You’ve run test kitchens for companies like Food Network and currently work in recipe development at HelloFresh. How do you think about setting up a test kitchen vs. a home kitchen?
It’s pretty similar if you are someone who loves to cook or at least does it with some frequency. Start with a stocked pantry and freezer. Keep a good inventory in your fridge and make sure you have essential tools. Keep it as spotless as you can, and most importantly, organization is key!
What would someone expect to see in 19-year-old Claudia’s kitchen? How would that be different than your kitchen today?
It would be VERY different! Back in those days I was working around the clock in a restaurant. My kitchen was pretty sparse—I rarely cooked at home. Coffee and milk were essential, a few good quick snack items, and that was about it. Times have certainly changed! I always keep a well-stocked pantry and kitchen now, and try to cook / prepare meals at home as much as I can—especially on the weekends when I have the time!
Claudia Sitodi’s Top Ten Kitchen Essentials
1. Food processor: A food processor is one of the most underutilized kitchen appliances that has way more uses than meets the eye! Most people only use it when they think they have a lot of chopping, but it’s actually great for so much more—everything from making salad dressing to puréeing soup, mixing pie dough or cookie dough, and, of course, chopping anything.
2. A set of good chef knives: Less accidents happen when you’re cutting and prepping vegetables or proteins with a good quality sharp knife. Additionally, you want to have the right knife for different kinds of prep. You don’t want to try to chop your veggies with a paring knife, nor use a serrated knife when prepping items like steak, chicken, or fish. Get a good set, care for them, make sure you sharpen them regularly, and they too should last a long time.
3. Cutting board: Having a solid wood cutting board like the John Boos wood board, really gives your kitchen a chef-like feel and it’s handy to have on the counter at all times so that you can prep fruit and veggies quickly. Add in a few plastic ones for your meat and fish! They’re more flexible so that you can carry them over the sink for easy cleanup and reduce the risk of cross-contamination.
4. Cast iron skillet: The trick to a great steak is getting the perfect sear and nothing does the trick better than a good, hot cast-iron skillet. Plus, if you care for them, they get better over time and last forever!
5. Large wooden salad bowl and spoons: Salads make the perfect addition to any meal or the main dish. Having a large wooden salad bowl with a good set of spoons is great because it gives you enough space for tossing and it instantly dresses up the presentation for a beautiful tablescape in any season.