All great chefs had to start somewhere, and like In Garten says, sometimes it's best to go "back to basics." It doesn't matter how much cooking I do, how much I practice new techniques, or whether I'm actually able to get recipes finished and on a plate; I still use five basic kitchen tools almost every single day. I've listed them below and while a few of them aren't cheap, they've lasted me for years and I wouldn't trade them for anything. So if you know anyone who's just starting out in the kitchen, consider getting them one of these basic kitchen tools. Not only will they thank you for it, but you'll be one of the first one invited to their dinner parties. It's a win-win.
The "workhorse" of all cookware shapes, All-Clad fry pans' versatile shape and size make them a frequent choice for scrambling eggs and bacon on Sunday morning, or preparing a quick chicken sauté dinner on a weeknight. Nonstick fry pans are safe in the oven to 500F degrees but should not be placed under a broiler. Come as small as 8" and as large as 14".
Whisk scrambled eggs, soups, sauce, cake batters, sauces, salad dressings, and more. Basically, if it starts out as a liquid, it will inevitably meet a whisk. The long, supple wires of these whisks provide good action to your whisking, allowing air to incorporate into sauces and creams, giving them a thicker consistency. The handles have watertight seals and handy hanging loops. Made from 18/10 stainless steel and designed in Germany.
These bowls are incredible for a few reasons: they come in three sizes (1/2-quart, 3-quarts, and 5-quarts), the rubber base prevents them from sliding around your countertop, even when it's wet; they're great for cooking, baking and even food storage; and they quickly adapt on both heat and cold temperatures. If you need to make whipped cream, just throw a bowl in the freezer until it's very cold, then add the cream and whip away. Same goes for storing ice cream.
Every cook needs an amazing knife, and in the case of a knife, you get what you pay for. Shun is my favorite knife brand, because the labor-intensive manufacturing process results in one of the most amazing, razor-sharp knives I've ever held. Shun knives are created in Seki City, Japan's 700-year-old center for samurai swords. The "ripple" Damascus rust-free finish is achieved by forging 16 layers of steel. Flexible, stick-resistant blade is stamped, hand-ground to an exceptional 16-degree angle, then hand-polished. If you can only get one knife, this should be it.
These are already on my gift list for bakers, but I've got to share them again. Bryan got these for me last year, branded with Pardon My Crumbs on each handle. While you certainly don't need to have personalized spatulas, they do add an element of fun to the kitchen. If you're brand new to cooking, you could brand them with, "Beginner's Luck" or something fun like that. I use these pretty much every day, whether it's to make scrambled eggs, pancakes, chili, pastas, cupcakes batter, etc. They are indispensable for mixing, stirring, scraping and folding ingredients. Made in the USA from flexible silicone, their wide heads withstand heat up to 800°F and they won't chip or crack.