Home Decor

Alice Waters' 15 Essential Tools

September  1, 2015

As home cooks, we rely on our instincts, our knowledge, and our curiosities—but we also have to rely on our tools. Which is why we're asking the experts about the essential tools we need to make our favorite foods attainable in our own kitchens.

Today: When Alice Waters—of Edible Schoolyard Project and Chez Panisse fame—gets into her own kitchen, here are the tools she reaches for. For more tools that she loves, explore her full curated collection for our Shop.

My Pantry

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Alice Waters has been at the forefront of the food movement since before there was even a "food movement"—she's just always believed in good food. And her good food gospel has spread, giving us Genius recipes, a reinvigorated passion for carefully prepared dishes that reflect what's in season locally, and, with Edible Schoolyard, a pro-delicious movement that she described to us in 2013 as "coming back to our senses." 

Her latest book is My Pantry (available now in our Shop!), a collection of recipes and essays that was illustrated by her daughter Fanny Singer. My Pantry is perhaps the perfect summary of what Alice Waters has taught us: With the subtitle "Homemade Ingredients That Make Simple Meals Your Own," the book is meant to be a tool to help us come back to our own kitchen senses—to feel out and embrace our pantries, our skills as cooks, and the meals and tools that make our kitchens ours.

Alice and AmandaAlice Waters and Amanda Hesser at the Food52 kitchens in 2013

What tools does Alice Waters reach for when she's in her own kitchen or pantry? Here are her 15 essential tools—for more tools she loves, check out the collection she curated for our Shop:

French Market Tote
I use this basket every day! I take it to the restaurant with my papers and always to the farmers market.

Benriner Mandolin
This is an indispensable slicer. I make raw vegetable salads so easily and beautifully!

Divided Airtight Container
When my daughter was young, I packed her lunch in a container just like this. I take it on the plane for myself when I travel. 

Le Parfait 35 Ounce Bail Closure Canning Jar (set of 2)
A pantry becomes more beautiful when you can see the ingredients and everything is tightly sealed.

Staub Large Cast Iron Oval Roasting Dishes
The beauty of this dish is that it can go straight from the oven to the table.


Baking Steel
There is nothing like a heavy baking sheet that holds heat well, especially for making pizza with a perfect crust, or flatbreads and pancakes cooked on top of the stove.

Peugeot “Paris” U'Select Pepper Mill
A simply designed pepper grind that really works is so important. I've had my Peugeot for decades! 

Slate-Blue Kitchen Apron
I love indigo blue. This apron is sturdy and doesn't show spots.


Molded Hexagonal 12” Candle Gift Set
I use candlesticks like these every night on my dining table.

Ball Jar Canning Kit 
Canning is such a wonderful and easy way to preserve the beautiful ripe fruits and vegetables from a season. You only need the right tools! 

Vintage French Porcelain Soup Bowls
Soup bowls are not just for soup. I use them for a pasta, a salad, or an ice cream dessert.  

Japanese Mortar and Pestle
The mortar and pestle is one of the most important tools in my kitchen. I take it when I travel, too!

Large Compostable Wooden Plates
These little plates can be used over and over again and then composted in your garden.


Mason Cash Mixing Bowl
This very American bowl might just be my favorite. It's heavy enough, with a subtle mustard-colored glaze that fits in any kitchen.

Medium Farmer's Pitcher
I think pitchers are underused. You just need one that is beautiful to look at and not too small. I often use mine for flowers.

Photos of My Pantry, switchel in jar, and Japanese mortar and pestle by Bobbi Lin; photo of pizza stone, mixing bowl, and pitcher by Mark Weinberg; all others by James Ransom

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Dianne Jackson
    Dianne Jackson
  • PG Tipsy
    PG Tipsy
Food52 (we cook 52 weeks a year, get it?) is a food and home brand, here to help you eat thoughtfully and live joyfully.


Dianne J. September 19, 2016
This is supposed to be a list of Alice Waters favorite kitchen tools? I don't think so.
PG T. September 5, 2015
Check that - Clarissa!
PG T. September 5, 2015
"very American bowl"??? Sorry Alice, Mason Cash pottery originated in Derbyshire in approximately c. 1800. I first saw the wonderful bowls on the equally wonderful British cooking BBC programme (British spelling for effect) TWO FAT LADIES. RIP Jennifer & Clarrisa. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mason_Cash