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In our series Shopping Buddy, we ask our favorite in-the-know authors, actors, musicians, and tastemakers to share their most coveted home purchases, from kitchen essentials to entertaining must-haves, so that you can shop along with confidence. 

“I’m very opinionated about my products,” says Andy Baraghani, food editor and author of the new cookbook The Cook You Want to Be: Everyday Recipes to Impress. After all, he has spent some serious time in the test kitchens of Bon Appétit and Saveur, and even Sarah Jessica Parker is a fan of his Bolognese. So when Baraghani recommends, for example, one whisk over all other whisks, you pay attention. 

And while we might be particular about his kitchen tools, he’s not particular about how you use his book, which is meant for newbie cooks. “These are my ingredients, my tools, and my recipes,” he says of his vegetable-forward, herby, and acidic combos. “I want you to fall in love with them. But I also want you to take that knowledge and apply it to your own kitchen and your own cooking style.” 

Photography by Greydon Herriot

In fact, his biggest piece of advice for fledgling home cooks is to experiment with new ingredients: “If you see something [at the store or market] that you’ve never seen before, and it’s not too expensive or out of your budget, buy it and try it.”

But let’s say you’re new to the kitchen and wouldn’t consider yourself food-editor level just yet, and the tools section of your grocery store has you breaking out in hives. Here are the items that Baraghani says, in his own words, will make new cooks feel like pros in no time.

Knives Out

I don’t believe in having too much equipment, because I think it clouds your judgment in the kitchen and you end up relying on many things that don’t really do the job right. For example, you don’t need all the different types of knives. You only really need a bread knife, a chef’s knife, and a paring knife.

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Knife Trio, Our Place ($145)

Best Boards

 I always have a really good wood cutting board, but also a small plastic cutting board dedicated just for citrus. I use a lot of different citrus in my cooking, and it tends to absorb many different flavors when you cut it. It’s happened before, where I’m cutting citrus on a plastic cutting board that I was using to cut onions or garlic, and then that lemon has a garlicky lemon flavor, which I didn’t really want.

Appliance That’s Worth the Splurge

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Vitamix E310 Explorian Blender, Amazon ($289)

I’m not someone who drinks juice, but I do drink smoothies, and I will want to blend things. I still haven’t found anything that works like a Vitamix.

The Only Pan You Really Need

I have other pans, but I use cast iron the most for sure. Use it, take care of it, and it will last a lifetime. 

My Fave Under-$10 Tool

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Paring Knife, Sur La Table ($8)

I don’t spend money on paring knives, but I love them. They’re what I use to core apples and do small tasks around the kitchen when I don’t need a big chef’s knife.

The Eco Swap

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Hildegun Dish Towel, IKEA ($1)

I don’t use paper towels. Instead I have a stack of 15 to 20 IKEA dish towels that I use until they’re beautifully stained and ripped apart.