1. Hone Your Knife Skills.
Nothing says competence in the kitchen like the ability to slice and dice like Martin Yan—and expert chopping starts with a good set of knives. We’re partial to KORIN’s Japanese-style Gyutou chef’s knife, which is well-balanced, maintains a sharp edge, and is easy to handle. Core Bamboo’s utility knife is perfect for peeling, slicing, and coring fruits and vegetables—plus it has a charming radish-patterned blade. Sharpen (or take your knives to be sharpened) regularly and check out Bon Appétit’s knife skills series, which has helpful how-to videos on chopping, dicing, and julienning.
2. Stock Your Pantry Like a Pro.
Chefs know that a single ingredient can transform a dish: truffle salt elevates scrambled eggs from ho-hum to haute, while fresh thyme adds a sweet earthiness to roast chicken. Don’t settle for sad-looking grocery store herbs; stock up at the farmers’ market or grow your own with Gift Republic’s Herb Garden kit. Or try herb-infused olive oils, which punch up the flavor profile of homemade mayonnaise, marinades, and vinaigrettes.
3. Look the Part.
Cooking can be a messy business, but that doesn’t mean that you should wear your nattiest sweat pants. Think of an apron as your kitchen uniform, and pick one that conveys your approach. Sauteeing in pearls? Pick up a sweetly ruffled vintage-inspired apron (Anthropologie has a fun selection). All flawless technique and serious sous-vide-ing? Try Hedley & Bennett’s chef-approved denim and canvas versions. Bonus: even if burn your roast, you’ll still look fab. It doesn’t hurt to have fashionable kitchenware either: Sabre Paris’ tart server and French Bull's mini bowl set are both worthy of a magazine-style spread. And while we love eau de roast chicken, we don’t skip a spritz of L’OCCITANE Jasmine or a bit of TOCCA’s grapefruit-scented Cleopatra hand cream to transition from cooking to entertaining.
4. Cultivate Your Recipe Library.
The web has just as many amazing recipe websites as it does cute cat gifs (whew). We always come back to Food52, Smitten Kitchen, Joy the Baker, and 101 Cookbooks. We’re also fans of actual cookbooks, which only get better with age, dog-eared pages, and grease stains. If you’re just beginning to build your collection, nothing beats Joy of Cooking or The New Basics Cookbook. And we don’t think any shelf is complete without Suzanne Goin’s Sunday Suppers at Lucques or Yotam Ottolenghi’s vegetable-centric Jerusalem.
5. Keep Calm and Carry a Blowtorch.
When we’re stressed in the kitchen, we find that Julia Child—or Juuuulia as we like to call her—always has the answer. On being prepared: “Always start out with a bigger pot than you think you need” and “Every woman should have a blowtorch.” On overcoming kitchen fear: “In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude” and “If you’re afraid of butter, use cream.” On what to cook: “You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces—just good food from fresh ingredients.” We find that a bit of aromatherapy doesn’t either. Try Illumes’s earthy-scented Starlight candle for a fresh kitchen pick-me-up.