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‘Top Chef’-Inspired Kitchen Essentials to Gift Mom This Year

Top Chef Portland
Courtesy of David Moir/Bravo

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If your mom has been following the cheftestants of “Top Chef” through Houston, Texas this season, then she’s likely found herself inspired to recreate the worldly meals featured in the hit Bravo series.

But anyone who’s tried to cook up a dish that is Padma Lakshmi-approved also knows that the right kitchen gear is absolutely necessary. The extraordinary display on cooking shows such as “Top Chef” and “Selena + Chef” (recently renewed for a fourth season) is enough make anyone reconsider using their 40-year-old butter knives for chopping broccoli — sorry, broccolini. 

But of course, the world of cuisine as a novice can be absolutely intimidating. What knife is the right knife? When is a non-stick pan too old? What’s the difference between kitchen towels and bath towels? Worry no more, we’ve compiled the must-have kitchen essentials inspired by our favorite cooking shows. It’s a collection of necessities that every chef should own — just in time to shop for the moms that fancy themselves cooks, bakers or grillers.

 

Hedley & Bennett Apron

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Courtesy of Hedley And Bennett

Why do Bravo’s chefs always look so good when they buddy up in teams? It’s not just Chef Gregory Gourdet’s stunning tortoise specs that lends an air of sophistication to their behind-the-line looks, it’s that Hedley and Bennett style.

The premium kitchen gear company has an entire Top Chef collection on their site, packed with the same aprons you see on the show. But if you’re looking for a little more flare, you can also check out their colorful collaboration with the Grateful Dead, and even a fun Sesame Street collection.

Thankfully their aprons’ style are matched with substance. Made out of 100% cotton twill fabric, this sturdy apron will guard you from heat, cold and moisture in the kitchen, plus they’re machine washable and super strong. To make your gift more personalized, go with a curated gift box — they have ones specially made for bakers, grillers and chefs.

Hedley and Bennett Apron $85 Buy It

 

A Really Good Knife

A chef’s knife is an extension of their hand. A dull knife will rip apart your delicate cuts and bruise your farmer’s market veggies. It’s time to retire the steak knives you stole from your parents house in college and buy a big-kid blade.

The world of knives is vast and super intimidating and absolutely something we will revisit again. For now, let’s just assume you don’t need a $700 Nenox knife with a 100-year-old carbonized wood handle (although there’s no denying this knife is stunning).

Instead try the Misono UX10. This popular blade is made with hard steel which can hold its edge longer than most traditional knives. It’s also crafted specifically for right or left-handed chefs. However, this knife requires regular maintenance and a bit of skill to sharpen. You can either bring this knife into your local knife store for regular fixes, or you can learn how to sharpen your own knives yourself. Above we’ve embedded a tutorial from Korin, the authority on cutlery care. If you’re going to invest in this type of purchase we strongly recommend spending time on the Korin YouTube page. Also, you’ll need to purchase a wet stone and a ceramic honing steel to sharpen at home. 

If you’re exhausted already, we’ve got a few less-finicky knives below. That said, all knives should be sharpened or you’re dooming yourself to bruised tomatoes!

In more affordable blade buys, we recommend the Wusthof Classic Santoku Knife. This German-made knife is a durable workhorse and will last for years. The Victorinox Swiss Classic Chef’s Knife is another exceedingly popular knife that will last. Both require diamond steel for sharpening, just not as extensively (FYI never use a diamond steel on a more expensive knife like the Misono, only carbon steels for that).

If you have a ton of counter space real estate, check out the Wusthof block. However, we find that people often feel pressured into buying these massive blocks simply so their knives have a home in their kitchen. To avoid that excess just get a blade protector for storage.

