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Seattle-area chefs on what to splurge/save on in the kitchen

Jackie Varriano, The Seattle Times on

Published in Fashion Daily News

SEATTLE — Well over a decade ago, my mom bought me a fire engine red KitchenAid stand mixer. It felt like unwrapping my own version of a golden ticket, one that would provide entry to a whole world of mixing, kneading, whipping and — given the additional attachments I chose to buy — grinding, pasta sheeting and more. Of course it didn't necessarily do all that. But I still love it and believe that it was one splurge that I would've willingly spent my own money on.

In this age where we are constantly bombarded with targeted ads and influencers turning us on to the latest "must-have" kitchen gadgets, where seemingly every celebrity (chef or not) has their own line of cookware, what's worth the money and where can we save?

I asked over a dozen Seattle-area chefs, restaurant owners and cookbook authors this question: In your home kitchen, where do you save and where do you splurge? The results were, unsurprisingly, highly personal. The most divisive issue? Knives.

Eli Dahlin, chef and co-owner of Capitol Hill natural wine bar and restaurant Light Sleeper, says that while knives are specialized tools and "some are incredible works of art," people only need a few of the expensive ones.

"I reach for Wüsthof or Victorinox brands as often as Shun. You can't buy knife skills," he said.

On the other hand, "Pieometry" author Lauren Ko, known for her beautifully intricate pies, says knives are the perfect splurge.


"I have a Japanese chef's knife made by Tojiro, and having something that is durable, hard, and super sharp is key for all things pie art (as well as personal cooking)," she said. "If I ever had to replace it, I wouldn't compromise on quality or cost."

Victor Steinbrueck of hip Fremont seafood spot Local Tide agrees with Ko, saying, "I for sure love to spend money on knives and will never shortcut myself there. There's nothing better than cutting a single meal's worth of veggies (as opposed to enough to supply a restaurant) with a nice sharp knife."

The "save" nearly everyone had on their list? Mandolines — those razor-sharp slicing tools.

As Donald Adams, co-chef and co-owner of Phinney Ridge fried chicken hot spot The Chicken Supply, says, "The $25 green Japanese-style mandoline is as good as any other expensive product that you could ever do the same thing with."


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