What’s in a Portable Kitchen (Small Wares) Kit?

Tonight is week 2 of my formal cooking education (I shared more about the class I’m taking last week).

Heading into class this evening I’m feeling excited as well as a little nervous.  I’m excited to learn and am thrilled to be cooking in a formal environment.  Any healthy nervousness comes from a combination of entering my first formal cooking education as well as a funny hesitation about wearing kitchen whites.  Tonight will be my first time ever actually wearing whites in a kitchen.  I’ve always viewed them as the uniform of the professional cook; many who I look up to wear them with fierce pride and I feel a little out-of-place putting them on.

Whats in a Portable Kitchen (Small Wares) Kit? gadget Cooking School

When we signed up for the class I knew that I’d need a few extra supplies.  Once I viewed the list of things that were needed I decided to buy a small toolbox and buy extra supplies so that I wouldn’t have to pack/ unpack each week and will minimize my chance of forgetting something behind.  The only exception will be by kitchen knives as I don’t want to invest in multiple sets due to pure cost.

The portable kit will be useful far beyond class – it’s an easy thing to grab when heading out the door to cook with friends, heading to my parents for our large preserving days or even for teaching sessions.  There’s nothing fancy in it though I’ve tried to stick to mostly metal and wood equipment.

For now, the contents of my kit includes:

  • 2 wooden spoons
  • a metal spoon
  • rubber spatula (I’ve never had one before!)
  • a set of tongs (which I resist using after hearing Thomas Keller claim they were ‘the wrong tool for every job’)
  • a vegetable peeler
  • a medium-sized ladle
  • a medium brush
  • 2  dessert spoons
  • measuring cups
  • measuring spoons
  • 5 towels
  • an apron
  • a sharpening stone

I also have a knife roll which contains:

  • 4 pairing knives
  • boning knife
  • a 10 inch santoko (Chef’s) knife
  • 12 inch serrated (aka ‘bread’) knife

I’m tempted to add a whisk as well.

What would you carry as your kitchen essentials?



  1. First and foremost, you are missing a First Aid Kit! Mine would have bandaids, gause, tape, alcohol (I carry vodka instead of the more usual denatured wood-alcohol because I believe it safer) and superglue (for minor cuts) and because I am a homeopath, it would also have small vials of Arnica 200c & 10M for bruises and bleeding, Aconite 200 for shock, and Cantharis 200C & 10M for burns; and because I am a chinese herbalist, I would also have a few caps of the chinese herbal patent Yunan Bai Yao to stop bleeding (taken internally and caps opened for powder to be used externally). And because you might treat others you should have two pairs of medical gloves as protection against biohazard (separate and apart from any in your kitchen kit, two pairs because something always goes wrong with at least one glove!) All bits and pieces packaged in clear baggies or snack bags, and the whole in a larger clear ziplock, so you can see and access all immediately if in crisis.

    As to tools:
    - Instead of the rubber spatula, I would take a silicone spatula or two; if they are silicone they can double as cooking utensils.
    - I would also take a pair of kitchen shears.
    - And as you mention, a small whisk and/or a metal fork or two
    - I might take a wooden spatula and a wooden spoon instead of two spoons.
    - I would take two pairs of rubber gloves, casa bella brand, because they are heavier duty than many but light enough that you can still work in them for delicate tasks if necessary, like peeling roasted peppers, although if you have room, a couple of pairs of medical gloves for very delicate tasks, might not go amis.
    - I might take other things, depending on the list of what you will be cooking and what tools are provided; I would certainly take some more things if this kit is to cover baking too. If this is really a kit for purposes other than your class, for instance, if you might keep this to take with you when you go to someone’s house to cook, I would take a couple of flexible cutting boards too.

    • Chitina,

      This is a great list!

      We have a first aid kit there but I have added a few bandaids… have also added shears which is a great idea too… I’m keeping all of these ideas as a master list and see what I really regret not having after! Really appreciate your list – and love the idea of flexible cutting boards – would never have thought of that. :)

  2. A timer!

  3. Even more important, find a way to identify your tools. You can colour code with paint. So many people, so many small wares, all in the same pot sinks. Enjoy!

