Chef Bag Essentials for the Restaurant
The tools used by chefs can vary for a number of reasons. Ranging from what is being cooked to the location you will be working in. Each of these can drastically change what a chef will want and need to have on hand at any given time. And while you may have your own standard tools that you always carry with you it is still good to consider what tools are needed depending on the kitchen you are in.
Working in a restaurant carries with it not only a need for specific tools but a whole host of responsibilities one may not necessarily encounter in a home kitchen. For this reason, we wanted to provide a list of the top ten essential tools a chef will most likely need in a restaurant kitchen.
Generally knives and tools will be provided, but if it allows you may be inclined to bring your own and if you do here is a list of items you might want to pack in your bag:
Though you might think this is an obvious first choice, having the right set of knives for a restaurant kitchen is imperative. Depending on the type of restaurant you are working in you might not need to bring your entire collection. However, the ones you should always consider are:
A Chef’s Knife
A Paring Knife
A Chef’s Knife is probably the most versatile knife you can have in a restaurant. It is also most likely the one selected by professional chefs. A Chef’s Knife can be a vital tool for a whole host of dishes you are expected to create. If a chef can only use one knife a well made 8-inch Chef’s Knife will definitely be a top choice. When in doubt having one in your chef bag in a restaurant is a good option.
A Paring Knife is used for the more precision cuts of the meal prep in a restaurant. It provides a chef the maneuverability and dexterity needed in a restaurant kitchen. Not to mention that it also has a reputation among chefs as being one of the more versatile knives to use. As any restaurant chef will tell you one good knife removes the need for having many different knives.
Though scissors may not be a common tool in a household kitchen they certainly can be an essential tool in a restaurant kitchen. You will want a pair that is strong enough to devein shrimp and cut up the shells of shellfish and sharp enough to cut herbs, parchment paper, and cheesecloth.
Scissors are the perfect tool for the professional chef in a restaurant setting that wants to kick it up a notch. Scissors can also be easily stored in one of your chef’s bag knife pockets for easy access.
Part of getting to cook in a restaurant is getting to cook with high-end ingredients. This means you will most likely be using wine as an ingredient and you will need a way to open bottles effortlessly. This is why many chefs always carry a corkscrew on hand.
Though this is considered an essential tool to have you will want to be sure that you choose a brand that will have no problem opening any kind of bottle. You will also want to be sure to find one that is a good size for your chef’s bag. A small corkscrew will easily fit in the utensil pocket of your chef’s bag.
#4 Small Off-Set Spatula
Having a small off-set spatula can be like having a sixth finger for those chefs in restaurants that work with pastries or other delicate foods. Being able to lift food from beneath and provide a safe transfer without clumsily denting or crushing your dish is imperative.
Keeping a small off-set spatula, roughly four to five inches, in your chef’s bag can be the difference in a well-displayed meal for a customer.
If you are a chef that works in a restaurant you are probably always looking for better and quicker ways to prep your food. A Mandoline is just such a tool that can fulfill that need. It is perfect in a restaurant kitchen where many vegetables need to be chopped evenly.
A Mandoline provides smooth and even cuts to any vegetable, far better than a knife could. When working in a restaurant kitchen a Mandoline is essential to a chef’s prep process. Though some can be longer in shape it will still fit in most chef’s bags.
#6 Microplane Grater
When working in a restaurant, customers expect their meal to have a little more zest to it. This is why a must-have tool is a Microplane Grater. From lemon to ginger to garlic, this is the essential tool that will add that finishing dash of flavor to any meal before it goes out to the customer.
With its long flat shape, a Microplane Grater is easily stowed into any chef’s bag. Either sliding into one of the knife pockets or the utensil pouch.
#7 Bench Scraper
While pastry chefs will mostly be the ones to claim this tool as essential it certainly can be an essential tool for any chef working in a restaurant as well. A Bench Scraper easily moves chopped items from one area to another with less fuss and less mess.
Its wide metal face will collect food easily leaving your counter and/or cutting board clean of debris. It can also easily fit in the utensil pocket of your chef’s bag.
#8 Chopping Block
Speaking of cutting boards, many chefs find that bringing their own Chopping Block into a restaurant kitchen is important. It is suggested that the thin plastic cutting boards be avoided in favor of the heavier wooden ones. Not only do these Chopping Blocks tend to last longer under the wear and tear of a restaurant kitchen the added weight prevents slippage while using them.
With this essential tool, you will want to ensure that you have a big enough chef’s bag to handle the size and weight of it. A chef’s messenger bag or backpack should be able to hold it for you.
#9 Fine Tip Tweezers
Once a meal is cooked you will want to ensure it is presented to the customer in your restaurant in the best possible fashion. A good pair of Fine Tip Tweezers tool is essential to help you achieve just that. They are all-purpose, able to plate any food, as well as twirl pasta if need be.
Though it is shaped differently than most other kitchen tools, it can still easily fit within the pockets of your chef’s bag. Either in a pocket or the utensil pouch depending on the space.
#10 Finish Spoon
Part of being a professional chef in a restaurant setting is being able to taste the food you are serving customers at a moment’s notice. This is why an essential tool to always have on hand is a finishing spoon. Though it is shaped slightly different than other spoons it is able to ensure that dishes you are preparing are up to your standards.
A finishing spoon can also be used for saucing, flipping, and stirring to just name a few other tasks it can tackle. This is why you will want to include it with your other tools in your chef’s bag.
Though these items, of course, can vary from chef to chef, these are what most professional chefs consider essential tools to have in a restaurant setting. Of course, the best way to discover the right essential tools for you is to pack try out different tools in your chef’s bag to see what works for you.
Just remember to consider these essential tools if you are ever asked to cook in a restaurant.