You're not a professional chef, you're just guy who wants to be able to cook. No matter the occasion—a weeknight meal, a quiet dinner for two or a great gathering of friends and family for the holidays—you don't need a bunch of fancy, complicated gadgets cluttering up your counter. But a gentleman's kitchen should be stocked with equipment that's functional and durable. As with anything in your life, the key to success is preparation. When your kitchen is stocked with these ten no-nonsense pieces, impromptu get-togethers and full-on holiday dinners can be easily prepared.
An eight-inch multipurpose chef's knife is the ideal implement for chopping, mincing, slicing and dicing. It's strong enough to handle dirty jobs like carving up a chicken, but it isn't so big that it feels strange simply chopping vegetables. This one, by the makers of the Swiss Army knife, is one of the best rated blades around and it's affordable too.
$37 by Victorinox
Cast Iron Skillet
You can use it to saute, but you can also deep fry or bake in it. Or sear a piece of meat before you roast it in the oven. Since you don't really need soap to clean it, the pan imparts any food with the rich flavors of a good grill (not to mention, a touch of dietary iron).
$24.95 by Lodge
These tend to be an investment, but they're virtually indestructible and can be used for everything from roasting and braising to baking and stewing. The heavy enamel-coated cast iron maintains a steady heat and the close-fitting lid has spikes on the interior for continuous, natural basting. And this one's dishwasher safe.
From $120 by Le Creuset
Don't call it a cookie sheet. Chefs use these for everything and so should you. Roast vegetables, bake fish or use it to marinate or rest a piece of meat. And sure, you can use it to make cookies too.
$15 by Vollrath
Extremely heat-resistant and easy to clean, you don't have to worry about these tools melting into your food, ruining your cook wear or heating up and burning your hand.
From $10 at West Elm
Like an extra pair of hands, tongs will handle anything too hot, messy or slippery to tackle. They especially come in handy when flipping meat or oven-roasted vegetables along with tossing pasta and salads. This locking pair has a firm grip and a built-in resting foot to keep your counter clean.
$9 by Tovolo
A Serious Pot
The cook's workhorse, a large saucepan is big enough to boil pasta or potatoes, but still manageable enough for simmering a sauce or hard boiling an egg. You don't need to go fancy on this, so opt for a durable 4.5 quart steel clad pot from a restaurant supply store. If it's good enough for chefs, right?
$22 at Restaurant Supply
If you plan on leaving your cutting board on the counter, spring for a butcher-style block made from a sturdy piece of thick lumber. A wimpy wood board will ultimately split or warp. And those dainty plastic cutting boards are fine to use for raw meat, but they stain and and you can't set a hot pan on them.
$85 by John Boos
Get some handsomely understated cotton towels and use them for everything from extra large napkins and placemats to potholders. Oh, and you can use them to clean up messes and dry your hands too. These yarn-dyed cotton towels also come with a loop for hanging.
$.79 by Ikea
Ideal for stir-fries, flipping pancakes and making perfectly fluffy eggs, a nonstick skillet is a quick-cooking godsend. This dishwasher-safe model features a durable and slick ceramic-titanium nonstick surface that's bonded directly to the pan so it doesn't peel or scrape away, even when using metal utensils.
$90 by Scanpan
Essential Bottles to Stock
You don't need an overflowing bar cart, but you should always have a few staple bottles on hand for yourself and guests. Start with wine—one red, one white. Add to that a few vital spirits—gin, tequila, vodka and bourbon. Finish it off with a few mixers along with some sparkling mineral water like San Pellegrino.