Mise en place. It’s a French term professional chefs have down pat and adhering to its doctrine is the first step to great cooking. It means “everything in its place” and it’s a concept even casual cooks need to embrace because, when it comes to success in the kitchen, organization is key. If you’ve tackled your kitchen spring cleaning, you’ll likely know where to find your recipe ingredients and related cookware. Yet, the quality of your cooking and your ease in the kitchen won’t be assured until you also have your cooking tools readily at hand. Where and how you choose to store them depends on your kitchen size, space and, of course, personal preference. Here are some options:
A drawer organizer isn’t just for your utensils: Tools, which include work-horse items like wood spoons, spatulas, graters, peelers, and more, should be organized into slots by category. Think spats in one place, spoons in another, and peelers in yet another. This keeps them not only visually appealing when you open the drawer, but also makes things easy to put away and find them when you need them.
If you have a small drawer where you can allow tools to rest at random, use a cork drawer liner to help keep utensils in place.
When you’re in the process of cooking, the quick retrieval of a related tool can be extremely time-sensitive, whether you’re on the hunt for a slotted spoon to scoop fresh ravioli from boiling water, a spatula for cooking the perfect scrambled eggs, or tongs to turn strips of bacon before they burn. In those cases, it’s best to have your most-used utensils close at hand. A tool rack, whether mounted to the side of a wall near the stove or hanging above it, keeps cooking implements easily visible and within arms reach.
When you can’t resist accenting your marble countertops, or wood cabinetry, or sleek chrome appliances, or you simply want to add one of those elements to your kitchen, there’s a utensil holder at the ready. Most are divided into sections so you can keep your utensils logically organized.
Caddies, Boards and Baskets
Every time you cook, you’ll likely find organizational solutions that best correspond to your own process in the kitchen. Have more than one cooking area? A portable caddy might be just the receptacle for much-needed utensils. Prefer seeing every utensil individually so you can select your favorite? Try a utilitarian pegboard with a hook for every tool. Or, wish you could use a utensil holder, but don’t have the counter space? Perhaps a wall-mounted basket or even a shoe caddy attached to a nearby wall or cabinet door supplies just the type of organization you need.
Organization tip #1? Your knives do NOT belong in a kitchen drawer. Save yourself from knicks and scratches and enhance the life of your blades by storing them individually on magnetic knife bars, in knife blocks, or in-drawer knife racks.