Welcome to Chefs Essentials, a new feature to Eater Miami in which we display the day-to-day essentials of the city’s top chefs. In today’s inaugural edition: the items Verde's executive chef Kaytlin Brakefield can't live without.
Items explained in clockwise order from the picture above:
1. Sharpening Steel: "Chefs steel their knives a couple times a day. A Steel is also very important because as soon as you sharpen your knife (on a stone) you should always steel it. The Steel will take off any little edges, any little "burs" what they call them. That's something I learned from the knife master at Korin."
2. Mandoline Slicer:" A Mandoline is good for any teeny-tiny, little knife work. It's good for consistency or when you want to shave something paper thin. You have to have a Mandoline if you work in a kitchen."
3. Utility Knife: "This is what I would call my Utility Knife. It's bigger than a Paring Knife and smaller than a Chef's Knife. It's perfect for that very small knife work you want to do. I love it because sometimes I find a Paring Knife is just too small for a lot of things I want to do, but a Chef's Knife is a little too big. It's a perfect medium. It's a knife I can use all the time."
4. Chef's Knife: "It's the number one chef's tool. You have to have a Chef's Knife. This is the hard worker- where you do the brunt of the work. It's all-purpose. If I could only have one knife to do everything in the kitchen with it would be a Chef's Knife. "
5. Sharpie: "You label and date everything (in a kitchen) because you want everything to be fresh and F.I.F.O. (first-in, first-out). You want to know what thing's are. There's so many things it's great for. It's permanent marker so it'll stick. I also use it when I Expo. When a ticket comes in, I draw the course lines- they're already on ticket but you want to draw them in so that they standout- that's how I expo. Then when first course goes out then you draw a line over first course, and then you move the ticket to a different side of the board so you know the first course has gone."
6. Plating Spoon: "Everyone has their favorite plating spoon. Mine is a silver, antique plating spoon that I got from a very small antique cook shop in San Francisco. Every chef has a plating spoon because it's what fits your hand perfectly; what you feel you have the most control over. I love this one because I use it to draw on the plate. 'Draw on the plate' is when you write with purees or sauces or whatever. "
7. Vita-Prep: "If I had to pick one piece of equipment that I could not do without it would be the Vita-Prep. You can make sauces and purees and marinades and dressings. You can do everything in a Vita-Prep."
8. Tongs: "Tongs are perfect for plating. That's your second tool. You've got your spoon and anything you can't plate with a spoon you're going to need tongs. Everybody's different, everybody has their different preference, but I like the shorties, the short tongs, because I feel like I have most control over what I'm doing with a shorter tong."
9. Side Towel: "That's what you put on your hand when you're sautéing, because you never-ever grab a pan in a kitchen without a towel. The rule of thumb in a kitchen if you're ever touching a handle of a sauté pan, a sheet tray, anything, you always grab it with a towel. You always keep a wet towel to make sure your board is always clean and nice.”
10. Cutting Board: "You can't cut without a cutting board. The ritual of walking in to a kitchen every day, what are the first couple things you do when you walk into a kitchen: you put on your chef's coat, you make sure your Sharpie and your pen and your thermometer are in your chef's coat, right? You put your apron on, and then you grab a sani-bucket and a cutting board and your chef's knives, and whatever tools you're going to use that day, because you can't do any of it without a cutting board."
Have interesting tools in your kitchen that have a story to tell? Use the hashtag #EaterChefsEssentials to show us your goods!