The new year gives you an opportunity to reassess what you have in your kitchen and see what upgrades can be made, whether it’s cooking tools, small appliances, or even finally splurging on that nice bottle of EVOO that you’ve been eyeing. If you have the luxury of being able to work from home, you might be noticing some kitchen essentials that are past its prime. Since many of us have turned into at home chefs, make this the time to invest in items that “spark joy” and help bring out your best gastronomic self. Here are 9 luxe ways to upgrade your kitchen and in the process boost your culinary game as well. You’ll find everything from luxe kitchen staples to some things you didn’t know you needed in your life to learning about what item in the kitchen Chef Daniel Boulud can’t live without.
Holy Sheet baking pan from Great Jones, $40.
You may be wondering if it’s really necessary to upgrade your baking sheet. To that I give an emphatic yes! First off, who knew a sheet pan could look so photogenic? Imagine roasting some Brussels sprouts or colorful carrots on this beautiful pan. You’ll want to pull out your camera phone and document yourself making cookies on this beauty. The pan is made from aluminized steel with a ceramic nonstick coating that makes clean up a breeze. Time to move on from those old, warped pans that somehow look like they have baked on cookie remnants from two holiday seasons ago.
2-slice toaster in chrome from Smeg, $190.
In this whole process of reimagining our kitchens, everything is not only functional, but also aesthetically pleasing to the eye. Smeg is the Ferrari of toasters. This is one toaster you won’t mind keeping on the countertop and since it comes in a myriad of colors and finishes, you can order one to match any kitchen decor. It’s retro, but in a good 1950s way.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Frantoio Muraglia, $50.
During the height of lockdown when all the stores were closed and practically the only places open in my city were grocery stores, I would eye Frantoio Muraglia’s hand-painted ceramic bottles of EVOO. At the time I didn’t want to commit to the fifty dollar price tag and would instead opt for the 8.45 oz tin of the award-winning extra virgin olive oil that also came at a more accessible price. But recently I acquired the striped bottle of the cold-pressed EVOO and it’s amazing how much joy I get every time I use it. Treat yo’ self!
6-Quart Duo Plus special Harry Potter edition from Instant Pot, $130.
By now we all know about Instant Pot. The 6-Quart Duo Plus is a 9-in-1 that can take on many tasks from pressure cook to make yogurt to sterilize and even sous vide, but for Harry Potter fans this is the one to get your hands on. This limited edition is available exclusively at Williams Sonoma. The Instant Pot is up to 70% faster and more energy efficient than other cooking methods. Michelle Tam of Nom Nom Paleo swears by hers and she has a slew of great recipes just for the Instant Pot.
H200 Easy Clean Slow Juicer from Hurom, $699.
A juicer is not for everyone, but if juicing is your jam — especially for those planning to detox and do cleanses in the coming weeks — then this is one of the most compact and easiest ones to own. Plus the sleek profile doesn’t look bad on a countertop. It’s a little tall at 17.5 inches, but the minimal footprint leaves you with more counter space for any other need. Bonus that in addition to juices, it also makes nut milks, smoothies, and sorbets.
Custom knives from Westbrooknives, price upon request.
Chef Wes Long has been cooking professionally since high school. He’s worked in kitchens all around the world — New York, Hong Kong, Paris — and is currently the Executive Chef at The Harbour Club in Charleston, South Carolina. He also makes amazing custom knives. Take a gander at all of the gorgeous craftsmanship at Westbrooknives. With years of experience, he knows exactly what makes a knife good and what makes a bad one. I got one two years ago. The weight and hand feel is perfect for everyday cooking. I stopped saving the “good stuff” and started using all of my favorite things because you can’t take them with you. A good knife helps me to be more confident in the kitchen and if you keep your knives sharp, they actually are much safer to use.
Pressure IH Rice Cooker & Warmer 5.5 cups from Zojirushi, $500.
The platinum, not gold, standard in rice cookers is from the Japanese company Zojirushi. Within their line up, the crème de la crème is the Pressure Induction Heating Rice Cooker & Warmer (model NP-NWC). It uses a combination of pressurized cooking and artificial intelligence to cook rice to perfection. The pressure cooking helps to make the rice softer and easier to digest. The AI technology helps to make the cooking consistent in different climates and seasons as well as over the years it won’t diminish in accuracy. The inner vessel features a nonstick coating that is infused with platinum particles — yes, actual platinum — which draws out the sweetness in the rice. Rice connoisseurs will also appreciate that it has Jasmine, brown, sushi, and white rice settings. Additional settings include congee, umami, and steel cut oatmeal.
12-Year Aged Tradizionale DOP Balsamic Vinegar from Bona Furtuna, $100.
Definitely a bit of a splurge, but Bona Furtuna is an organic and sustainable Italian food company that is bringing authentic Italian provisions to the world. This balsamic vinegar is crated in collaboration with Pedroni Acetaia of Modena and and is barrel-aged in oak and chestnut barrels for 12 years. The non-Tradizionale balsamic vinegar only has to be aged for 60 days and even if it says “invecchiato” (aged) the minimum is 3 years. The 12-year aged Tradizionale DOP is a much more premium and rich product from a boutique producer that uses techniques such as withdrawal and refilling the same barrels that have been passed down for generations.
Coravin is an ingenious wine preservation system that allows you enjoy a glass of wine without feeling forced to drink the entire bottle in one sitting. It’s perfect for really special bottles that you want to revisit later. Their latest introduction is Coravin Sparkling, which preserves the flavor and carbonation in sparkling wines for up to 4 weeks. That vintage Rosé Champagne you’ve been dying to taste, you can try a glass at the beginning of the month as a pre-dinner apéritif and savor it throughout the rest of the month — say at brunch the next weekend and then the following week as a nightcap — without diminishing the taste or risk it going flat.
The Timeless Three+ system allows you to enjoy still wines for months and even years. With each pour, the capsules fill the bottle with pure argon gas that prevents oxidation of the remaining wine.
I recently chatted with Chef Daniel Boulud and I asked him what kitchen tool or device he can’t live without. He said, “it’s not about cooking, but the latest Coravin is fantastic because you can now open an expensive Champagne, like Cristal, and not feel guilty. At Daniel and Le Pavillon, we are expanding our program of fine Champagnes by the glass. That’s revolutionary.”
Check out my guide on the best bottles of Vintage Rosé Champagne.
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