In just two short years, Rainey Street darling Emmer & Rye has made the interesting combination of in-house fermentation and butchering, house-milled heritage grains and dim-sum carts both popular and something to watch. And some of the big guns that have taken notice are Texas Monthly, Food & Wine, The New York Post and Bon Appétit, to name a few. Good friends Executive Chef Kevin Fink and Pastry Chef Tavel Bristol-Joseph took a little time off from polishing and arranging awards to describe their personal go-to/must-have kitchen items.
1. Wood cutting board. Don’t use your wood board to cut on, Silly. It’s meant for bread dough, pastry dough, making pasta or deadening sound when you’re using a cleaver. Wood is a special surface—it allows for moisture to be worked out of things. Wood boards require more care, but don’t all things that are nice?
2. Fluted brass pasta cutter. There is something special about how brass interacts with dough—it makes your cuts very clean but more porous and rough, as well. This allows for more interaction with the pasta sauce and a more complete dish. I brought my cutter back from Italy years ago and it’s used for all our fluted pasta.
3. Kuhn Rikon vegetable peeler. It’s a professional cook’s tool for making things look nice—a good peeler makes any job faster and cleaner. Sauces will be less dirty, plates will look more professional and shavings are great for other things.
4. Joyce Chen scissors. They are small, sharp and come with a lifetime warranty. Joyce Chen scissors are great for foraging herbs, cutting fish fins and rabbit bones and everything in between. I love them for how compact they are; they’re also pretty—but not over-the-top—and incredibly versatile. They also help to cut your tape: Labeling and clean angles might not be sexy, but they help define a cook who cares more about the total project than just the dish.
1. Vintage quenelle spoon. A quenelle is an egg-shaped serving of food—ice cream, sorbet, mashed potatoes, fish, pâté, etc.—usually created using one or two spoons. This spoon was given to me on my birthday by a mentor and pastry chef, George McKirdy. I’ve treasured this spoon for more than 12 years—it has been through a lot with me, from plating at special events to cooking at home. I love it!
2. “Professional Baking,” Volume One. Written by Wayne Gisslen, this book is the whole foundation for most of the recipes that I’ve developed over the years. It was given to me by the New York Restaurant School on my first day of orientation. The reason why I think this book is so special is because the recipes are basic, easy to understand and the dishes are great; it’s a good foundation to create your own recipes.
3. Amco rust-proof stainless-steel measuring spoons. I remember getting these measuring spoons at a wine dinner I did in New York while working at The River Café as a pastry cook. What drew me to the spoons was the shape and weight of them. Everyone that worked the event had the opportunity to pick a wine bottle opener or the measuring spoons. These spoons are amazing! I feel like it has changed my measuring game from the first time I used them.
4. Misono UX10 chef knife. This knife is a workhorse—I use it pretty much every day to cut everything from cakes and tarts to fruits and vegetables. I’m embarrassed to say it took me a long time to buy myself a good chef knife. Now I can’t see myself in any kitchen without my knife. The funny thing about this knife is that I almost didn’t buy it. But after some convincing from my chef friend, Kevin, I decided to purchase the knife the day before I was going to do a one-day stage at a well-known restaurant. I was expecting to stage in the pastry department, but when I got there, they placed me in the prep station for the entire day. I used my brand-new chef knife to do most of the work. Thank God! By the end of the day, I fell in love with the knife and never looked back.