I’m a Restaurant Worker, and These Are the Multipurpose Kitchen Gadgets I Can’t Live Without

published Jun 2, 2023
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Waiters carrying plates with meat dish at a restaurant
Credit: UfaBizPhoto/Shutterstock

When I try to explain why I’m so happy these days, I often think about the time spent at the dinner table growing up. My parents are both restaurateurs: They would spend entire days on their feet serving others, yet still came home to prepare beautiful meals for the whole family. I remember pork tenderloin roasted to perfection and whole branzinos tossed on the grill — always accompanied with dazzling vegetables and a wine that “just had” to go with it (only a splash for my little sister and I, of course). Earlier this year, I left my corporate job and started working at a cocktail bar that was just named one of the 50 Best in North America — with one of NYC’s top oyster programs — and I’ve never been happier. I do more than just serve good food and great drinks; I’m a part of a team that’s constantly working together to curate an unforgettable experience for every single person that walks through our doors.

However, it’s not easy work: Those great meals and memories we help create wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for the lessons I learned from working in restaurants and growing up watching professional kitchens in action. One of the easiest and best ways to make sure everything runs smoothly in the restaurant (and in my home kitchen when I cook for friends and family) is having the right tools at my disposal. That’s why I put together this short list of some of my favorite pieces of multipurpose kitchen tools that are sure to help you craft perfect dining experiences for everyone in your life. 

1 / 8

Before you start cooking — maybe even before you read through this list — why not pour yourself a glass of wine? In my book, that’s proper mise en place. My mantra for buying new tools is this: “Buy sparingly, replace never.” This wine key may seem like a splurge, but it’ll last you a lifetime. The wooden handle looks sophisticated and provides an unmatched grip, and it’s also one of the sturdiest models on the market. The Prestige Waiters Corkscrew also has a solid weight to it — a good thing, because you’ll be able to feel it in your pocket. Plus, you can use the folding knife to peel labels and open boxes, and the built-in bottle opener makes popping caps a snap.

2 / 8

Not only is this mandoline from OXO my favorite time-saving kitchen gadget, but it’s also my go-to housewarming present. It’s dishwasher-safe and the blade is still as sharp as the day I got it years ago. Hate chopping onions? Use this to thinly slice the whole thing, then quickly mince the pile in a fraction of the time. Making a batch of margs for your friends this summer? Use it to create paper-thin lime wheels for the perfect garnish.

3 / 8

One of the biggest differences I notice between home cooks and professional chefs is that many home cooks use measuring cups instead of digital scales. Using a digital scale while cooking means more precise measurements, less cleanup, and a much easier time scaling and adapting recipes. This scale from Escali has nearly every feature and unit of measurement that a home chef would need, and is super useful for meal prep, baking, fermentation, pickling, and more. (Plus, the Italian company has once again realized that design is sometimes just as important as function — just check out how many colorways this bad boy comes in!)

4 / 8

If you’re not just a bit haunted by these containers, then you probably haven’t worked in a restaurant before. “Quarts” are essentially Swiss Army knives when it comes to perishable goods. Use them for meal prep, leftovers, infusions, pre-chopped ingredients, pickling — the possibilities are truly endless. You can throw them in the microwave to reheat food, then toss them right into the dishwasher for easy cleanup. These ones are made from a BPA-free plastic that’s ranked highly safe for heat tolerance and food consumption.

5 / 8
was $19.99

Buying a silicone spatula has helped make home cooking a cinch more than any fancy gadget I own — and that’s not hyperbole. This tool will ensure every last bit of flour gets incorporated when mixing in a bowl and that your scrambled eggs don’t stick when you’re cooking in a pan. They’re a breeze to clean, too, and after spending hours testing silicone spatulas like Harry Potter at the wand store, I can confidently say that this one from Now Designs feels best in the hand — and in the kitchen.

6 / 8
Hedley & Bennett

If you want to play the part, sometimes it’s best to look the part. The aprons from Hedley & Bennett are incredibly durable, completely adjustable, and — let’s be honest — look amazing. Putting on the apron helps me get in the zone when attempting a more ambitious recipe and gives me the confidence I need to wear something more elegant than a T-shirt when having friends over for dinner. It also has pockets for all your tools and a utility loop for your tongs or towels.

7 / 8
Williams Sonoma

A whole set of Wüsthof knives is a splurge that — although I’m sure is worth it — is a sizable chunk of change for most of us, including me. That said, their paring knife is a perfect way to get your collection started! The German blade-makers have been cranking out some of the best knives in the world since 1814, and my Wüsthof paring knife is a kitchen workhorse and always within reach. There’s nothing like a paring knife for precision, whether you’re slicing garlic so thin you can see through it or making the perfect orange twist for your Negroni.

8 / 8
Williams Sonoma

I originally got this All-Clad pan as a birthday present from my dad, and a month after sending him pictures of everything I was cooking in it — which was everything I was cooking — he bought one for himself. I’ve fried peach fritters in here, tossed enough pasta to serve a dozen people, and let lamb shanks simmer until they quite literally fall off the bone. This one is definitely a splurge, but with proper care (Pro Tip: Use a little baking soda and white vinegar) this is definitely a pan you’ll hand down to your kids one day. That is, If you can fathom the idea of giving it up yourself!