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Friday, November 6, 2009

kitchen equipment

Many people ask me about kitchen equipment and many want to know if they need certain machines. So these are some basic, rudimentary ideas on how to equip a kitchen with a few notes about some basic equipment.

The simple answer to "do i need a high speed blender" or " do i need a rice cooker" are, if you are going to use it, yes, you need it. Some machines will open up possibilities that are perhaps, not possible without them. For example, a high speed blender will puree sauces and soups in ways that a regular household blender cannot. It will also pulverize cashews into cashew cream, opening up endless possibilities in regards to savory and sweet dishes. So this machine is probably a worthwhile investment if you want to make cream sauces, ice creams and certain soups or sauces. And thus it will be worth the several hundred dollar investment as it will give back for many years far more than you paid for it.
Good machines and equipment will make your life easier and your cooking skills and potential will expand as a result of a well equipped kitchen. Preparing food at home is far less expensive than eating out so these are all worthwhile investments that will easily pay for themselves. Some equipment such as soymilk makers will also allow your kitchen to be far more ecological than if you did not have one unless you already make these "milks" in other more traditional methods.

In my kitchen and in the recipes i am putting forth, you will find the following come up often, as you will in any serious kitchen:
high speed blender
stand mixer
pasta attachments for stand mixer
food processor
soymilk maker
rice cooker
pressure cooker
crepe pans
frying pans
sauce pans
stock pots
baking pans
roasting pans
muffin pans
cooking utensils
bar b q

The very first thing you will need is a knife and eventually a set of knives! People often remark at how many i have and ask if it is necessary. One only needs 2, actually. First, a good chef knife will allow you to do most basic cuts. So if you are only going to have one, this is the one i suggest. Learning to maintain a knife is one of the basic skills for anyone interested in cooking. For vegetarian cooking, you do not have to worry about any kind of boning knives or skills. A bread knife is necessay if you plan to cut bread as a chef knife cannot do this job. From here, you will want to eventually get a paring knife and perhaps more specialized knives such as santoku for vegetable preparations. A good cleaver is good for getting into hard vegetables such as pumpkins. The more you develop your knife skills and collection, the more creative your dishes will be.

Frying pans:
Cast iron is my preference and i have a set of various sizes that are used constantly. Copper and stainless steal pans are also exceptional.
Avoid aluminum and any kind of coated pans, non stick pans or any other gimmicks with large advertising budgets. Dow and Dupont corporations have no place in any serious, healthy kitchen!

Sauce pans and stock pots:
Depending on how many people you will be cooking for, sizes you need will vary.
I use stainless stell though copper is of course, exceptional though highly expensive. Same as frying pans, Avoid aluminum and all coated, processed crap. Take control of your health and do not use non stick coatings or other toxic gimmicks in your kitchen.

Pressure cookers:
These will save you time when preparing dried beans. Of course you are not going to be opening up cans of PVC beans, when you can simply save alot of money purchasing organic, dried beans and soaking them overnight and pressure cooking them. Fast, easy and safe to use and essential for any vegetarian kitchen since beans are an essential part of the vegetarian diet.
The Japanese and Swiss make the best ones! Stainless Steel is the way to go. Always avoid aluminum.

Crepe pans:
There are only 2 dishes i prepare that i use crepe pans for but i prepare them often enough to warrant this addition to my kitchen; thai style savory crepes and buckwheat crepes. This pan make turning and cooking crepes easier. Stainless steel and copper are preferred and of course, avoid aluminum and coated ones!

Rice Cooker:
Very difficult to find ones that have brown rice settings and also are stainless steel! Japanese and Koreans make exceptional, high quality rice cookers. To me this is a necessary part of any vegetarian kitchen since our diet employs a lot of whole grains. This machine opens up a stovetop space and ensures perfectly prepared grains every time.

Many exceptional ones of different styles on the market today. Many awful gimmicky ones as well. If you drink juice, this machine will pay for itself quickly. Add up the cost of juice you purchase that gets shipped all over the place, refrigerated and see how quickly you will save money and have a more ecological approach to your diet when you add a juicer to your kitchen!

for making dried fruits, veggie, tofu jerkey and it works well as an incubator for making homemade tempeh.

Soymilk maker:
Another key part of my kitchen and the answer to so many questions i get as to why my sauces and desserts taste so different. Freshly made soy, nut or other grain milks are amazing! They are so much less expensive and so far superior to the processed crap you can buy in cartons. Besides saving money, if you consume soy or rice or other "milks", think of all those cartons you are purchasing and then tossing out? Purchase regionally grown, organic grains, beans and nuts and make your own and stop consuming PVC. This is a great machine to help you on your way to liberating yourself from PVC :)

High Speed Blender:
The most used tool in my kitchen, by far! Never want to be without this. My renowned ice creams could not work without it.

