WanaBe a ChefWhats in a Chefs Toolbox?

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WebFoodPros.com: WanaBe a Chef: Whats in a Chefs Toolbox?
By Boz (Boz) on Wednesday, December 03, 2003 - 10:31 am: Edit

Hi everyone,
This is my first post but I've read most of the others first. I'm switching careers from computers to food. I'm 29 and I start Forest park community college culinary program in St. Louis in January. Does anyone know anything about this program or jobs in general in St. Louis? I would like to get a kitchen job while going to school for experience.
My main question is some of the ads in the paper say bring your own toolbox. I am guessing this is normal just like an auto mechanic. What do you guys put in your toolbox's? Would it be helpful for me to go ahead and put one together?

Any tips would be helpful. I can't wait to get started.

Thanks for the answers,

By Corey (Corey) on Wednesday, December 03, 2003 - 02:01 pm: Edit

The toolbox is all the stuff you have collected during your career, i.e. Your tools. I started with a knife roll and a small toolbox, now I have a medium sized toolbox, chefs I have worked for have had a huge one, when you get a new tool you put it in the box, soon you get so many tools you get a bigger box. also, I did learn thou, If you put your knives in a toolbox, Get Blade Protectors, otherwise also carry a first aid kit. I also learned this the hard way, I reached into my box and whipped out my favorite serated meat slicer and then was wondering why one of the pads on my finger was missing, err, the muscle pads, thank god it was just skin and it all grew back, a little smaller thou, but it's back. err, never did find the pad thou. since you are a new cook you can start with any size toolbox you would like.

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Wednesday, December 03, 2003 - 04:11 pm: Edit

Always remember though, don't fool with your tool(s)!
A tool box is helpful when you are a cook, always remember to take it with you when you quit a job ticked off though! I remember leaving my first tool box at a job after quitting this job that the "interim" Chef was a real di#&!!!!!
I blew $500-600, and that was in the eighties so today that would be like $1500-1800!
The main thing is, take care of your tools, also you should get that job first and then decide if cooking is what you really want to do! Why waste time and $$$$!!!!!

By George (George) on Wednesday, December 03, 2003 - 07:21 pm: Edit

Along the same line as Manny don't blow a lot of bucks on stuff you think you need but will never use.

Just start with the basics and build as the job tasks dictate.

Very very basics- Chef knife, paring knife, a good peeler (you will probally be using it a lot) heavy duty tongs and a good spatula.

Good luck!


By Boz (Boz) on Wednesday, December 03, 2003 - 08:15 pm: Edit

Thanks guys
I worked in a kitchens in high school although that was over ten years ago, and my mom owned a pastry shop in Arkansas for a while. I would have stayed then, but went in search of the big money, computers, and then realized the money isn't always important. Now my wife has a good job and I get to persue my dreams.


By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Wednesday, December 03, 2003 - 09:58 pm: Edit


By Chefspike (Chefspike) on Wednesday, December 03, 2003 - 10:23 pm: Edit

St. Louis is a great town !
Listen, I have a tool box with wheeles, two pull out trays. DON'T LOAN YOUR TOOLS TO ANYONE !!!
buy cheap right now and then add to your stuff later.

By Snuffaluff (Snuffaluff) on Friday, December 05, 2003 - 11:34 am: Edit

I know that the school I go to offered a kit(roll) for the students to buy. See if the course you are taking offers something similar. My roll came w/ chef's knife, paring knive, filet knife, pastry bag, 2tips, peeler, whisk, 8-9" spatula, thermo... that's all I can think of. I got ALL of this for only $120+\- a few bucks.
If your school doesn't offer something like that, then post here again, and I'll post the place that i ordered my stuff from. :)

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Friday, December 05, 2003 - 11:47 am: Edit

I would not go with a roll kit since you always outgrow it! I had one once, it's in a closet somewhere, I think I used it for 6 months and I went back to the tool box!
The tool box is studier, more flexible in quantities of stuff you can put in, on the other side of the coin, it's heavier and it takes up more space!
I've seen some guys who carry 2 or 3 tool boxes and I ask myself, what the hell could they be carrying in there????

By Chefspike (Chefspike) on Friday, December 05, 2003 - 11:52 am: Edit

if I get some more edit's do I win a prize or something?

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Friday, December 05, 2003 - 12:04 pm: Edit

Edit that!

By Chefspike (Chefspike) on Friday, December 05, 2003 - 01:39 pm: Edit



By Chefspike (Chefspike) on Wednesday, December 17, 2003 - 11:11 pm: Edit

HEY.....what happened to that thread, "are the french as good as they think they are?"
come ON!....whats going on.
i wanna talk to chefmars somemore..........
i have a itch....

By George (George) on Thursday, December 18, 2003 - 07:33 am: Edit

It's been moved to the Locker Room.

From now on posts that are mostly just bickering get moved there, where they belong.


By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Thursday, December 18, 2003 - 10:37 am: Edit

Yeah Spike; to the locker room with all the other trash talk!!!!!

By Chefspike (Chefspike) on Thursday, December 18, 2003 - 02:49 pm: Edit

"From now on posts that are mostly just bickering get moved there, where they belong"...I love this!
Manny should live by this,LOL!

By Ironhead (Ironhead) on Tuesday, February 03, 2004 - 07:25 am: Edit

I may have missed this, but I didn't notice anyone pointing out the main advantage of toolboxes over knife rolls. You can LOCK a toolbox. Now, that is not to say that some lowlife won't steal your entire toolbox, but I have been lucky enough to work in kitchens without that happening to anyone. If the chef doesn't mind you can leave your tool kit locked up in the kitchen and not have to lug it back and forth every day. Just remember that sitting in a working kitchen, your toolbox is going to get filthy. Keep it clean if you are going to leave it in the kitchen it'll keep your chef off your back (about your toolbox, anyway).

