How chef Claire van Rooyen stocks her kitchen
Words: Annette Minnaar + Claire van Rooyen | Photography: Inge Prins
Can’t get enough of shows such as Chef’s Table, Hell’s Kitchen and Street Food? How about Bon Appetit’s irresistibly good YouTube channel? Us too. We regularly feast our way through episode after episode, because there’s something seriously addictive about watching the creative processes, food prep, manic kitchen dynamics and knowledgeable chefs housed within food shows. Are they the true origin of the term “binge-watching”? Must be. Luckily for us, our interconnected world has unearthed cuisines and techniques from all over the world, sparking a renewed interest in all things food near and far. And one thing remains clear: prepping is king.
Claire van Rooyen, a freelance food stylist and chef who owns artisanal ice-cream brand Scream Homemade Ice Cream, knows her way around many types of kitchens – and tools. Understandably so, since she’s worn aprons in prestigious restaurants (Chef’s Warehouse and The Test Kitchen, for example) and spent two years abroad working in a Michelin-star gastro pub in London. Now she’s letting us in on some insider secrets. With a few expert tips, take your foodie obsessions to chef heights in your very own kitchen.
“I like to purchase kitchen items that are both functional and stylish. I want them to not only make cooking easier, but also fit in with the aesthetics of my kitchen. I’m not a fan of kitchen gadgets, but prefer classic tools that I know will get the job done. For example, every kitchen needs a good vegetable peeler, serving a multitude of functions that include peeling fruit and veg, creating gorgeous vegetable ribbons and even finely slicing cheese.
When it comes to knives, every home cook needs a super-sharp, chef’s knife to help them along the way. Global is a great brand that will last you a lifetime. Chopping boards need to be sturdy and the choice of wood or plastic comes down to the ingredients and function. I recommend owning both. Wooden cutting boards are great for serving food and preparing fruits and veg, while plastic varieties are better suited for meat and fish.”
“A good set of pots and pans is vital for many day-to-day recipes. For pans, I love oven-proof options that can go straight from the stove to the oven. They are great for creating those one-pot wonders, ideal for serving the finished dish in the pan itself and, best of all, mean less washing up. A deep pot for boiling pasta along with two or three medium-sized sauce pots are a must. My favourite brand at the moment is ScanPan and Le Creuset – not only do they last but they look amazing, too.”
“A good selection of high-quality storage pieces is a smart investment for your kitchen. I recommend strong, plastic Tupperware in a few different sizes, as well as a variety of clear glass containers. Glass jars are my favourite, because they look spectacular when filled with dried goods and can serve more than just your storage needs.”