Gift of advice

Joined May 10, 2018
For Christmas, I am writing up a list of cooking/food safety tips along a few simple recipes for my nephew who started graduate school and is living on his own. This poor kid did not get any instruction on using a kitchen growing up as his mom believes cutting up an apple is almost more "cooking" than she can take (literally buys apples pre-sliced.) He's better than that and has a basic understanding of frying and probably microwaving, I believe.

What are some of your top tips that you would include?

I'm getting him an instant read thermometer and maybe a few other items. Outside of a good quality knife (which he has) what other "must have" kitchen gear would you recommend that would fit in a stocking?
Joined Apr 3, 2008
A good peeler, a cutting board, measuring cups, tongs, wooden spoons, meat thermometer, micro plane zester, and a whisk.


Staff member
Joined Jun 11, 2001
A fish turner. Two of them. Although it's called a fish turner it's just a spatula you can use for everything. It works very well in a flat pan. You use the back side to release stuff when you're cooking and it turns a regular saute pan into a wok, well, not quite, but it makes simulating wok technique in a flat pan a lot easier.
Joined Sep 17, 2018
As far as tips go, I would talk about food safety with cross contamination and the washing of fruits and vegetables. Also the FIFO principle and buying only what he needs with lists as if he is on his own it will be easy to over buy and waste food. The average person already throws away so much food that I think it is over looked a lot.

I agree with a lot of the kitchen items but I would like to add a good rubber scraper (spatula) and maybe a manual pepper grinder. You could also get one of those collapsible strainers.

I know this item isn't a kitchen cooking tool exactly but some good steel scrubbers would save him a lot of time, especially if he is new to cooking and is going to be prone to burning a lot of things.
Joined Mar 1, 2017
I would suggest that he learns good knife handling skills, especially how to sharpen knives with stones.

Having said that, a good tutorial on what knives to choose and their function would be a good idea. After that, a good tutorial on how to break down fowl carcasses, fillet fish and prep other proteins would be of good use.

For the beginner who lives on their own, an introduction to one pot cooking would be of infinite value.

Good luck! :)
Joined Oct 9, 2008
I agree 100% with sgsvirgil sgsvirgil : a great knife is a wonderful thing, but what he needs is a few lessons in how to use it properly. You might even consider buying him the DVD of Jacques Pépin's "Complete Techniques" just so he can get the 101 on knife-handling from a master of classical French technique. Once he can handle a knife really well, the rest is pretty much a matter of practice and interest (and talent and intelligence, of course, but we'll assume that as read).

I don't know if you've noticed, but a lot of recipes online are flagged as "difficult" or "time-consuming" because they involve a lot of chopping. Not difficult or tricky chopping, just a lot of it. If you know how to use a knife and your knife is sharp, these recipes suddenly become trivial. But learning to use a knife properly is not something you can sort of pick up casually: it's a serious skill, as you know.

I say buy him a great knife and then insist on spending several hours with him, on more than one occasion, teaching him how to use it.

(Not at all an answer to your question, as formulated, but my very strong opinion, for what little it's worth.)
Joined Apr 25, 2017
My top tip would be learn the basics thoroughly, then move on to "fancy" or complicated recipes. I find people often become discouraged and think they cannot cook (and give up), after trying something above their skill level and not knocking it out of the park. I blame cooking shows for this.
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