By Steve9389 (Steve9389) on Tuesday, February 03, 2004 - 10:46 am: Edit

I'm working in my third kitchen now, and I've yet to work in one that didn't bring in rented knives and provide all the other necessary tools. At Soldier Field last season, I know of one cook who brought in his toolbox (and it was a toolbox), and somebody walked off with the whole thing.

I like my knives much better than the ones the restaurants provide, but I'll happily use the rented stuff if it means not putting my own expensive ones at risk. I will say this, though: I trust the cooks I work with in the two restaurants (almost all of whom are Mexican) completely, and I think my kit would be safe there. I can't say the same for the mostly American culinary students who worked at Soldier Field, who would leave the building every Sunday with their jackets bulging with stolen uniforms and food. I imagine those of us who work in kitchens could put some cultural stereotypes to rest pretty quickly, no?

By Andapanda (Andapanda) on Monday, July 12, 2004 - 12:39 pm: Edit

One caveat about shopping for a toolbox. Buy a toolbox that has hinges that can not be opened by removing the aluminum pin with a pair of pliers. I have witnessed a cook opening other cook's toolbox in this manner. Also check the quality of latches and hasps. I recommend the red Stack-On DX 22" steel and plastic toolbox that is available at KMart for around $20. Stanley also makes excellent toolboxes. Rubbermaid Durabull Industrial toolbox is a good plastic toolbox.

By Jonesb (Jonesb) on Monday, July 12, 2004 - 01:04 pm: Edit

i started with just one 10" chefs knife.

i then added to this a whustof fillet, a small paring knife. a gustav emil ern slicer (my favourite knife). a meat fork. one of those nifty things that scrape the rind off lemons. one of those nifty things that make nice patterns in the skin of lemons and other veg and fruit.
and also a pallette knife.

and that is about it i think.. i have never needed anything else... or anything else i have used came from the kitchen i was working in.

i did things the opposite way round. i went from working as a chef to working in computers (which, is what i do now)

i just cook at home now.

By Andapanda (Andapanda) on Wednesday, July 14, 2004 - 12:27 pm: Edit

I have several toolboxes, one for bakery tools, others for garde manger tools, hot line work, large knives, and large miscellaneous tools, etc.
You can start with just one toolbox for now. If I were to buy another toolbox, I'd buy the 22" Stack-On DX red steel and plastic toolbox sold at KMart, because that seems to be the best value for the money available on the market.
If you want a stronger toolbox, then consider the Stack-On DXT toolbox with diamond treadplate. The Stack-On DX, & DXT toolboxes have sturdy metal hinges that cannot be opened with pliers. Stanley also makes good toolboxes, mine has a diamond treadplate. I also have Rubbermaid DuraBull, and Plano toolboxes. They have plastic hinges, but no aluminum pins that can be extracted with pliers. Plano made a good reputation for themselves in fishing tackle boxes, but their toolboxes are not as sturdy as other makes available. For example, my Plano toolboxes have handles that are too narrow, latches that are not very sturdy, and the hole for the lock is too small. Therefore, I must resort to using a small luggage lock instead of a sturdier lock.
I line my toolboxes with bar towels to keep the knives from jostling around, or you can get fancy and buy the non-slip matting available in hardware stores, also, as previously stated, buy sleeves for your knives to protect the blades and yourself.
St. Louis Community College-Forest Park should be adequate for your needs. They will invariably sell you a student knife roll most likely with Dexter Russell SaniSafe or Sofgrip knives, or Forschner(Victorinox) knives. I had suggested to LamsonSharp that they offer their student knife rolls with their ProCommercial knives with a 10" Chef's knife. LamsonSharp student knife rolls come with some nice KnifeSafe blade sleeves <http://lamsonsharp.com/lamproduct_storage.html>.
Nevertheless, you could just buy the kind you prefer, if they allow. Some private cookery schools mandate that you buy their student kits to maintain uniformity. Community colleges are a little more accommodating than the private cookery schools.
I suggest that you also buy a "Y" shaped vegetable peeler in addition to a swivel peeler because the "Y" shaped peelers peel much faster than swivel peelers when peeling pototoes. I like Zyliss "Y" peelers. A small ceramic rod is handy for honing some serrated blades. A butcher's steel is necessary because the ones in the kitchen are usually worn out. The conventional ones last longer than the diamond-coated ones. F. Dick makes the best ones I've seen, but the Dexter Russell ones will suffice. A large spoon-shaped silicone spatula(Rubbermaid, Traex, Vollrath) is also recommended. Some hotel kitchens require that their cooks provide their own spatulas. You might want to consider buying a channel knife, zester, Microplane wood rasp, apple corer, decorating knife, corkscrew/bottle opener. I like the Forschner garde manger tools. As you gain experience in the kitchen, you will see what kind of tools you'll need.
Apply yourself at school and then seek work at the finest hotel kitchen in the St. Louis area. Other options are high-end resorts and country clubs. You can receive an education at a community college that is comparable to those expensive private cookery schools without the expense, and attitude! Are you in the degree or apprenticeship program at SLCC-FP? By the way, how did you decide to give up a lucrative career in the computer industry to work in the low wage foodservice industry? Anyway, I wish you well in your new endeavor.

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