The 10 Tools I Bought After Working in a Fancy Restaurant Kitchen

updated Feb 21, 2024
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Organized kitchen
Credit: Jason Rampe

There’s no way around it: working in restaurant kitchens is hard. But make it a kitchen at a fancy restaurant and the standards are even more elevated ( I mean, we’ve all seen The Bear by now, right?). Everything has to be just right, and if it’s not, you’ll hear about it from everyone — the head chef, the sous chefs, and maybe even the diners.

I worked the line at a fine-dining establishment for more than a year, and picked up tons of cooking tips and tricks. But beyond that, I also learned exactly which tools can make or break a dinner service. And even though I no longer work in restaurants, I still use many of those tools in my kitchen at home — and now you can, too.

Here’s exactly what I bought for my own kitchen after working in the restaurant biz. How many of these do you have in your kitchen?

1 / 10
was $59.99

The most important thing I learned while working in fine dining was to keep your knives sharp. No, seriously — sous chefs would grab your knife and inspect it to see if your knife was sharp enough. Spoiler: it never was. Even though I don’t sharpen my knives as much as I used at the restaurant, it’s nice to know that I can sharpen them at home whenever I want with my whetstone. It takes lots of practice and patience to learn how to properly use a whetstone, so I definitely recommend starting with your less expensive knives!

2 / 10
was $18.99

Between sharpenings, you should also hone your knife to maintain its edge. if you're wondering why I've been harping on the importance of keep your knives sharp, it's to ensure the knife cuts in the direction you need. Plus, in the event of an unfortunate slip, a cut from a sharp knife will heal faster than one from a dull knife.

3 / 10

I reach for my Microplane regularly at home to zest citrus, grate garlic and ginger, make fluffy clouds of Parmesan cheese, powder-ize nutmeg, and more. It's a tiny but immensely mighty tool!

4 / 10

A mandolin can slice vegetables (even tough root vegetables!) as thin as you need them to be, quickly and consistently. In a restaurant kitchen, we’ll double up on food service gloves to protect our fingers, but at home, you can try one of these no-cut gloves. While the mandolin is great for picture-perfect slices, trust me — you do not want to accidentally run your fingertip across the blade.

5 / 10
was $29.99

My fish spatula is just so versatile that I rarely use any other kind of spatula. It’s thinner and more flexible than others, making it easier to get in underneath foods without disturbing a precious crust or crispy skin you've just cooked to perfection.

6 / 10
was $8.99

Even in restaurant kitchens, the pastry brush is used for more than just pastries. At home, I use it to swipe meats with a glaze, brush olive oil onto bread before toasting it, apply an egg wash to dough, seal homemade ravioli, and more.

7 / 10
was $23.58

These spoons are beloved by cooks. They come in perforated (aka slotted) and regular styles, and in a couple of sizes. The perforated versions are great for removing items from oil or soups, and the regular version is great for stirring and saucing. These things are so popular among cooks that I bet they’re the most stolen item in the kitchen. Not that I’m admitting to anything …

8 / 10

These reusable deli containers come in 8-, 16-, and 32-ounces and are super stackable. I use them to prep large meals, freeze leftovers, and store dry goods in my pantry, which brings me to my next item …

9 / 10

Masking tape! I cannot express enough how important it is to label and date your food with basic masking tape. As someone who keeps multiple types of stock in my freezer, knowing exactly what’s in the containers and how old they are is really important.

10 / 10

Actually, this might be the most stolen item in the kitchen! It’s what you’ll use to write the food and date on your masking tape.