Too Many Cooks: Prized Kitchen Possession

July 31, 2013

You'll be hearing from the staff at Food52 every week in Too Many Cooks, our group column in which we pool our answers to questions about food, cooking, life, and more.

We've been talking a lot about Provisions lately. But that's only because we're so incredibly excited. A meal is about ingredients and technique, of course, but there's also a lot to say for the tools you use to put that meal together, and how you decide to present it. We know that everything we'll be selling -- from jars to cake servers to pots -- could become your new favorite kitchen possession. And in light of looking ahead, we've decided to look back. This week we asked our team:

What's your most prized kitchen possession?

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Is it a serving bowl passed down through generations? Kitschy salt and pepper shakers? Your cast-iron skillet that grows more seasoned with age? Tell us in the comments!


Bryce: My KitchenAid stand mixer in cherry red, given to me by my boyfriend. And my chef's knife given to me by my pops.

Lauren: The recipe box that Grannie Bet put together for me, complete with her notes on certain recipes, like "I have not made this, but it looks decadent!"

Amanda: This is a difficult one -- I love a lot of things in my kitchen. I've written about the bone-handle forks that everyone in my family has, so for this one, I'm going with the white Le Creuset braiser that our upstairs neighbors gave us as a welcome gift when we moved into our building. It's a wonderful pan and reminds me of them, and how they taught us the importance of being great neighbors.

Marian: The summer after I graduated from high school, I did a 30-day backpacking course in Wyoming, and carved my own wooden spoon. It's hidden away in a drawer somewhere, and doesn't get much use (it's tiny), but it's the only tool in my kitchen that I've made by hand, and I'm proud of it.

Vitamix on Food52

Bea: I got a Vitamix from my parents as a college graduation gift and it is by far one of my most prized possessions! I have lugged that machine from apartment to apartment. It's so versatile: I can make hot or cold soups, smoothies, and margaritas; I grind my own flour; I make soy milk; the list goes on and on!

Allen: I'm gonna have to go with the Hario V60 that's perfect for pour-over coffee with freshly ground coffee beans. The best part about it is there's nothing to clean up!

Peter: It's not much to look at, but I'd have to say the massive tropical hardwood salad bowl my parents bought on their honeymoon in Jamaica almost 51 years ago.

Christina: My Grandma's Madeleine pans.

Emma: Unfortunately, being a college student, I have yet to acquire many prized kitchen possessions; my roommates and I share a lot of Ikea home goods. For now, I'd say this mug, which I can keep in my room all to myself. Things I am most excited to become prized kitchen possessions (hopefully): my very own Kitchen Aid stand mixer, preferably in cream; a cast-iron skillet; and the enamel we'll be selling in Provisions.

Hannah: Now that I have a "kitchenette" at best, I'd have to say my toaster oven. It doubles as my real oven (don't tell my landlord!), and convection bakes like a champ.

Sarah: I don't have a kitchen (or anything close to it) at school, but my roommate and I just got a great deal on an 11-cup food processor. We're going to keep it in our common room and make nut milk, smoothies, and soups all year long.

Maggie: I'm hopping on the college student no-kitchen bandwagon, but I do have a very impressive mug collection. I swear by this one.

Dutch Oven from Food52

Jason: My Le Creuset oval dutch oven. I basically only use it to make this.

Brette: My Caribbean Le Creuset braiser! Also my pink mug with fake lipstick stains all over it that says "Another Year Older, Another Year Sexier."

Kenzi: My giant spoon collection. I have a spoon problem. Also my Le Creuset Dutch oven that my mom gave me this past Christmas; I use that thing like it's going out of style.

Jennifer: I'm on team Le Creuset -- I love the way it browns for a braise!

Cranberry-Molasses Pudding with Vanilla Hard Sauce

Merrill: A collection of ceramic molds that my mother passed down to me a few years ago.

