Personal and private chefs dream of owning sophisticated gadgets, the latest in kitchen technology, and sleek kitchenware from big names like William-Sonoma.
The reality is hardly so simple. Many personal and private chefs beginning their careers simply do not have the means to own the very best and latest. But that doesn’t mean these chefs can’t still produce outstanding meals for their clients.
Let’s look at the trendiest “kitchen essentials”, that are not so essential after all.
Kitchen “Essential” Ice Cream Maker
The level of America’s love for the frozen treat became painfully evident when Forbes reported on the debut of the $4,000 Pacojet Ice cream maker, designed to self create and almost instantly freeze ice cream with elaborate new technology. Of course, most ice cream makers are far less elaborate and work perfectly well-and set you back as little as forty dollars. Still, ice cream makers also take up precious space, and may not be a top priority, especially for chefs who may consider making frozen treats occasionally but too little to justify the purchase.
Why you Don’t need it: Simply put, there really is no need for an ice cream maker, as there are multiple ways to make creamy and delicious ice cream without a machine. The increasingly popular one ingredient banana ice cream, as well as more traditional cream based ones, like classic vanilla or even dairy free versions, can be made with a little extra time, precision, and simple materials.
The Real Essential: Beaters, a large mixing bowl, and the required ingredients. You’ll also need to allot enough time, and be sure to follow direction exactly in order to get the same texture you’d get from an ice cream maker .
Kitchen Essential: Complete Knife Block & Set
A full set consists of anywhere from six or seven to sixteen different types of knives and has long been a mainstay in even amateur kitchens. As of March of this year, Cuisinart’s fifteen piece silver set was the number one bestselling kit, but it also costs nearly one hundred and fifty dollars.
Why you Don’t need it: Having so many different kinds of knives, especially when you’re starting out, isn’t necessary. There’s a risk with knife sets too: lower cost sets especially run the risk of low quality knives. It’s better to buy knives separately anyway; you’ll probably pay more, but more attention will be made to the specific materials and use of that knife, and you can build up your collection slowly. Higher quality knives will perform better and also last longer.
The Real Essential: Not all chefs may agree with this, but in reality, the iconic knife block is useful but not absolutely essential. To begin, start with four basic but high quality knives: an 8-10 inch Chef’s knife, a serrated knife, a paring knife, and carving knife.
Kitchen Essential: Stand Mixer
There’s no arguing that stand mixers make life easier in the kitchen, or that high quality mixers last a long time and serve multiple purposes. But while many chefs may see a stand mixer as a spill investment, the highly revered ones can run over three hundred dollars, and are also cumbersome to bring from house to house for personal chefs.
Why you Don’t need it: Lower cost alternatives can provide satisfying results without the cost. You can create things like rolls and pizza crusts with a food processor, while a basic electric beater or hand mixer is up for the task for everyday needs like beating ingredients or even creating delicate meringues.
The Real Essential: Hand or electric mixers, and food processors. Do be advised that these are less powerful and perhaps less reliable. But they will do well in a pinch, and while you’re saving up. In other words: if you don’t have the money to buy a high quality stand mixer, it’s best to wait and work with hand or electric mixers, so you can buy a top notch stand mixer that will last for years to come.
The overall take away?
If you can’t afford something right away, there still no reason that should stop you from pursuing your career. Make incremental and smart investments, and know what you can use in the meantime for quality results.