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These kitchen tools are must-haves, according to a chef

A good meal often starts with great ingredients. However, good equipment can help make all the difference.

To get some clarity and recommendations on which tools to use when, we talked with David Tiner, director and chef instructor at the Louisiana Culinary Institute, about what kitchen items he suggests for beginners as well as a few of his favorite tools. Here’s what he had to say:

Best tools for beginners:

  1. Knives

“Not all knives are created equal, and it’s important to understand the information behind choosing a good knife,” Tiner says. “The right knife should fit in the hand comfortably–it should have a good balance between the handle and blade.”

Tiner recommends holding the knife and feeling its weight before purchasing. A knife that is too heavy will cause fatigue in the hands, whereas a knife that is too light will cause more effort to use and can be felt in the neck and shoulders.

2. Vegetable peeler

A good vegetable peeler is essential for beginners, Tiner says. He recommends the Kuhn Rikon vegetable peelers. “They are light, sharp and inexpensive,” he says. “I have been using this brand for almost 30 years now.”

3. Roux spoon

In Louisiana, many classic recipes require making a roux. Tiner says a flat-edged wooden spoon works perfectly. “A well-designed roux spoon will allow the cook to stir the flour and oil mixture, making contact with the bottom of the pan and edges,” he explains.

4. Cast iron

“Cast iron is king in the kitchen,” according to Tiner, noting that the material pops up everywhere from a skillet to a Dutch oven.

“Cast iron is durable, heats up evenly, holds the heat for a long time and will last a lifetime if you take care of it,” Tiner says. “I use cast iron pots and pans that belonged to my grandmothers. These pans are well over 80 years old.”

5. Measuring spoons

Tiner recommends investing in a heavy-duty set of measuring spoons and cups. A good set will last a while. For example, Tiner says he has a stainless steel set of measuring spoons that are almost 30 years old.

Tiner’s top five tools:

  1. Pizza wheel

While it may seem simple, Tiner says he loves a pizza wheel because it can be used not just for cutting pizza, but also for squaring biscuits and stripping pie dough.

2. Cast iron Dutch oven

Everyone loves a versatile tool, and Tiner loves a cast iron Dutch oven because he can use it to create a stew, fry chicken, cook a pot roast or even bake bread.

3. Potato ricer

Used to press cooked potatoes for gnocchi or other potato dishes, this tool is a must-have in Tiner’s kitchen.

4. Mandolin

Skip the fast-food line and make fries at home. Tiner says a mandolin can be used for making thin fries for Steak Frites or waffle fries.

5. Hog hair pastry brush

Tiner recommends a hog hair pastry brush rather than a silicon version as liquids like melted butter, egg wash, or barbecue sauce cling to the bristles better, making them easier to spread.