Maddy: I have a fondness for bowls. There's the Ralph Lauren hardwood salad bowl that we inherited-slash-never-returned to my husband's mother (hoping she's not reading this...), and a 10-inch Deruta DiPinto bowl in this style that we picked up in Florence this spring.

Lindsay: My cheap santoku knife. Not a day goes by without it being put to work. (Although I wouldn't mind if it magically became a fancy santoku knife -- it's not that prized.) (I also wouldn't mind having neighbors like Amanda's.)

Amelia: Can it be my most treasured if I never use it? For my college graduation, my friend bought me a really beautiful vintage angel food cake cutter. I love it, but I haven't had a chance to use it yet. Maybe I'll have to make some cake soon.

Amanda Li: My hand-me-down Wusthof knife from my Mom, and this awesome nonstick Calphalon omelette pan that I use daily.

Karl: Perhaps not "prized", but I end up using our cast iron skillet as much as anything else; it works great on the stove or in the oven.

Gabriella: My collection of huge, bowl-sized mugs that I use to drink and eat pretty much everything out of. (Runner up: This set of hologram cat cups my sister bought me a few years ago.)

Kristen: It doesn't get as much play as my favorite knife or pot, but I'm very fond of this Sandra Boynton mug my mom gave me, with a parade of cartoon bears holding balloons that say "I love you" and a secret pun on the inside. It looks like this.

Amanda: We obviously needed to do a TMC about everyone's favorite mug.

You'll soon be able to pick up new kitchen heirlooms from Provisions. In the meantime, tell us: What kitchen possession do you most treasure?

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Jenna S
    Jenna S
  • ChefJune
  • Dorothy
  • arcane54
  • dymnyno
Emma Wartzman

Written by: Emma Wartzman


Jenna S. August 9, 2013
A long-handled stainless steel spoon that my grandfather used to cook big pots of gumbo, jambalaya, and other Cajun favorites.
ChefJune August 1, 2013
I have a few... I have my Grandma Jacobs' poultry shears and her chopping bowl. She passed in 1968, so those are "genuine" antiques I use regularly. My mom gave me a little porcelain cheese/ginger grater that says "Blessed are the Good Cooks." She was one of the great cooks, and for me that was such a huge compliment.
Dorothy August 1, 2013
I have a very old pot my dad used almost daily, the type that has tiny bumps on the outside (can't think of the brand name), which I use constantly. I also use several pieces of his cast iron. One more thing I use every single day is a very long wooden spoon. I use it to stir my gallon batches of ice tea with and it has earned a very pretty patina through years of use.
arcane54 August 1, 2013
I have a fewtoo: my great-grandmother's aluminum measuring cup; my mom's incredibly heavy cast iron skillet that yielded many batches of her famous chili; and the cake decorating kit my dad bought when he retired. Yes, he took a cake decorating class at 67!
dymnyno July 31, 2013
I have a "few" mortars and pestles, but one is very special because it belonged to my great grandmother. It is white marble and the inside is smooth as silk because my mother only used it for the farm cats' milk. About a hundred generations of cats and kittens polished the inside of that bowl.
Hannah O. July 31, 2013
My twin loaf pans. Ordinary, dinged-up, stained 9x13 loaf pans. The ones I used in my parents' home to bake bread, the first thing I ever made in any kitchen, anywhere. The ones I still use now, that take me back to that kitchen, no matter where I am.
EternalNadja July 31, 2013
The rolling pin my uncle made for my maternal grandmother and my paternal grandmothers' molcajete and vintage grater.
aargersi July 31, 2013
Oh Maddy, we really need to somehow get together for a Things In Bowls party. Mine goes a tad past fondness and is more a sort of uncontrolled obsession. I have planned food for parties around the bowls that I want to use. It's not normal.
healthierkitchen July 31, 2013
Maddy - we went to that same shop in Florence this spring! Nicest woman who runs it! We went with a piece in a very non traditional dark red with black and pale blue accents.