5 Brilliant Organizing Ideas These Professional Chefs Stole from Restaurants for Their Kitchens at Home

updated Nov 13, 2019
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I’m always in awe of the chefs on those competition cooking shows who can throw together a restaurant-worthy meal in what seems like a blink of an eye. Of course, that probably has something to do with the power of skilled video editors … but let’s not discount the fact that professional chefs have a whole suite of special skills, gleaned from their time spent in restaurant kitchens. Not just culinary skills either — organizational ones too.

See, restaurant chefs have to be incredibly organized in order to churn out food quickly and efficiently. All while keeping their space neat and tidy. Feeling curious, I reached out to a few pros to find out the organizing tips they learned while working in restaurants and brought back to their own kitchens at home. Here’s what they had to say.

Credit: Alexis Buryk

1. Store bulk-buy pantry ingredients on wire racks.

“We use wire racks with casters for pantry storage (especially when we buy in bulk), which is something I picked up from working in restaurants. They are cheap and convenient!” — Chef Jet Tila, Food Network Judge

Credit: Emily Shwake

2. Use plastic deli containers to organize ingredients.

“I love using quart containers to organize ingredients or already prepped foods. They’re easy to clean and super convenient.” — Chef Fiona McCabe, Gramercy Tavern

“We also use quart-, pint-, and cup-sized deli containers for storage. They make great containers and measuring cups in a pinch.” — Chef Jet Tila, Food Network Judge

3. Have every ingredient you’ll need ready to go before you start cooking.

“My biggest kitchen organization tip that I learned from restaurants is ‘mise en place,’ which means having everything in its place and ready to go before you start cooking. This makes the whole experience more seamless and fun.” — Chef Jess Goodman, Untitled at The Whitney

4. Use a garbage bowl to collect waste as you cook.

“Pro tip: Keep a mixing bowl next to you on the counter and use it as your trash bowl while cooking. This saves time and prevents your station from becoming a mess.” —Chef Brad Kilgore, Owner-Chef of Kilgore Culinary

“Cleaning-wise, I’ll make sure to clean as I go, which is made a whole lot easier by using a mixing bowl with a plastic bag as a makeshift garbage bag.” — Executive Chef Julian Baker, Le Zoo 

5. Keep your utensils in reach of your cooking station.

“Invest in a good utensil holder, so you can easily get at whatever you need, whether that’s a whisk or a ladle. That way there’s no need to break from what you’re doing to dig around for the right kitchen utensil.” — Executive Chef David Lee, Planta South Beach 

How many of these do you already do?