The $11 Item Chopped Winner Chef Steve Benjamin Has Used Since Culinary School

The Food Network star and founder of Espelette in Beverly Hills shares his must-have kitchen essentials and simple tips to help you cook like a pro.

By Alexa Vazquez Feb 08, 2024 9:00 PMTags
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If there's anyone you should take cooking advice from, it's Chopped winner Chef Steve Benjamin. After his win on the famous Food Network show, the acclaimed chef opened up his own restaurant, Espelette at the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills, where he fuses Mediterranean flavors with European influences. Needless to say, Chef Steve knows his stuff. Now, he's dishing out cooking tips and kitchen essentials that will make you feel like you run your very own Michelin Star restaurant.

One thing he attributes his Chopped win to? Organization. "I recommend thinking big picture before you start cooking, envisioning each step in your head, and process each material and each ingredient," he says. "This is half of the job and with a clear head and goal in mind, you can better succeed in a timely manner." Not to mention organization makes clean up much quicker and "is the key to have a really nice result in any kitchen," says Chef Steve.

If you're just starting out, Chef Steve has some advice. "For a new chef, I recommend always working with the proper tools," he says, like sharp knives, lots of different spatulas, and of course, a sanitized towel to wipe down your workspace. But like all of us, Chef Steve loves a good deal, which is why he recommends waiting for a hot sale to buy top-quality pots and pans from brands like Le Creuset, Staub or Tefal. 

Kitchens are about so much more than stocking it up with tools for cooking, says Chef Steve. "There is always action in the kitchen," he tells us. "The kitchen is where everyone comes together, both our family and friends and I say it is where all the magic happens in our home."

From must-have kitchen gadgets to tools that will help you cook like a Chopped winner, keep reading to shop Chef Steve Benjamin's top kitchen essentials whether you're an expert or a novice.

Mercer Culinary 18-8 Stainless Steel Chef Plating Tongs

"That tool is part of my culinary education and background, and I've used it since culinary school. The tweezer allows precision and enables prestige/skilled attention of plating/finishing a dish."

Musubi Kiln Japanese Chopsticks

"I am very intrigued by the Japanese culture. Chopsticks enable a different set of kitchen skills and I find them very interesting. They look very elegant to me."

Opinel No. 112 Paring Knives 2 Piece Set

"These tools are extremely essential as they help to [achieve] step by step recipes. It is very important to utilize the right tool when you are cooking and show your skill set."

Opinel Les Essentials Small Kitchen 4 Piece Knife Set

Here are some more knives Chef Steve always has on hand. The set includes three different knives and a peeler.\

Joel Robuchon Original Book French Published in 1986 Rared

"This book is my Bible, it will always stay with me. It reminds me where I came from, the importance of returning to the basics, and provides constant inspiration."

Japanese Kitchen Canister Stainless Steel Condiment Containers

"Kitchen organization is very important. I ensure my workspace is organized and set up every time before I start, with these Japanese containers. The various sizes are beneficial and the containers themselves are aesthetically sleek and clean looking."

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Staub Cast Iron Dutch Oven

"My culture and family rely heavily on this cast iron [pot] to perfect our cooking. I still have one from my grandmother and my mother and still cooks with it). The diffusion of the heat (for searing, steaming, boiling, etc) with this material is the best of the best."

Ateco Stainless Steel Cake Tester

"I've used this tool for over 30 years. It's the only way for me to know if the dish is cooked thoroughly and if it's ready to be served. This tool gives me the cooking temperature for fish, meats, vegetables, cakes, and more."

VOULOIR Digital Kitchen Timer

"A timer in the kitchen is essential for many reasons to successfully make a dish."

Garnier-Thiebaut Poivrieres Noir French Jacquard Kitchen Towel

"Towels are indispensable in the kitchen, and I use many towels for distinct purposes, such as to carry a hot pot, cleaning surfaces and wiping dishes, and more. My favorite brand to use is Garnier Thiebaut, as it reminds me where I came from."

Kinka BBQ Diatomite Charcoal Grill

"Working with an open fire is very interesting. It's never the same, always different each time. I enjoy different cooking experiences, and this gives me that!"

Cuisinart Quick-Prep Single-Speed Hand Blender

One thing Chef Steve can't live without? "[A] Hand blender set. Like this one."

Hiware Extra Large Bamboo Cutting Board

One inexpensive essential that Chef Steve always repurchases for his kitchen is a small cutting board. "I like to have them new and clean," he says.


"Working on a flat top changed the way we use ingredients when cooking. It requires less oil and butter. It also allows us to better control the temperature during the cooking process."

Thermomix® TM6®

"The Thermomix is becoming increasingly popular and used more and more in kitchens, as it is efficient and easy to use. It helps to achieve emulsion (cold or hot)."

These gifts inspired by The Bear will have fans saying, yes, Chef!

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