Professional chef, cookbook author and winner of the 2012 Great British Bake Off, John Whaite, shares his secret shortcuts to getting a kitchen a top chef would be proud of!
A few easy tweaks and changes will make your experience in the kitchen a whole lot more pleasant. And who better to share their tips and organising hacks than an amateur cook turned pro chef?
1. Knife to know
‘A quality chef’s knife is vital, but it has to be the right one for you. I prefer Wüsthof knives as they’re solid and retain sharpness,’ says John.
2. Tech savvy
‘I couldn’t live without my food processor. It saves time when chopping and grating larger quantities. I depend on my stand mixer, too, as I hate to have to do everything by hand.’
3. No room for rubbish
‘Clear out! There’s a lot of rubbish out there that’s advertised to be “time saving” or “life changing”, but I look at it like this: if you haven’t needed it so far in your cooking or baking life, the chances are that you don’t need it (or ever will), unless it saves you a vast amount of time, or makes your life much easier. Otherwise it’s just clutter.’ Well, now you’ve heard it from the expert, it’s time to be ruthless.
4. Say no to silicon
‘Floppy, silicon cake “tins” — I really can’t stand them,’ says John. And with a Great British Bake Off championship under his belt, he should know! ‘They’re a horror to clean, and I don’t think cakes actually bake well in them.’ Go for a sturdy set of baking tins instead — you might have to make an upfront investment, but they’ll last you a lifetime… and won’t ruin your sponge.
5. Fridge facts
‘Organise your fridge properly. In a professional kitchen, raw meat is always at the bottom,’ John explains. ‘So if you have a fridge with drawers at the bottom, use one exclusively for meat. Put any opened products at the top of the fridge so you don’t forget about them.’
‘Milk shouldn’t really go in the door as this area warms up quickly when opened, so use this space for condiments only,’ says John.
6. Use space wisely
Only leave your most-used items out on display, and put anything that you use less than once a week in cupboards. Don’t overlook the addition of collapsible shelves in your cupboards either – try West Pack, which has loads of budget-friendly shelving.
If you need a little bit of extra storage space, insert a mini-shelving unit under your wall cabinets. You could turn it into a drinks station by filling the shelves with mugs and canisters of tea, coffee and sugar.
Read more: 11 kitchen hacks every beginner should know
7. Level up
Don’t have much cupboard space? Adding your own shelving unit will change your life. Find one that takes up minimal wall-space, but can store your pots, pans, gadgets, plates and other bulky items.
8. Magic magnets
It’s a great idea to attach a magnetic bar to the wall, so that you can have metal utensils, like can openers, scissors and spatulas, within easy reach, without taking up unnecessary counter space.
9. Storage hacks
Chopping boards can be stacked in a corner and still look stylish. Stick a magazine rack to the inside of a cupboard door – it makes a clever home for tubes of foil, clingwrap and baking paper. You can use filing racks to organise your baking trays in a much more orderly fashion.
Read more: How to make white sauce — an easy guide
10. Get in the zone
Organise your kitchen according to zones. Mornings will run a lot more smoothly by setting up the essentials (mugs, kettle, toaster, bread bin) all in one zone. The same goes for preparing food, cooking and baking — make sure everything you need is within arm’s reach.
Make use of the wasted space on the inside of a cabinet door by covering it with a thin sheet of cork. You can use it as a pin board to pin up notes, recipes and shopping lists so your worktops are clear of clutter.
12. Hit the sauce
No condiment drawer? No problem! Use a deep-sided tray to hold condiments, small jars and bottles. It’ll catch the drips and you can treat it like a drawer, sliding it in and out of a cupboard for easy access.