats and is angled and malleable, and therefore [it's] easy to flip things. It's great to flip delicate items like eggs, pancakes, and, of course, fish. It's also great to use outside on the grill, as it keeps the meats' juices intact better than other tools, like tongs."

Peltex Stainless Steel Slotted Spatula, $16.60, available at JB Prince.
12 of 16
Katie Busch, chef at Bistro Vivant
"Well, the most obvious answer is the Vita-Prep! But, I'm pretty sure that's what everyone would say, because there's about a billion reasons [it's] the best thing in the kitchen, and awesome if you can afford one for home. But, for something more obscure, I'd say a legitimate T-peeler — since most people are still working with Grandma peelers at home that are absolutely terrible. It's a pretty simple item, but it's a must for my house."

Swissmar Peelers, $17.95 for set of three, available at Williams-Sonoma.
13 of 16
Chris Jakubiec, executive chef at Plume at The Jefferson
“I am old-school when it comes to cooking, [so] I love collecting vintage copper bowls. Not only do they look great, but they are perfect for making hard candies."

Mauviel Copper Mixing Bowl, $100, available at Frontgate.
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Colin King, chef of Oyamel
"One of my favorite at-home kitchen gadgets is the conical strainer, or chinois. I love making stocks at home, so if you open my fridge, you'll see lots of stocks and homemade pickles. [This] is great to make soups, sauces, and, of course stocks."

Rosle Stainless Steel Conical Strainer, $40.95, available at Wayfair.
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William Morris, executive chef at Vermilion
"Three things: a Takeda chef knife, saucing spoons, and [a] mortar and pestle. The knife is completely hand forged, super light, and very sharp. Spoons [are my] workhorses — [I] use them for everything from tasting to cooking to plating sauces. [The] mortal and pestle has more of an emotional value; [I] use it at home to grind spices in to pastes."

Takeda Aogami Super Funayuki Chef Knife, $260, available at Chubo Knives.
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Dimitri Moshovitis, chef at Cave Mezze
"A KitchenAid mixer with sausage and pasta attachments. This is my do-it-all gadget, because it literally can do everything. [It] helps save time and ensures that the food is being handled properly.

"I don't care if you are cooking for your family, or cooking for a major restaurant in D.C. — every chef needs good knives. It helps with the consistency of your food, so when it gets cooked, it's cooked evenly. Invest in good knives.

"[And], a microplane grater. [It's] the perfect tool to zest in some extra flavor to any meal."

Crate & Barrel Microplane Grater-Zester, $14.95, available at Crate & Barrel.

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