Wusthof Classic Santoku Knife $149.95 Buy It

The Fishing Knife Set Designed by Tom Colicchio

Courtesy of Made-In

Designed in collaboration with “Top Chef’s” Tom Colicchio, these fishing knives are a top-grade accessory for any seafood lovers. The set comes with two blades, one serrated and one straight-edged, allowing for precise cuts and butchering on any type of fish. The straight-edged Flexible Fillet Knife is designed for deboning, skinning and filleting fish, while the Utility Knife is best for tougher cuts (like taking the head off a fish) thanks to its serrated edges.

BUY NOW: $89 Buy It

Cutting Board 

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Courtesy of HBO Max

If you liked the monstrous block Gomez was cutting on through on “Selena + Chef” last year, then we recommend this three-inch tall Boos Block classic. Just know, you’re going to have to pick up this 21 pound baby and wash it in the sink every time it gets dirty.

But you can’t go wrong with the Boos brand, no matter what the size, and it normally comes with a year-long warranty. If you’re looking for something cheaper, “Top Chef” has been leaning on Anolon’s chop-and-slice cutting boards this season, which ring in at a reasonable $35.

Boos Block Cutting Board $186.65 Buy It

 

Utensils

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Courtesy of Amazon and Williams Sonoma

Every kitchen needs a rubber spatula, a whisk, a fish spatula and a wooden spoon (or comparable high-heat resistant spoon that isn’t metal). There are so many great brands to choose from here, but we wanted to single out a few of our favorites.

Rubber Spatula – Fight the urge to buy a “set” of rubber spatulas. Realistically you need one, two tops. Check out these $14 silicone spatulas in white, blue, black, turquoise and more.

Whisk – You can’t go wrong with this 10” dishwasher-safe whisk from Progressive International.

Fish Spatula – You’ll use the beloved Lamson Chef’s Slotted Turner way more than you anticipate.

Spoon – A wooden spoon or a high-heat resistant silicone spoon are preferred over a metal spoon.

 

Utensil Holder

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Courtesy of Williams Sonoma

Once you get your collection of essential kitchen tools, you will need somewhere to store them! The bain marie stainless steel pot often doubles as a utensil holder. Stay classic and go with the steel look or go wild and get something ceramic, the choice is entirely yours!

Ceramic Partitioned Utensil Holder $39.95 Buy It

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Le Creuset Signature Dutch Oven

Courtesy of William & Sonoma

Le Creuset’s famous dutch ovens make a star appearance in the latest season of “Selena + Chef” when award-winning chef Kwame Onwauche introduces the star to traditional Nigerian food. Although Gomez is seen steaming stews and braising chicken, the enameled cast-iron cookware is good for all types of slow-cooking. The oval shape is particularly good for roasts and poultry, while even heat distribution locks in moisture for more tender results.

BUY NOW: $395 Buy It

Non-Stick Pan

Courtesy of Amazon

An actually good non-stick pan is an absolute must for anyone who spends a lot of time in their kitchen. It not only makes the act of sauteeing and frying that much more fun, but it also makes post-meal cleaning a lot easier. No one does non-stick better than the “Top Chef”-loved brand Anolon. This anodized frying pan set is top-rated, featuring rubber handles, sloped  sides and a sleek design for only $60.

Anolon Advanced Hard Anodized Nonstick Frying Pan $72.00 Buy It

Mixing bowls

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Courtesy of Amazon

There are loads of adorable ceramic mixing bowls on the market. But take if from us, after you’ve cracked your expensive darlings for the second time, you’ll go back to the stainless steel standbys.

Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls Set $22.99 Buy It

 

Pot/Sauté Pan 

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Courtesy of Amazon

Depending on what you’re most prone to cooking, most kitchens will require two sauté pans and a collection of pots (usually a 2-quart, a 4-quart and an 8-quart). Pans are absolutely the most abused items in the kitchen, so they need to be study, able to go on top or in the oven and easy to clean. So far, All-Clad maintains its top-of-the-line reputation. In fact, we’ve had the same All-Clad pots and pans for over a decade, and they show no signs of wearing out yet. They’re dishwasher safe and work fine on any range.

