Cooking in a commercial environment is different than in a residence. Generally you have more space in which to work. The equipment is bigger, hotter and more durable, which allows you to be more aggressive. However, there are a few tools that can crossover that I would not want to do without in either place. Here are my top five:
Immersion blender. Can be referred to as a stick blender or boat motor. (I have a large 375 watt unit that looks like a small trolling motor) You will be amazed at how many tasks this device can tackle. From whipping eggs, to blending sauces or smoothing out a soup, this is a gem. The best part is that in most cases you can use the bowl or container you are already working in, instead of having to transfer to a food processor or blender, then back again. A true time saver in every instance. If you are planning on getting a new blender make sure you choose the one that works for you here is a post with the top blenders vs juicers comparison.
Mandolin. No strings on this kind, but it does make music as you will whistle along while you work with it. It makes uniform cuts in vegetables that would be difficult to duplicate by hand, and the kind of cuts that can’t be made in a food processor, plus they are a breeze to clean.
Fine mesh strainer. Also known as a china cap in kitchen speak. This conical filter is great for straining stock or broth, or any kind of liquid. Make sure it has a hook on the rim so it hangs over a bowl or stock pot when in use. I recommend the finest mesh you can find.
Probe thermometer. This handy digital device has a 3 foot heat proof cord that can be placed directly into food a hot oven or pot. Make sure it has a temperature alert, which can be set to signal an exact degree setting. I can’t tell you how many batches of caramel have been saved by the beeper telling me the sugar is at the right point. I’ve seen these range from $16 to $25 dollars.
Microplane zester. This looks like a tool you would find in the woodshop. It’s a mini handheld grater that creates the finest zest from citrus peel. Its also is great for grating fresh ginger or horseradish.