  4. A thermometer, definitely a small whisk, and a rasp or small grater.

  5. Christina says:

    I agree about the timer. I just thought of that. Here’s one I love (http://tinyurl.com/ag5gmew) it’s got switches so you can have any combo of sound, light, and/or vibration as well as a clip so you can clip it on your clothes, that way it’s your personal timer that doesn’t have to bother anyone else.

    • Christina, I’ve been weighing the idea of using the timer on my phone as a similar tool…but like the idea of a dedicated timer for many reasons including avoiding the distraction of the phone. :)

  6. A board scraper and the things Shannon mentioned

    • Dawn,

      I bought a board scraper a few weeks ago and I’m madly in love with it. It might replace my love of my microplane as my favorite kitchen gadget. I just love the simple effectiveness! :)

  7. Maurita Plouff says:

    Bandaids, finger cots, ducttape (a small bit) and ibuprofen. 2 pr gloves in case bandaids are needed. A bench knife, instant thermometer, pen and small notebook, a small post-it pad, silicon spatulas (2: narrow and wide), small microplane, small flat metal spatula, not offset.

  8. You seem to have this covered. I’m just here to tell you I wish I was doing what you are doing. I am very excited to follow you in your journey please keep posting.

    • Kitty,

      Thanks so much! Comments are really encouraging and really do help decide what content makes it here – so thank you for helpong keep me excited. :)


  9. Your idea is nice. I want to make a Portable Kitchen.

  10. Joel – Where did you get your knife roll from? I’ve been eyeing some handmade leather ones from Etsy but will go with anything that works well and is affordable! I’d love to be able to easily take my good knives with me to friends houses to cook when I KNOW they have absolutely terrible knives (dull, etc).

    • Heya Greg!

      Great idea about Etsy! My number one piece of advice would be to make sure it’s functional – make sure the knives stay in, don’t hit each other and won’t fall out. Tough to tell based on a photo but if I could have a good leather one I’d be pretty excited!

      Most kitchen supply stores (Nella Cutlery on Queen East,Tap Phong or even George Browns Chef school). I’ll do a post on mine soon – it zips up 100% so once they’re in, they’re in… :) J

  11. Four paring knives seems a bit excessive, no? And if you’re wearing chef’s whites, do you need an apron? (Yes, I am always the minimalist; when we go climbing, Tai calls me The Gram Shaver, as in I’m always trying to lighten the load.)

    That said, Thomas Keller can bite me: tongs are essential.

    Coloured tape is the classic culinary school way of identifying your gear (Tai’s knives still have yellow tape on them, nearly 20 years later). I don’t get much use our of wooden spoons, but I can’t live without a flat-ended wooden spatula. A slotted spoon and/or small sieve seem essential; I’m forever missing my small sieve. At Grandma’s house I resort to straining through her tea ball! The other thing I always really miss is Tai’s small, offset spatula: I use it for everything.

    • It is SOOO excessive – especially since I have a real habit of only using a chef’s knife instead of a pairing knife. But I was told I had to bring 2. So I bought 2…twice. Now I have 4 in the kit and I thought I’d never use them. Shockingly I used one last night.

      Great idea for the tape and I think you’ve added a few items to the kit. Now I have to figure out what to cull. :)

  12. This is awesome! I’m preparing a tool box as well and everyone’s suggestions are making a great check list. I also am putting together a plastic tub that holds the canning equipment I need to lug to the classes I teach. I’m using a 12 qt stockpot for the water bath and a 7 qt pressure canner and these two swap out depending on the class. Lid magnet, jar lifter, canning funnel, timer, 2 elbow-length lined silicon mitts, paper towels and newspapers (for padding surfaces) are already in there. I’d love to see suggestions for other additions! I’m doing most of the teaching in church kitchens which are pretty well equipped for pots, pans, colanders, etc.

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