Whether you are just starting out and establishing a new kitchen, revamping your old one or searching for a thoughtful wedding gift, there are essential kitchen tools you will use consistently over time and are fantastic investments.
The House Directory asked the team at Borough Kitchen to recommend their top 10 essential tools for every kitchen.
Ask any chef: A good, sharp chef’s knife is the most crucial tool in any good cook’s kitchen, whether you’re making a salad or cooking a five-course dinner. Wusthof is a brand that’s trusted all over the world for robust stainless steel, which retains a sharp edge longer than many competitors. We chose a German steel knife here rather than a Japanese one because while Japanese steel is harder and sharper, it can chip if not used carefully (for example, when it comes into contact with meat bones). German steel is more foolhardy, perfect for less advanced cooks to develop good knife skills before expanding their collection. A 16cm chef’s knife takes care of most kitchen tasks, from carving a chicken to chopping herbs.
A knife is only as good as it is sharp. Our favourite sharpener is the HORL 2, which uses a clever rolling mechanism to get any knife—Western or Japanese—back to shape in about 90 seconds. A magnetic support sets the angle, so you don’t have to guess as you would with a whetstone. It’s less abrasive than a classic pull-through sharpener, too, which only works for Western knives. Simply put, it’s the best of both worlds.
A good chopping board not only makes prep feel like a breeze, but also protects your knife blades, ensuring they stay sharp for as long as possible. We love Epicurean wood composite boards because they are kind to your knife blades while also being very easy to clean, thanks to their thin shape. (They’re dishwasher-safe, too.) Unlike plastic boards, they won’t form deep knife grooves, where bacteria tend to collect.
When it comes to essential pieces of cookware, it’s hard to point to individual pieces—a saucepan is just as key as a frying pan, for example. They work as a team. What is the basic cookware team of pans every good cook should have? Two saucepans (small and large), a medium-large frying pan, and a sauté pan, which combines the wide base of a frying pan with the height of a saucepan. These will take care of most tasks, from browning butter to frying eggs to cooking a curry. High-quality stainless steel is a great material as it works on all hobs including induction and is oven-safe. One such example is our Mauviel M’Cook 4-Piece Set, where the frying pan we chose is oven-safe and non-stick. Every cook should have at least one non-stick pan for stubborn ingredients like eggs and fish that tend to stick to stainless steel pans.
This cast iron pot is enamelled, meaning it does not need to be ‘seasoned’ with a layer of oil to be stick-resistant or cleaned without soap like standard cast iron pans. What sets Staub apart is a black enamelled interior which, unlike more common white enamelled interiors, is textured, which makes it better at browning ingredients and easier to clean. A Staub cocotte is made to go from hob to oven to table and is excellent for baking loaves of bread too.
6. Mauviel Roasting Pan (M’Cook, M’Stone, M’Heritage)
We love Mauviel’s range of roasters for their top-notch quality and tall, upright handles that take up less space in the oven. The stainless steel (M’Cook) and non-stick (M’Stone) roasting pans work on all hobs including induction, too, which is perfect for making pan sauce; while the copper roaster (pictured) looks incredible at the centre of the table when entertaining (but does not work on induction hobs).
7. Mortar & Pestle (Milton Brooks / John Julian)
Using ground spices is fine for a regular home cook—but a great home cook knows the difference it makes to ‘wake up’ whole spices. A mortar and pestle is essential for that, as it lets you grind both dry spices and fresh ingredients like garlic and ginger. Ceramic is a great option, as it is both hard-wearing and resists stains. We carry an excellent option from Milton Brooks as well as a more design-forward piece from John Julian (pictured).
Unless you’re a professional chef or a seasoned home cook who has developed a natural instinct for measuring ingredients, you need a reliable scale, especially if you are baking. Ingredients like flour, for example, are difficult to measure correctly by volume because of its fine particles. Using a scale allows you to measure various ingredients in the same bowl, leaving behind less to wash up.
Precision is key when measuring spices; even a 1/4 more dried oregano, for example, could overpower a dish. We like measuring spoons that have a loop to make them stick together, and that are narrow enough to fit into most spice jars.
Some might see a citrus squeezer as a small luxury: you can use your hands to squeeze a lime, after all. However, with a citrus squeezer, you can be confident you’re getting out all the juice a fruit has to offer, while avoiding pesky seeds and sticky hands. We like a slightly larger lemon squeezer best, as it can also squeeze limes—two ingredients that make an appearance in many, many dishes.
Improve your cooking skills by signing up to Borough Kitchen’s Cook School courses, available either in London or online. Learn – from basic skills and techniques to preparing Korean kimchi and bibimbap. Make pasta from scratch, curries, French patisserie, fresh pasta, Thai cooking, Chinese dumplings or master the principles of bread-making. Now that you have the essential tools, learn the techniques and relish the pleasure of cooking, baking and feeding yourself and those you love.
Borough Kitchen are a one-stop shop for the finest utensils, gadgets and tableware, with a website that’s a source for inspirational recipes and advice.
Their core values are:
- Prioritising function over form and only stocking the best performing tools.
- Stocking pieces which will last a lifetime and are designed to be used heavily.
- Testing all products to ensure they are of the highest quality.
Borough Kitchen has an arm of the business dedicated to interior designers and architects working for clients who love to cook and entertain. Designers can sign up to a trade account offering advice, benefits and trade discounts.
Stores & Cook Schools | Customer Service | 020-7043 1478
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Borough Market | 16 Borough High Street, London SE1 9QG | 020-3302 4260
Hampstead | 1 Hampstead High Street, London NW3 1RG | 020-7998 9970
Chiswick | 186 Chiswick High Road, London W4 1PP | 020-3930 0631
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