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Celebrity chefs work long hours in busy kitchens and depend on reliable cooking tools to get the job done perfectly each and every time.
When they're at home, they expect the same reliability in appliances to prepare food for their families. With that in mind, we asked 13 chefs to share the one kitchen tool they can't live without — and were surprised at the variety of kitchen essentials they'd recommend for home chefs.
From a guacamole-making secret weapon to the multipurpose tongs one chef has attached at the hip, here are some of their favorites!
1. T-fal Pre-Seasoned Nonstick Cast Iron Pan, $25, Amazon
"The one kitchen item I can't live without is a nonstick cast iron pan. I love to use it for a great steak or for roasts that need a heavy sear and deep caramelized color," said celebrity chef Geoffrey Zakarian. "This type of pan is a once in a lifetime purchase that you can pass along to your families. It does everything and is one of the most versatile items," the chef and partner of Point Royal at The Diplomat Beach Resort and The Lambs Club shared with TODAY.
2. NutriBullet 12-Piece Blender/Mixer System, $50 (originally $60), Amazon
"One item I can't live without is the NutriBullet," Masayoshi Takayama, chef and owner of Masa and Tetsu in New York City, told TODAY. "I use it a lot to make sauces and purees and it's such an easy tool to also use in all of my restaurants."
3. Gourmia Air Fryer, $100, Kohl's
"I can't live without my Gourmia air fryer because I can make comfort foods that are guilt-free," celebrity chef Cat Cora told TODAY. "It's also quicker than baking and I have six kids so efficiency is key. Best part is, I still get my crunch without using heavy oils."
4. Chef'n Freshforce Citrus Juicer, $20, Amazon
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"My other go-to item is my Chef'n Freshforce citrus juicer. I like to start my day with hot water and fresh lemon, it wakes me up while igniting my digestive system. The Chef'n makes squeezing easy without wasting any juice," said Cora.
5. Misen Santoku Knife, $65, Misen
"It would, without question, have to be a good, solid chef's knife," said Adam Richman of "Man v. Food." "Something with a solid tang, which is just a super naughty-sounding way of saying, one main piece of metal that runs throughout the whole knife, instead of a blade inserted into a handle. Sure, I have a lot of knives that I use for a specific purposes (boning, carving, and I have a really bomb santoku I use for chopping), but if I had to pick just one, it would be a great, quality chef’s knife."
6. KitchenAid 3-Piece Pasta Attachment Set, $160, Amazon
It is almost comical how often "Top Chef" alum Fabio Viviani tells people how easy it is to make their own pasta. In fact, at all of his restaurants (including Chicago's Italian spots, Bar Siena and Siena Tavern) all pasta dishes include fresh, made-that-morning pasta.
Viviani said the easiest way to make homemade pasta is to have a KitchenAid mixer with a three-piece pasta roller and cutter set. "Being Italian, pasta is in my blood, but not just any pasta, I need fresh pasta," he explained. "People can be intimidated about making their own pasta at home, but if you have a KitchenAid Mixer and Cutter, it really is one of the easiest things to do."
7. Health Smart Granite Mortar and Pestle, $20, Amazon
"As an obvious guacamole fanatic, my mortar & pestle gets a lot of use," executive chef of Dos Caminos and "Hell’s Kitchen" winner Ariel Fox told TODAY. "It's common for most home chefs to chop and mix ingredients in a bowl, but it's very important to properly grind your spices to ensure all the full-bodied flavors and essential oils are being highlighted in your dish ... I always tell people that they don't know how much they need a mortar & pestle until they actually have one!"
8. Lodge Cast Iron Grill, $85, Amazon
"I like a grill because charcoal is the most delicious way to cook and eat. I specifically love the Lodge grill because it is portable and it stays cleaner than most other grills because it is cast iron," said Justin Woodward, executive chef of Castagna and OK Omens in Portland, Oregon.
9. ThermoPro Dual Probe Digital Cooking Thermometer, $24, Amazon
Chef Matt Bolus of The 404 Kitchen and Pemrose in Nashville said a meat thermometer is his essential home kitchen tool and he doesn't need a fancy one.
"I have all the tools you can imagine at my restaurant, but at home I just like to cook simply. You don't need the fanciest thermometer in the world or the most expensive one on the market, just something simple and effective," Bolus told TODAY. "I like this one because you can temp the meat and set alarms — really the only two things that you need to do."
10. Dinfoger 9"/ 12"/ 14" /16" Stainless Steel Grilling BBQ Tongs, $9, Amazon
"The one kitchen item that I cannot live without is my pair of stainless steel scalloped spring tongs. They are always attached to me when I am in the kitchen and I use them for everything: stirring, mixing, flipping, grabbing and plating food. They are a multipurpose tool," said Michael Schlow, Boston-based chef and "Top Chef Masters" alum.
11. Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil, $20, Amazon
"I can't live without extra-virgin olive oil (with a fruity complexity). I love to use it for salad dressing and to garnish on pasta and soups," said Donatella Arpaia, chef and partner of Prova Pizzabar in New York. "It is my favorite kitchen item because I grew up on extra-virgin olive oil from my mom's farm in Puglia, and this stuff is like liquid gold — I call it the great 'finisher' because a drizzle of raw extra-virgin olive oil brings so many dishes to life."
12. Coravin, Model Two Elite Pro Wine Preservation System, $400, Amazon
"At times when my wife and I want to only have one glass of a special wine, this contraption is what we use at home to preserve the rest of the bottle. It is reliable, perfect for people who care about wine and wish to enjoy a glass from an exceptional bottle. I like it very much," said celebrity chef Daniel Boulud.
13. Vitamix Blender Professional Grade, $428, Amazon
"Vitamix comes in handy for a healthy household on the move, preparing quick shakes for everyone to take with them as we walk out of the door. It's also essential for making restaurant quality smooth purees at home," said chef Bryan Voltaggio of Voltaggio Brothers Steak House at MGM National Harbor just outside of Washington, D.C.
14. Vermicular Rice Pot, $1,028, Amazon
"The Vermicular Rice Pot is simply the best all purpose, all in one precision cooking machine out there. You can set and forget almost anything you make in it, plus it allows for super concentrated flavors of any product, even if you forget to season ahead of time," said "Top Chef" alum Cliff Crooks. "The price is a bit steep but as with all good things, invest in quality because the juice will be worth the squeeze. It paid for itself with how much I rely on it to make anything from chicken thighs to creamed corn or even a seasonal cobbler," explained the culinary director at ESquared Hospitality.
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