Ice cream maker:
if you want to make sorbets and ice creams, then this tool is needed. Avoid the ones where you have to freeze the bowl!! Use ones with a built in freezer or one you need to use ice and salt. Who wants to live without ice cream? Who does not like freshly made versions of any flavor you can conjure up?

Stand Mixer:
If you are making doughs regularly, this is a great machine. My right hand is a mess due to 20 years of shakuhachi practice, so kneading is not very possible for me. Nonetheless, i make pastas of all types regularly as well as various types of breads so this machine is employed frequently. Kitchenaid has cornered the market on these for years but there are better, more expensive options, these days. Cheaper ones are just that, cheap and will not last, costing more in the long run.
I use a kitchenaid and have several different size pasta attachments for it. Exceptional for making sheets and a few different cuts of fresh noodles.

Muffin pans:
want to make muffins or the ultra trendy cupcakes? Well, you will need muffin pans then. use cast iron or stainless steel only. Avoid aluminum and all coated ones

Baking pans/roasting pans:
use high quality stainless steal only. avoid aluminum and all coated ones!

bar b q:
Some may ask, "what can a vegan chef prepare on a bar b q" and the simple answer is "far more than you can ever possibly imagine". marinated grilled vegetables alone has endless possibilities and of course all kinds of tofu burgers, tempeh burgers, black bean burgers, grilled corn, sweet potatos, need i go on?

Food Processor:
Another one that is only necessary if you are going to use it. But once you have it, things will open up for you. Avoid cheap and small ones as they will frustrate you beyond your imagination. There is a HUGE difference between cheaply made ones and ones by compaines such as Robot Coupe, not only in price but also in function and durability.

Cooking utensils:
Large spoons, spatulas, cooking chopsticks, etc. Use Stainless steel or non treated wood or non treated bamboo only. If you are using pressed/treated wood, when you stir a hot dish, you are adding that treatment to your food, perhaps a bad idea? Definitely avoid as plastic and kitchens are a bad pairing.

The main suggestion for kitchen equipment is never buy "cheap". When you buy cheap gadgets or cheaply made equipment, it will not work well, nor will it last long. Thus it will end up costing you far more as you will need to replace it with several more cheap ones or simply purchase a very well made, durable machine from one of the reputable companies.


  1. Thanks for posting such a detailed list!!

    Do you have a recommendation for a brand of soy milk maker? I had one years ago that was terrible, but I'm guessing they are much improved.

  2. i will upgrade this list over the next week or so.

    i use soymilk makers that i purchased from

    why anonymous? :)

  3. Hey Phil,

    Thanks for all the great articles & recipes. I'm curious why to avoid the kind of ice cream maker with a separate canister that must be frozen - is it toxic?


  4. they tend to defrost before the ice cream is finished, thus i found them to be rather annoyingly frustrating.

  5. Hey, Thanks for this great tip. Its really a magnificent information.

    Catering Sydney

  6. Thanks, I will look at that soy milk maker! So tired of buying all of those aseptic containers.

    Oh, and I only only posted as Anonymous because I don't have a blog or website of my own, so don't have one of the other accounts listed. Found out about the blog because I'm on your email list and took one of your excellent cooking classes a couple years ago!

  7. Hey Phil! Long time no chat. I never go on myspace anymore. How are your dinners going?

    Glad to see you are blogging! I started too :)

    I swear by the NHS knife for all the chef needs. Fagor is the best, inexpensive, safe pressure cooker I have found for home use.

  8. nice to hear from you Christy. i will check out your blog

  9. and the dinner/concerts are going great! come to one :)

  10. Nice post.........Keep it up dude.

    Party Hire Sydney

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  12. This blog is great! Any strong suggestions on a high speed blender? I was looking at the VitaMix 5200. Any others you might recommend that I look at? Anything less expendsive that does the job well?



  13. I was wondering the same thing. I was looking at the VitaMix and the Blendtec. Also, if you could only have one, what do you think is more important in a vegan kitchen: food processor or high speed blender? Thanks for you input!

  14. i use a Vitamix proprep blender. Expensive, yes! But i have used it practically every day for the 4 years i own it and it shows no sign of any wear, yet.

    As for what is more important a blender or food processor, that depends on what you are more likely to use. Any serious kitchen will need both, so i suggest getting the one you will use the most often, first and then save up for the next one.