10 Restaurant Kitchen Hacks You Can Totally Use at Home
These clever chefs have figured out how to peel eggs fast, avoid onion tears, stop plastic wrap frustration and more.
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The Pros Know
In a restaurant kitchen, prepping dishes quickly and efficiently is everything. But chefs also know that it doesn’t matter how fast you can cook something if it doesn't also taste good — and in that sweet spot is where the best secrets lie. We tapped into chefs from all over the country to share their foolproof cooking hacks to help speed up time in your kitchen and still make food you’ll want to dig into immediately.
Peel Many Hard Boiled Eggs at Once
Meal prepping for the week just got a lot easier thanks to this hack from Executive Chef Youji Iwakura of the Japanese restaurant Kamakura in downtown Boston, MA. Use it to pre-peel eggs for breakfast or when you’re making an egg salad.
Iwakura says to place five to six hard-boiled eggs in a shallow, soft plastic container. Fill the container up half way with water and close the lid. Grab the container and shake vertically, horizontally, and then clockwise or counter-clockwise about 30 times all together. Open the lid and you’ll find the shells have fallen off. Now just dig out the eggs (use the water to help you remove any excess bits of shell), season, and eat!
Peel Garlic Pronto
"Leave garlic cloves in a plastic container filled with water overnight," says Executive Chef Nicholas Poulmentis of Akotiri in Astoria, NY. "The next morning you can push the skin right off, no knife needed." If you’re short on time, you can also stick the garlic in water for a few minutes to help loosen the skins — but overnight will yield better results.
Chill Your Plastic Wrap
This one is truly life-changing: Chef Chaz Eicke of The Salad House in Millburn, NJ says his staff stores plastic wrap in the refrigerator to prevent it from getting crinkled and stuck together. "When you pull it out to cover food it’s no longer a major struggle," he says. Genius.
Cook Bacon in the Oven
If you’re hosting a big brunch and want to skip standing in the kitchen frying bacon in batches, use this no-mess technique from Chef Nicole Guzman of The Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. "Lay the bacon strips on a cookie sheet," Guzman says. "Place in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 to 20 minutes to cook faster and more evenly than frying."
Treat Cutting Boards With Lemon
Executive Chef Ryan Keough of Spuntino Wine Bar & Italian Tapas in Garden City, NY keeps his cutting boards from getting stinky by rubbing coarse salt and half a lemon over them. "Not only does it eliminate odors, it also conditions the board," he says.
Whip Up DIY Crème Fraiche
There’s no aggravation like getting to the middle of a recipe and realizing you need creme fraiche and forgot to add it to your weekly shopping list. "I make a quick and easy creme fraiche by adding heavy cream to sour cream," says Executive Chef Stuart Reb Donald of Bella Sera Gardens in Loxley, AL. For a cup of creme fraiche, use a 1/2-cup each of sour cream and heavy cream as a speedy substitute if you’re out of the real deal. The consistency will be a little thinner than regular creme fraiche, but it will generally do the trick.
Cut Cheese Cleanly
For precise cuts of soft cheese (like goat cheese), Chef Omar Barquera of Andaz Mayakoba Resort in Rivera Maya, Mexico says using a piece of thread and stretching it taut will result in perfect slices. "Be sure to use a thin thread for best results," he says. No thread? Unflavored dental floss performs well too.
Prevent Watery Eyes When Chopping Onions
Onions produce a chemical irritant that stimulates your eyes when you cut them, making them mist up. Not only can this sting, but it can also get pretty annoying if you’re in charge of making a holiday stuffing that requires lots of onion slicing and dicing. Executive Chef Jose Icardi of Diez y Seis Club and Leynia in Miami, FL says to prevent this, cut the ends of the onions off, peel them and soak in water for a few minutes. "This alone will save you time in the kitchen because you won’t be busy crying," Icardi says.
Cut Cherry Tomatoes Together
Kevin Stack, a chef at The Purple Pig in Chicago, IL says a way to save time chopping produce like cherry tomatoes is to use a plate to slice them all at once. Lay the cherry tomatoes on a small plate (or use the base on the bottom of a large plate) and place a sturdy, larger plate on top, holding everything in place with one hand. Then, with a knife (make sure it’s sharp or even serrated) you can half all the tomatoes in one motion.
Sharpen Knives With a Plate
Dull knives don’t just take longer to chop veggies, they’re also dangerous and can make it easier to nick yourself. (A sharp knife is a safe knife!). Chefs use sharpening stones to keep their knives in tip-top condition, but they can be a little hard to master. A kitchen sharpener made for home cooks is likely sufficient for the average person's needs. But if you're in a pinch, chefs Jeff Weiss and Paras Shah of Valencian Gold in Las Vegas, NV suggest that a simple plate can buy you some time before you give your knife a proper sharpening.
To do this, turn the plate upside down and hold the knife at a slight angle. Carefully scrape the knife a few times against the unglazed ceramic base. Flip the knife over to the other side and repeat. (Don’t forget to rinse the knife off after to get any plate residue off.)