Essential Chef Equipment and Supplies for Culinary Students
Whether you are eagerly starting your food career journey, have changed career paths or have finally made the plunge to fully embrace your passion at culinary school this fall, investing in chef equipment and supplies professional’s use is the best first step.
Long gone are the days where the only thing you could do with a culinary arts degree is to be a professional chef in a restaurant. Yes, running the kitchen of a successful restaurant and even just working in one for part of your career can be incredibly valuable, eye-opening and rewarding. But, with a culinary arts degree or diploma in your hand, many career paths open you may never have even known existed. Beyond being asked to prepare food for every family event, of course!
Types of Chefs
Chef – with the general knowledge and skills of a chef, any kitchen is a possibility from a family diner to fine dining to hotel banquets.
Pastry Chef - specializing in baking and pastry, this specialty can be an integral part of a restaurant or warrant an entirely separate operation like a bakery or café or could specialize in wedding cakes.
Personal Chef - working independently and managing your own schedule while still being able to prepare a variety of menus is appealing to many chefs.
Private Chef - working full time with one client appeals to many chefs and can even include some catering events depending on the clients’ needs. Location can be in the client’s home, business or even yachts and vacation properties.
Catering Chef – preparing food and drinks for special events can be exhilerating for many chefs, being part of momentous occasions for their customers can be extremely rewarding and challenging. From small intimate gatherings of 10 people to festival events where thousands may be served.
Food Truck Operator - a mobile business allows many chefs to specialize in one form or style of food or to try out many types without the constraints of a brick and mortar business.
R&D Chef (Research and Development) – The art and science of food and cooking meld in this occupational choice, working with businesses looking to develop products for the retail market; a chef’s palate and creativity flourish.
Food Stylist/Photography - preparing food for the goal of taking photos is greatly enhanced with a culinary education.
Culinary Instructor - if your passion for food and wanting everyone to learn what you know appeals, a cooking school instructor might be the right path for you. Students of every age and eager to learn.
Food Writer – food writing encompasses a vast array of opportunities and having a culinary arts background can provide an advantage. Reviewing restaurants, writing a cookbook, starting a blog or even writing about culinary topics for foodservice and retail audiences are just the tip of the iceberg.
Nutritionist - Health and well-being are trends that never fade away. Combining some nutrition education with a culinary degree gives clients
Beverage Chef - Specializing in beverages goes far beyond the bar and can include being a bartender, sommelier, barista, brewer or distiller.
Food and Beverage Management - from managing an entire restaurant, bar or catering company to even working in the hotel industry.
A culinary education can come from a privately operated school, an accredited college or institution or even online, but regardless of where or how you are learning, having the right equipment is key for success.
Dressing for success is just as important in a kitchen as it is for a boardroom (or Team meeting). Wearing clothing designed for use in a busy and hazard-filled kitchen is just as much about safety as it is about looks. Form and function work together.
Chef Knives and Knife Storage
No matter the size or location of your kitchen, not the types of foods you prepare, it’s imperative to have a reliable set of knives and the proper place to store them. If you must take your blades with you between classes proper storage will extend the life of your knives and keep them safe. Knife rolls are perfect for busy students.
Don’t feel like you need to have one of every type of knife to start, check with your school about minimum expectations, then build your collection as you can afford it and once you determine which food direction your education takes you.
Our Chef Knives Buying Guide can help you choose.
Pots and Pans
Although your classroom may have pots and pans of every shape and size available to use during sessions, it makes sense to have some of the basic pieces at home for practice. Again, it’s a matter of how much space you have available and what you like to cook. One size from each category below is a great start and you can build your collection as space and budget allow.
Food Pans and Bun Pans
Food pans and bun bans are essential pieces of equipment in every professional kitchen. With multiple sizes available and the ability to move through all the stages between prep and service, you always run out of clean pans before you run out ways they can help.
A full size pan may be unwieldy for home (or tiny apartment) use but with so many sizes available you can find ones that will fit.
Trying to figure out all of the sizes, materials and features? Our food pan and bun pan buying guides can help.
You may get to the point where your muscle memory knows exactly how 2 oz of dough feels in your palm or by touching a chicken breast can determine its doneness, but until then, having accurate measuring tools close at hand are needed as part of your chef school supplies. Even fully trained chefs, with decades of experience, rely on the accuracy and consistency you can only achieve by measuring ingredients.
Chef Hand Tools
Glamourous they are not, but these simple hand tools used by professional chefs nationwide are indispensable for food preparation.
- Spatulas – rubber, silicone and metal
- Pastry Brush
- Spoons – metal, wooden
- Bench Scraper
If you are a culinary arts student eagerly preparing to start your program, beginning to dream about attending chef school or looking to up your cooking game at home, this list of chef equipment and tools is sure to get you started on the right and delicious path.