Dress Well


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Know your food,

know your farmers,

and know your kitchen.

– Joe Salatin


Regardless of ones culinary skill, the kitchen is the heart of every home. I’ve never seen a well-used dining room, but I’ve seen many worn out kitchen barstools and tables. Food is tied to memory, and tradition for most people. It’s human nature to gather around food, and food lives in the kitchen.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2017 survey reports that Americans spend up to 2.08 hours performing kitchen activities each day. I don’t think it would be a stretch to say other countries are the same, if not more [since we American’s unfortunately love our fast food!]. Doesn’t it make sense to have items in your kitchen to make these activities easier, better, or more fun?

The Chic Gourmay - Baked Scallops in Shells
Sur la Table no longer carries these shells, so I found some on Amazon! Click the picture to buy.

For those of us who developed our love of cuisine at a young age, gourmet cookware has always been exciting, despite the price tag. For example, I don’t even like scallops, but when I saw baking shells at Sur la Table, I bought them, then proceeded to plan an entire dinner party around a seared scallop & couscous appetizer.

However, for those who DON’T spend much time cooking, dropping significant cash on cookware sounds like a waste of money. I’m here to explain to you why investing in your kitchen is life changing, and relevant to cooks at all levels.

To be clear, I’m not saying everyone should have frivolous, largely unused kitchen items around. I’m saying quality cookware can dramatically influence your experience of food. A nice car is more fun to drive, if you get what I’m saying.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve invested in several key pieces that have changed my outlook on cooking, baking, and entertaining. These pieces are not only higher quality, but they simply work better, producing better results. You may not realize how frustrating dull, cheap knives are until you’ve transitioned from your college dorm vegetable knife to something made without plastic parts. I’m here to show support quality kitchen products, and here are my reasons why.


Good products LAST LONGER

[Le Creuset Products]


The Chic Gourmay - Le Creuset
Le Creuset set in Caribbean Blue

I will just come out and say it: Le Creuset is stupid expensive. If you haven’t heard of it, check it out. Come back, give me crazy eyes, thinking you’ll never spend $800 on a set of cook/bakeware.

Well, my friend, these are no ordinary casserole dishes. Le Creuset artisan stoneware is made in France, with the highest quality craftsmanship. It’s created with real, working kitchens in mind. The heat retention promises perfect results every time. The heavy duty construction ensure you will be able to pass it down to your grandchildren someday.

The Chic Gourmay - Le Creuset Cocotte
Potatoes au Gratin in my Le Creuset Cocotte

I realize I am starting out with a bang, choosing an $800 product from the get go. However, these pieces can be purchased individually, over time. Think of your cookware in the terms of price per use. If you get decades of quality meals from your dish, the investment pays off.

I am not yet 30 years old and I’ve gone through about four pyrex casserole dishes. They don’t heat as evenly, they don’t clean as easy, and they aren’t a beautiful piece of craftsmanship I can pass on to my daughter. Invest in something that will last for years to come, and you will find it pays for itself again and again. {Just don’t drop it!}

Other products that famously last a lifetime: Wusthof knives, marble pastry boards [mine was given to me by my grandmother], and a high quality whisk. [trust me on the whisk, the expensive ones don’t bend!]



[KitchenAid or Bosch Mixers]


The Chic Gourmay - Kitchen Aid
This is my KitchenAid. I have both a glass bowl and a stainless steel. Click the picture to see what other colors are available!

I was gifted a KitchenAid for my wedding, and I can’t believe I went so long without one. If it disappeared tomorrow, I’d go get one immediately. Hands-free mixing was a pipe dream for my college cupcake baking self. I have two bowls for my KitchenAid, and it makes for unbelievably fast cake & frosting preparation when you don’t have to wash and dry in between.

The Chic Gourmay - Bosch Mixer
Click the picture to see the features and pricing of the Bosch Mixer

The warranty on KitchenAids is one year, and the consumer ratings across multiple websites are 4.9 stars. It doesn’t hurt that KitchenAid’s are so pretty, and come in any variety of colors to match your decor or your personality.

There is a long standing debate between home chefs whether or not KitchenAids or Bosch mixers are best.They both have similar prices and reviews, and I’ve used both with great results. It’s truly a matter of personal opinion. I like pretty kitchen appliances, and a Bosch just isn’t quite as cute on a counter top.

Other products to streamline your cooking process: Blendtec [use for sauces, purees, even batters], rice cooker, pressure cooker, self-timed coffee maker, and a crockpot.



[Don’t be cheap with your vanilla]


I am not so foolish as to suggest one needs thousands of dollars in kitchen products to make excellent cuisine. On the contrary, some of my favorite meals have been from a tiny cart in the streets of Seoul, or found in a tiny corner of Piss Alley.

The Chic Gourmay - Vanilla Beans
This is what REAL vanilla looks like! Isn’t it stunning?

What I am saying, is that high quality appliances, cookware, and ingredients can mean the difference between an “ok” home cooked meal, and a great one. Yes, ingredients. Investing in your kitchen means investing in your food too! I pick and choose what to splurge on when it comes to food, and one thing I’ve found that can’t be bought on the cheap is vanilla.

The Chic Gourmay - Vanilla Bean Paste
Nielsen-Massey is my favorite brand of extracts. It’s available at Sur la Table, or most kitchen supply stores. You can also click this picture and grab it on Amazon.

Personally, I make my own vanilla. This is an investment of both time and money. I purchase Grade A Bourbon Vanilla Beans and vodka, and let it age for one year. Another option I use is vanilla bean paste, which is excellent in just about everything. I put it in my morning coffee, oatmeal, and most all my desserts even if they don’t call for vanilla.

If you’ve never ventured outside the realm of grocery store vanilla, you’re in for such a treat. Vanilla is an entirely underrated flavor, with more variations than you might think.

Most vanilla comes from Madagascar, commonly referred to as “Bourbon vanilla,” after the island it grows on. Bourbon vanilla is the classic bakers vanilla. Tahitian vanilla can arguably be called “French vanilla” because France ruled over Tahiti for so long, and sourced their vanilla beans there. Mexican vanilla has a dark flavor, and it happens to be my personal favorite. If I’m in Mexico, I’m picking up a large bottle for sure.

Other ingredients to invest in: Sea salt, whole peppercorns, coffee beans, and cheese.



[Don’t just eat your food, experience it]


No matter how much money you make, it’s expensive and silly to eat out all the time. I find myself consistently let down with the quality of restaurants. If I can make a better version at home, the money would be better spent elsewhere.

The Chic Gourmay - Chicken & Croutons
This classic French chicken & crouton dish took me all of 15 minutes to prepare.

There’s also a sense of accomplishment in cooking for yourself or family. Cooking and baking play a timeless role in the tradition of family and home. Many of us have become disconnected with the food we eat. Research studies show that this disconnection has lead to unhealthy behaviors, specifically obesity. It’s true what they say: you are what you eat.

Home cooking develops an appreciation for food. Having high quality kitchen items turns the process of cooking into an art, or, at the very least, makes it less tedious.

You’ll want to make that cake if you have delicious vanilla and a pretty stand for it. You’ll invite a friend to dinner if you can throw a meal in the slow cooker, spending time with them instead of slaving over the stove.

When you invest in your kitchen, you are actually investing in your health, your wallet, and your connection with the ritual of eating.

“No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, and the wisdom of cookbook writers.” – Laurie Colwin


[This post contains affiliate links. If you like an happen to purchase any of the items I’ve linked, I will get a few cents for it. Thanks for reading, if you liked this post, please share it with your friends!]