By Stephen Sands and Pete Snaith
Co-owners and Chefs
Culinaria Cooking School
What are the most important things to have in your kitchen? This is a question that students ask me all the time because good tools, as they instinctively know, are essential to good cooking.
Following is a list of my Top 10 Must-Haves.
The list goes on, and I’ll be sharing those thoughts and tips in upcoming issues. But for now, if you are a novice chef, do be sure to have these in your repertoire.
1. Knives. Whether you are a home cook or a professional chef, a good set of knives is essential in any kitchen. Buy the best you can afford. Make sure they are well made and easy to keep sharp for quick de-boning, slicing, and quick general prep.
2. Planer/zester. This tool makes the finest lemon/orange/lime zest, plus it will create the most fabulously grated Parmesan cheese on the face of the planet. It is also ideal for creating finely shaved chocolate pieces, which you can use to decorate desserts.
3. Silicone spatulas. High heat resistance and excellent flexibility make these spatulas a must-have for both cooking and baking.
4. Stick blender. High-speed, low-cost, and easy to use, a stick blender makes spectacular salad dressings and purees soups with minimum effort.
5. Citrus squeezer. This handy juice reducer makes quick work of oranges, lemons, and limes, turning them into perfect pools that add flavor to any dish. All without the seeds.
6. Silicone pastry brushes. Great for brushing pastry dough, applying glaze, or buttering casseroles and ramekins, these brushes are easy to clean—and best of all, no brush hairs get into the food.
7. Instant-read thermometer. This is very important because it assures food safety and helps you avoid overcooking the main dish. Use it regularly to determine the internal temperature of meat, fish, and poultry.
8. Mini food prep. This tool is perfect for quickly chopping small quantities of nuts, herbs, peppercorns, and other tiny items.
9. Heavy-duty tongs. Tongs are absolutely necessary for sautéing and general handling of food. Get a pair of both long and short ones.
10. And last but not least, the “Y,” or bow, peeler. It is essential to have a peeler that is comfortable to use and sharp and will handle both delicately skinned and tough-skinned vegetables. It is also excellent for making chocolate and cheese curls.
Are you ready to ramp up your cooking skills?
Then join us for a class at Culinaria Cooking School, which officially opens its doors this month. You are invited to attend the Grand Opening on Sunday, Sept. 26. For details and directions, visit us at www.culinariacookingschool.com.
Our schedule of fall classes includes:
Cooking Classes: Knife Skills; Cooking 101; Soups, Stocks & Sauces; Advanced Classes; Culinaria Laboratorio; Baking & Pastry
Regional, Ethnic, and International classes: American, Asian, French, Italian, Thai
Series Classes: Flavors of Tuscany, Regions of Italy, California Cuisine
Individual Sessions: The Dinner Party, Sushi, Pasta, Pizza
Wine, anyone? Our wine director John Peters is a master at teaching students the fine art of enjoying wine. His mantra is “wine is fun,” and John doesn’t let anyone forget that wine is to be shared with friends and family. We know you’ll appreciate his thoughtful, common-sense approach.
Wine Classes include: Introduction to Wine; Varietal Classes: Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, & Pinot Grigio; International Wines: Italian, French, Spanish, & South American; Wine from the U.S.: California, Oregon, & Washington State; and Wine and Food Dinners.
Specialty Classes include: Child and Parent Classes, Classes for Teens, Couples Cooking Class, Ladies Lunch Bunch, Seasonal and Holiday Entertaining, Classes with Well-Known Chefs, and Weekend Workshops.
Private Events: Try a group cooking class for your next corporate or private event—birthday parties, bridal showers, corporate events, private parties, and team building.
Summer Camp: Our half-day camp for kids and teens goes beyond typical summer camp fare. Campers explore international and American cuisines in programs that teach them essential cooking skills and how to maneuver in today’s modern kitchen. Plus, our enthusiastic staff helps them learn how fun cooking and entertaining can be.
Sign up here: www.culinariacookingschool.com.
About Stephen Sands
Co-founder and CEO
Culinaria Cooking School
Stephen began his culinary career in 1989 as the lead assistant for Francois Dionot, the director and founder of L’Academie de Cuisine in Bethesda, MD. Stephen assisted both L’Academie chefs, and visiting guest chefs, ensuring the execution of classes for the chefs was seamless; and assisted students in the participation classes with instruction and techniques during classes.
He graduated from L’Academie de Cuisine’s part-time professional program in 1996 and began teaching as a chef/instructor at the school. There he developed curricula and original recipes for the classes he taught. Stephen taught both demonstration and participation classes and also instructed L’Academie’s private parties and team-building events.
In 2004, Stephen formed Capital Food Partners LLC, along with his business partner Pete Snaith, as a cooking school and catering company. He left L’Academie de Cuisine as a chef/instructor in the spring of 2009 and retired in March 2010 after working for 35 years as a nuclear engineer working for Westinghouse, Exxon, and NRC to pursue the development of the Culinaria Cooking School.
About Pete Snaith
Co-founder and Executive Vice President
Culinaria Cooking School
An engineer by training, Pete began his cooking career in 1999 when he started taking classes at L’Academie de Cuisine. There, he met his business partner Stephen Sands, wine expert John Peters, and Chef Robyn Alexander. It is also where he took his first 12-week intensive cooking course, following by a 20-week professional course. Pete then worked as an assistant at L’Academie for three years.
In 2007, he trained at the Culinary Institute of Florence, Italy. There, he learned from some of Europe’s top chefs—including Chef Andrea Trapani, who also worked at the James Beard House in New York City; and Chef Jonathan Krinn during the opening of his Restaurant 2941. Pete also was asked to teach at the institute, and has subsequently taught cooking classes at the Center for Culinary Arts in Manila, Sur la Table in Arlington, and La Cuisine in Alexandria.
Pete is also the author of The Street Chef, a cookbook that sold in the U.S., Canada, England, Russia, Philippines, and Italy.