In 2006, Harold Dieterle was awarded the coveted title of Top Chef at the conclusion of the premier season of Bravo's popular reality cooking show. The winning meal: An impressive five-course wonder that included a duo of beef, olive oil-poached bass and a fig tart. (Yum.)
After the show wrapped, Dieterle moved back home to New York City and opened his restaurant Perilla in 2007, an intimate space in Greenwich Village featuring fresh, seasonal American cuisine. Then in 2010, he opened his Thai restaurant, Kin Shop, which the New York Times glowingly reviewed as “a neighborhood gem.”
Now, five years later, he’s busier than ever. Still heading up the kitchens of both Perilla and Kin Shop, he has yet another new restaurant (still very hush-hush) set to open this fall. He’s also working with writer Andrew Friedman on a book, tentatively titled Harold Dieterle’s Kitchen Notebook, to be published by Grand Central Publishing in 2014. With all this activity, is he ever tempted to hang up his chef’s hat? Apparently not. “I’ve been doing this for twenty years,” Dieterle says. “And I never get tired of it.”
So, what are Chef Dieterle's culinary must-haves? In addition to his magnum of 1999 Shafer Cabernet Reserve that he won on Top Chef ("I keep it in a wine fridge, and I'll never drink it."), he shares his kitchen favorites:
1. Wooden spoon
"My mother would stir her tomato sauce all day with an old-school wooden spoon. Her sauce is my favorite: onion, garlic, crushed red pepper, fennel seeds and a combination of pureed and plum tomatoes. Now I have a wooden spoon just like my mom’s that I use it for everything."
2. Paella pan
"After high school, I worked in Spain and learned to make paella. My version includes sausage, shrimp, clams, mussels, cuttlefish, saffron and when they’re in season, English peas. You’ve got to have peas!"
3. Vitamix Vita-Prep blender
"I use this to make all the curries at Kin Shop. With the Vitamix, you just blend a puree and you get a beautiful, super-smooth curry paste instead of having to spend hours making it the traditional way with a mortar and pestle."
4. Chinois Strainer
"This is a fine-mesh strainer that I use to make sauces and purees really silky after they've gone through the Vitamix. It’s the finishing touch to make sure the sauce doesn’t have any lumps in it."
5. La Baleine sea salt
"I use the fine salt for cooking fish and vegetables, and the coarse salt for meat. The salt really extracts the moisture from proteins so that it caramelizes nicely."
6. Citrus juicer
Photo courtesy of Williams-Sonoma
"I got mine in Thailand nine years ago. You see them everywhere now, but I think I was one of the first people in the U.S. to have one."
7. Green papaya shredder
"This makes really nice julienned shreds of papaya, mango and carrots for salads."
8. All-Clad cookware
"These are durable, they handle well and even if you burn the crap out of them, you can just give them a good scrub and the shine comes back easily. I use these to make my signature dish, the spicy duck meatballs served at Perilla."
"I have this at home because I really like vegetable juice. My go-to drink every morning is a mix of beet, carrot, apple and ginger juices over ice."
10. John Boos cutting board
"This is my pride and joy. The one I have in my kitchen at home is about fifteen years old and my wife calls it an eyesore. But it’s not going anywhere. I sand and oil it and it’s got real character."