You can buy them piecemeal over time and build a collection based on your usage, which is wallet-wise the smartest decision. Or you could go all in on an All-Clad set.

All-Clad Stainless Steel 10-Piece $699 Buy It

Peelers

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Courtesy of Amazon

As much as we all think we can effortlessly peel a carrot or cucumber with our fancy new knives, it’s difficult. Remove that stress from your life, buy a cheap peeler and get it in a fun color so you can always find it.

Kuhn Rikon Original Swiss Peeler 3-Pack $13.52 Buy It

Sheet Pan/Parchment Paper 

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Courtesy of HBO Max

Measure twice, buy once. Make sure your sheet pan and parchment paper purchase is aligned, as they’re used in tandem. First, see what size sheet pan your oven can handle. There are full sheet trays and there are half sheet trays. Unless you’re cooking professionally, you’re likely only going to need the half sheet pan. Once you’ve selected the proper pan, you’ll want to make sure you pick parchment paper that fits on your tray so it doesn’t bunch up (above), or keep your kitchen shears handy.

Sheet Tray $27.50 Buy It

 

Pepper Mill

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Courtesy of Amazon

Before it started making cars and bicycles, this 200-year-old company made coffee and pepper grinders. Today the Peugeot pepper grinder still stands the test of time as the ultimate spice shredder. Some choose to go electric with their spice grinders, but we will always be partial to the classic, manual mills. Available in a variety of sizes and colors.

Peugeot Pepper Mill $26 - $94 Buy It

 

A Blender

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Courtesy of Amazon

To make Jon and Vinny’s cilantro sauce, Roy Choi’s Korean BBQ breakfast tacos or his Hawaiian malasadas, your kitchen needs to be equipped with a blender. Online users are mad for Vitamix, specifically the Vitamix 5200. And the hype is real, it’s a powerful piece of equipment. However, if you’re looking for something a bit cheaper and a little more versatile check out the Ninja Mega Kitchen System.  Remember not all blenders need enough horse power to run a small golf cart. In fact, the Bamix hand blender takes up no space and packs a lot of power for something that can fit in your drawer.

Ninja Mega Kitchen System $150 Buy It

‘Please Pack Your Knives’ Cutting Board

Courtesy of Etsy

A skilled chef knows that the first impression can be made long before the food hits the table. If you’re entertaining guests, a curated charcuterie board for cheese and crackers (or as Padma Lakshmi prefers, spicy nuts), is a must for keeping everyone happy and fed before the real meal is ready. Luckily, a charcuterie board doesn’t have to do anything too fancy; it just has to sit there and be pretty while you top it off with your favorite snacks.

“Top Chef” fans will appreciate this adorable one from Etsy which is etched with the eliminating words said at the end of every episode: “Please pack your knives and go.”

BUY NOW: $30 Buy It

A ‘Top Chef’ Cookbook

Courtesy of Amazon

Writing a cookbook is a rite of passage for the most successful “Top Chef” contestants. One of the most popular is from Dale Talde, who first competed in the show’s fourth season before returning as an “All Star” in Season 8 and becoming a recurring guest judge. His cookbook includes recipes from his ultra-popular Asian-American restaurant Talde in Brooklyn, inspired by his own family’s Filipino culinary upbringing.

Asian-American: Proudly Inauthentic Recipes from the Philippines to Brookyn Buy It

No-Nonsense Kitchen Towels 

Courtesy of Amazon

There are so many lovely kitchen towels to choose from, but sometimes simpler the better — especially when you know it’s going to be covered in grease and oil within minutes. These best-selling hand towels from Amazon are exactly like the ones used in high-class restaurants across the world: utilitarian-sleek.

Kitchen Towels $25.99  $22.49 Buy It

 

Kosher Salt

Courtesy of Amazon

The kitchen staple. The “must have” in every recipe. There is no substitute for kosher salt. Diamond brand is preferred as other brands will measure differently in recipes.

Kosher Salt $10 Buy It