Professional cook that is, not bride. I have yet to cross that particular threshold (ahem.) But I do know an awful lot about what you simply must have in your kitchen and those fun things that you might not buy out of your own salary, but would sign up to receive! I worked in kitchen retail for years and also had the opportunity to try out a lot of products. I know what’s good and what looks good but isn’t actually good. Good.
So the way I want to organize this is by necessity. I’ll have three tiers: first, the must haves. Second, good things to have. Third, fun things to have. Not every couple getting married is moving into a space with massive amounts of storage, so it’s better to sort of start with the stuff that you need and think about what you can really use and fit. If you are lucky enough to be moving into a large home or, like me, just have a lot of kitchen stuff already, go ahead and register for the less practical.
A few tips: really think about what you register for. Nothing is more frustrating than when brides would come in with thousands of dollars of stuff that they changed their mind about, or decided they wanted store credit for. If you want the couch from the sister furniture store, don’t register for stuff you can return at the kitchen store for credit. Register for gift cards at the furniture store. Also, to the friends and family of the registrees: if a registry has things on it that aren’t to your taste, don’t worry about it! Buy the couple what they registered for, not stuff you think they want or you would want! Guess what happens when you decide you know better than the bride and groom. They return your gift. And then act awkward around you FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE! Ain’t nobody got time for that.
That said, here’s my first tier. Stay tuned tomorrow for the second tier.
Cookware: Register for it piece by piece, rather than all in one big set. It makes it more affordable for your guests that way, and then if you want to return it because it has a ding in it or something, you are more likely to be able to find a replacement. There just aren’t as many large sets kept in stock at most stores.
You really need several key pieces:
I’m not going to tell you exactly which brand of each to buy; that’s up to you. But there are 6 pieces of cookware you absolutely need, as outlined above. These are very basic, but you’ll be able to do simple cooking. If you are an accomplished home cook and want to make your own stocks, by all means get a stock pot (but you can get a great one at a restaurant supply for like, 1/4 the price). Or a griddle if you want to do big breakfasts. But for the most part, this is it. Do not buy or register for all nonstick cookware. You won’t be able to get the same outcome as with stainless. You need one nonstick pan for eggs or pancakes, but not a whole set.
Brands I Love: Staub (cast iron), All Clad, Demeyere, Calphalon (nonstick), Williams Sonoma & Sur La Table House Brands, Kitchen Aid (budget).
Cutlery: Again, registering by the piece can be a more budget friendly option for your guests. However, there are several starter sets that aren’t too expensive. The most important thing that you can do when registering for cutlery is to actually go into the store and try out the knives. I know most of the high end kitchen stores will let you do this, and have great people with a lot of knowledge. (Houston people: go see Lilly at Williams Sonoma in Highland Village!!) Anyway, holding the knife gives you a feel for the weight distribution, handle size, length, etc. Sometimes the ones that feel the best are not the ones you thought you would end up with. Knife sets aside, here are the specific types you really need:
And that’s really it. I mean, I love a good santoku knife but not everyone does. For more info on what all the different knives do, check out my earlier post.
Brands I Love: Wusthof, Shun, Zwilling, Kuhn Rikon, Victorinox.
Electrics: This is where you can sort of go for the higher end, splurge pieces for your family and close friends to buy. Look, I know it can feel sort of like you are a spoiled brat asking for expensive items but those that love you WANT to spend the money to celebrate your wedding. Trust me. I had more people get frustrated that there weren’t enough big ticket items on their, say, nephew’s registry. So go for the high end mixer; ask for a Vitamix even! Then you’ll never have to buy another blender in your life. Even if you don’t receive it, chances are you will have enough gift cards and returned item credit to buy it eventually anyway. Plus, some stores give you a registry completion discount for the months surrounding your wedding, making things like this more affordable.
So the slow cooker is great for newlyweds without a lot of time for dinner; you can throw stuff in it, forget about it, and come back later. Blammo. Dinner’s done. Plus, Pinterest has about 342 million slow cooker recipes. The stand mixer is just something everyone wants. It’s a statement piece. Go with Kitchen Aid. It’s the only brand that really stands the test of time. As far as blenders go, just make sure it has ice crushing capability. If you feel like you want to register for a Vitamix, please do. It’s the best thing that is out there for kitchens, hands down. Look it up. Finally, a food processor. If you go through my recipes on here, you’ll see that I totally depend on it. Just makes life easier.
Brands I Love: Cuisinart (slow cooker, food processor), Breville (everything), Vitamix, All Clad (slow cooker), Magimix (food processor)
Finally, the last group of absolutely MUST have kitchen tools:
Cooks Tools: So this section is sort of obvious, and you might have some of these already, but why not register for newer, better ones.
Get some great tongs; they should last a long time and be at least 12″ long. Too short and you can’t use them for grilling, reaching in the oven, etc. Also, you need at least one microplane zester. These are handheld graters that you can use for zesting citrus, grating parmesan, chocolate, whole nutmeg, etc. Super useful. I also love the Microplane brand box grater – it has 4 sides and is very comfortable to use. You’ll want some great peelers, and now you can get sets with a straight edge peeler, a serrated peeler, and a julienne peeler. Finally, some offset spatulas. The one pictured here is rather wide; good for flipping eggs or steak or fish. The narrow ones are great for icing cakes.
Brands I Love: Microplane, Rosle, Wilton (icing spatula), OXO, Chef’n, Swissmar (peelers).
Finally, if there is one more absolutely essential gadget I can recommend, it’s a good can opener! OXO makes one that gives you a flat edge and it is fantastic.
Stay tuned for tomorrow, when I post about items that are slightly less essential and a little more whimsical!