Though I work as a culinary professional, my home kitchen is less tricked-out than you’d probably imagine.
For me, a great kitchen doesn’t require a pot filler, built-in griddle or a beverage drawer. Above all else, a true chef’s kitchen is efficient, organized and functional. No matter what size kitchen or what brand of appliances you have, these four chef-approved tips will work in any kitchen, for any cook, to make your kitchen work for you.
Clear the Counter
Counter space is everything to a chef. In my kitchen, anything that can be stored in a cabinet or otherwise out of sight, is. Knives go in a knife block in a drawer; spices and dry goods in the cabinet; and infrequently used appliances, like slow cookers, food processors and blenders, don’t get counter space.
Cabinets and drawers are best when organized according to how you cook. While it might make unloading the dishwasher a little more complicated, I store things near where I am going to use them. Put serving pieces close to the dining table, knives, mixing and prep bowls, and measuring cups near the prep area, cooking utensils next to the stove, etc.
The kitchen tends to be the most shared space in a family house, and oftentimes bags, keys, mail and other non-kitchen items pile up there. I have a drop zone designated to collect my family’s castoffs before they get too far in the door. Make a place for clutter outside the kitchen that keeps it out of sight and out of mind.
Most home cooks will never use all six burners on a 48-inch gas range. Similarly, dual wall ovens might only get used once or twice a year in some kitchens. Select appliances and countertops for more than their aesthetic appeal—choose according to your lifestyle. Same for cookware. Sets can be tempting and appear more economical, but most people don’t use them all.
Rachael Perron is the culinary and brand director for Kowalski’s Markets, where she specializes in product development and selection, culinary education and communications.