Part of having an effective chef’s bag is being prepared to cook anything in any kitchen. However, the kind of food you intend to cook can determine the best tools to have in your bag. Here is a list of some chef bag essentials specific to two different chef industries, Baking and Barbecuing.
For the Baker
As a baker or a pâtissier, your primary task will usually involve desserts. However, there are many other foods that you can make, such as loaves of bread, biscuits, and pastries.
If you find joy in baking then chances are you’ll need to know what tools to bring along in your chef bag.
For many chefs having one on hand spatula can be enough in the kitchen, but for the baker not only is it an essential tool, but there are also different kinds as well.
- Silicone / Rubber Spatula
Bakers will want to keep on hand at least two silicon or rubber spatulas for blending and scraping ingredients in your mixing bowls. They usually come standard as part of any kitchen utensil set and will easily fit in the pocket for utensils in your chef bag.
- Metal Spatula
Another common spatula that is good to have as a baker is a metal spatula. This can be used for serving your pastries. Since this will be a more bulky item, be sure your utensil pocket is large enough to accommodate your metal spatula before storing it in your chef bag.
- Bench Scraper
An often overlooked essential tool is the bench scraper. It provides a great way to scoop up chopped ingredients, ices cakes evenly, and can even clean up your work station after you’ve made a mess. Many bakers agree that this is one of their favorite tools to have on hand and with its flat shape, it is easily stored in your chef bag.
While most kitchens today will probably have some form of an electric mixer, as a baker you’ll want to keep some handheld mixing options in your bag.
The most common mixer that a baker will need is a whisk. Coming in either silicon or metal they are great for whisking your ingredients to the right consistency. They also come in various sizes making them an easy tool to pack inside your chef bag.
- Pastry Blender / Cutter
While a whisk can be used by many different chefs, the pastry blender is more specific to bakers. This versatile tool comes in handy when handling the dough. It helps prevent the dough from becoming squished or over-worked. It is also useful for mashing eggs or fruit. With a slightly odd shape be sure that your chef bag has the space for it.
As many bakers will tell you, baking can be like science which is why you have to ensure everything is done perfectly. In order to do that you’ll want to make sure you have these measuring tools in your bag.
- Measuring Cups and Spoons
While many chefs use measuring cups and spoons regularly, for a baker it is imperative. Adding the correct amount of flour or spices can change how an entire dessert tastes. A cheap plastic set of measuring cups and spoons is your best option for your chef bag.
- Candy Thermometer
While a candy thermometer is only really necessary when making candy it is essential to have a digital thermometer as a baker. Much like how measuring ingredients can drastically change the outcome of your dessert, so can the temperature. There are many travel size options available that can fit in your chef bag.
While bakers may not have much of a need for every kind of knife out there, there are still a few that prove useful and should be in your chef bag.
- Palette Knife
A common tool used by bakers is the palette knife or icing spatula. These are long and flat with an off-set knife shape and are primarily used for icing cakes. Due to its resemblance to a knife, it can be stored in the same pocket as your knives in your chef bag.
- Bread Knife
If you are a baker that likes making loaves of bread or thick pastries then you’ll want to make sure to have a bread knife in your bag. A bread knife has a serrated edge perfect for cutting through the crust, but not damaging the bread or pastry. An essential tool made specifically for bakers.
The Final Touch
Most desserts aren’t complete without some kind of embellishment. In order to make your cakes and pastries pop it is good to have the following tools and gadgets in your chef’s bag.
- Pastry Decorating Tips
A quality set of decorating tips can be an essential tool for any baker. When decorating cakes, cupcakes, and pastries having uniform delivery is paramount. Be sure that any set you pack in your chef bag has extra pastry bags that are compatible with the size of your pastry tips.
- Crème Brulee Torch
For a more exotic approach perhaps you can use a Crème Brulee Torch to finish your dessert. While not a standard gadget to have it can not only be fun but useful for the chef that knows how to use it.
When deciding what chef’s bag to purchase for your baking needs it is probably a good idea to go with a bigger size, either a messenger bag or backpack is recommended. This will ensure you can carry all the items you’ll need in the kitchen.
For the Griller
If you are the type of person that gets asked to cook at backyard barbecues then having the right kind of tools is essential. While there isn’t a large variety of tools you’ll need like the baker, the ones you need are still essential.
When selecting a spatula to grill with it is good to go with one that is long-handed with an off-set handle. This ensures that you can get under the meat on your grill every time while reducing your chances of feeling the heat on your hands and arms.
The best spatulas to use on a grill are either silicone or metal, where they work best on fish or other delicate foods that need a quick flip. Similar to the baker you’ll want to store your spatula in the utensil pouch of your chef’s bag depending on the size.
Tongs are probably the most versatile grilling tool you can have in your arsenal. They can go from turning vegetables to hotdogs with no problem. When selecting a good pair for your grill, be sure to go for the long-handed tongs. Again, this is to allow you some safe distance from the heat without compromising your cooking. Coming in easy travel sizes makes it a perfect tool to include in your chef’s bag.
Part of ensuring your meal is grilled to perfection is making sure it is cooked at the right temperature. A handy instant-read meat thermometer is a perfect tool to help with that very thing. Most meat thermometers are portable making them an easy addition to your chef’s bag.
Part of keeping your grill and those who eat the food off it healthy is by keeping it clean with a good grill brush. It is always good practice to pre-heat your grill and give it a good scrubbing before cooking. Brass-bristle brushes are good as they won’t damage the enamel finish on the grates of the grill. Depending on the size this is an essential tool that can easily be carried in your chef bag.
Basting brushes are a good way to brush sauces on the food you have cooking on the grill. This can give your meal some added flavor as well as keep it moist. Most basting brushes are small and can be stored in the utensil pocket of your chef’s bag, just be sure to clean it first.
When selecting the best chef bag for your grilling needs you’ll probably want to go for something that can hold all your long tools. A roll might be a good option for you or even a backpack if you want to go bigger.
The fact is the essential tools you use in the kitchen can change based on the food you are planning to cook. However, most kitchen tools can be essential depending on your personal preferences as well. You can mix and match until you find the right combination for you.