Cookware mecca Borough Kitchen’s founders on the kit and knife skills that make a great home chef
Launching their first shop in 2013, Justin Kowbel and David Caldana ( below, from left), the founders of Borough Kitchen, proffer all the home chef could possibly need for cooking and entertaining, focusing on timeless classics and pieces that will last a lifetime.
Starting out in the heart of London’s food scene, Borough Market, the brand now has outposts in Hampstead and Chiswick, all offering beautiful cookware and a selection of cooking classes ( boroughkitchen.com).
How important is using the correct cookware?
People can become obsessed with picking the freshest ingredients, but it’s equally important to choose the right cookware to get the best results. You don’t need to own a lot of gadgets – just focus on the essential, high-quality, lifetime pieces.
Do you have any kitchen must-haves?
American chef Julia Child’s motto was ‘Always start out with a larger pot than you think you need’. Our essentials include a high-precision ‘Copper Core’ frying pan by All-clad; a chef’s pan, such as the De Buyer ‘Mineral B’ frying pan (our secret weapon for cooking the perfect steak); and an allround non-stick one – try Gastrolux. Our go-to small knife is a bird’s beak. Some like to use a more traditional paring knife, but we reach for this one to cut the ends off green beans or quarter mushrooms. What are your favourite brands? Mauviel’s ‘M Cook’ pan range is very heat-responsive and can go straight in the dishwasher. French maker Pillivuyt makes classic porcelain – like Mauviel, it’s a brand that’s been around for well over a century. We also rate Finex, which has a line of amazing cast-iron pots with woven stainless-steel, stay-cool handles. It’s planning to unveil a new, bigger casserole dish next year – we can’t wait for that.
Are there any magic instruments that create wow-factor food?
We love the ‘Big Green Egg’, a barbecue, smoker and outdoor oven. It creates an incredible smoky flavour and the ceramic body ensures all of the moisture is locked into the food, so you end up with a crowd-pleasing meal every time. Our favourite dishes to make in it are côte de boeuf or classic Sunday roast chicken. A smoking gun is a nifty gadget, too. It adds an awesome flavour to all foods – even cocktails. A smoked Negroni is a winner.
Is there a tool that you think is missing from most kitchens?
A whetstone to keep knives sharp. Nothing produces a better edge or is easier on your knives. We hold free 20-minute tutorials in our stores to teach people how to sharpen their knives properly. Also a ‘Fine Grater’ by Microplane. It’s a brilliant tool that you will find many uses for – it works for citrus zest, Parmesan, garlic, nutmeg, chocolate and more.
If you could splurge on one piece, what would it be?
A chef’s knife. Spending between £80 and £200 will get you a great one. With the proper care and some simple maintenance, it will last you decades. Your second knife should be a good paring one for smaller jobs. Our three favourite brands are Wusthof, Kai Shun and Blenheim Forge.
What would you buy as a gift for a foodie?
For the advanced chef, a two-handled sauté pan is not only useful but also beautiful to take to the table. A ‘Chef’s Notebook’ by Stone is also a great present. They are greaseproof and waterproof, so useful to keep in the kitchen when you’re tweaking recipes.