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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

Storage containers

All of my storage and containers come from CHEF'STORE. I'm a ride or die fan of deli containers. My dry goods are in Cambros and my cooking oils are in squirt bottles. All of these items are inexpensive and incredibly functional.

— Sarah Monson, chef, Rupee Bar


Outside of the one classic Kunz spoon that every professional cook should have, buy your spoons at a thrift shop. You can get great spoons for a fraction of the price.

— Brian Clevenger, chef/owner, General Harvest Restaurants

Cutting boards

Instead of opting for fancy butcher blocks, I gravitate towards simple boards that are dishwasher safe — ones made of composite materials are a fave.

— Lauren Ko, author of "Pieometry"

Where to splurge

Cast-iron pot

An easy one is saving on cheap nonstick pans but splurge on a really nice cast-iron pot! In our household, nonsticks are used everyday from making breakfast eggs to heating up leftovers. And they can get scratched or lose their "nonstickness" quickly, so we just move on to another cheap one. But we have been collecting the Staub pots in several sizes over the years and their ages just make them that much more trustworthy! Having braised meat, soup and the roast all at the same time in the winter is not just going to fill your fridge but your soul!

— Rachel Yang, chef/owner, Revel and Joule

Raw ingredients

I typically don't hold back when it comes to my raw ingredients — whether that's produce at the farmers market, oils, vinegars and mustards from specialty stores, spices from the spice store.

— Polina Chesnakova, author of "Everyday Cake"

Rice cooker

I'd be remiss to not mention that, as a must-have in the kitchen as making perfect rice is essential to my life.

— Victor Steinbrueck, chef/owner Local Tide

Cleaning supplies

We have noticed a major difference in atmosphere and health (pet/human) since switching to plant-based products. These less-harsh products are more expensive, but for us, it is worth it. Better for our hands, lungs, our pets, the smell of the kitchen and our stuff! Knives stay sharper longer and we experience less corrosion on lots of the kitchenware in general. We also use made-from-plants sponges, etc. Yay, plants!


— Kate Willman, general manager, Eight Row

Marble rolling pin

For pastry at least, this is the best way to go. It's naturally heavy, the marble keeps the dough cold, and they last forever.

— Eli Dahlin, chef/co-owner, Light Sleeper


I think people often cheap out on a blender for their home kitchen. I fell in love with Vitamix blenders while working in my first professional kitchen. These blenders are so strong — they have up to 2.2 horsepower! Most people have a crappy blender in their kitchen that will never be able to properly purée soups, sauces, smoothies or anything. The Vitamix makes quick work of any blending task and is incredibly durable. I bought one 10 years ago for my home kitchen, and it works as well today as it did when I bought it. Another nice thing about Vitamix is you can easily buy and install individual parts to replace a broken blender cup, cracked blade or if the bearing on the blender gets stripped. All the parts are available on Amazon and Vitamix has tutorial videos on how to change out the parts.

— Nicco Muratore, executive chef, mama group

Masticating juicer

These aren't cheap. The model I use sells for around $500, but it's been worth every penny.

— Eli Dahlin, chef/co-owner, Light Sleeper


You can at least sharpen cheap kitchen knives to get by, though when I met my wife, she had a great knives that became ours, so we were set. If you don't have great pans to work with though, that perfect crispy fish skin is much harder to achieve.

— Aaron Tekulve, chef/owner Surrell


We will pay almost any price for good cheese, and, in the most privileged way, cannot bring ourselves to buy it cheap. I have a tattoo of a block of cheese on my wrist and — well — that alone should explain my relationship to this "splurge" item. No price is too high!

— Kate Willman, general manager, Eight Row

Legacy items

I choose to splurge on tools with longevity like knives, equipment and ceramics. Things I can take good care of and use for years.

— Sarah Monson, chef, Rupee Bar

(c)2022 The Seattle Times Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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