Not to state the obvious, but kitchens are notoriously difficult to organize. Whether you have the luxury of a walk-in pantry or you're trying to make do with the tiniest of rental kitchens, there's no denying that clutter accumulates quickly in a culinary space of any size. Between spice racks filled with expired containers of cumin and turmeric, utensil drawers brimming with silicone spatulas and one too many wooden spoons, and cabinets bursting with precariously teetering piles of pots and pans, it can be hard to know exactly where to start.
For insider intel on how to whip the space into shape, we asked chefs and restauranteurs to share their top kitchen organization ideas — because who better to weigh in on the topic than the pros? Ahead, Hunter Pritchett, chef-partner of Los Angeles' Atrium, Casey Lane, a four-time James Beard award-winning chef and creator of Viale dei Romani in West Hollywood, Jason Neroni, chef-owner of The Rose Venice, and Elizabeth Blau, restaurateur and founder/CEO of Blau + Associates, offer their tried-and-true kitchen organization tips.
Tip #1: Ditch Store-Bought Packaging
Simply transferring oft-used ingredients into uniform glass containers can go a long way when it comes to kitchen organization, Pritchett tells Hunker. "I keep my home kitchen and work kitchen organized with the same airtight containers for spice storage and label everything with painters tape," divulges the chef.
Blau agrees: "I love cool containers and jars — and they're an awesome way to add some color and fun to the kitchen while keeping common ingredients stored out in the open," she says. "Pasta, flour, grains, coffee — if they're organized and well-labeled they're easy to find, and they look great on display."
Tip #2: Group Tools by Frequency of Use
"Keeping organized is a constant battle in my busy restaurant and my well-used home kitchen," confesses Pritchett. To streamline things, the chef keeps the things he immediately needs out on the counter and the rest goes into storage, he tells Hunker. "I liken it to leaving your Christmas tree up all year. If you only use it once or twice a year, why leave it in your line of vision?" Brilliant.
Tip #3: Install a Magnetic Knife Rack
When it comes to kitchen organization ideas, Neroni swears by magnetic bars for keeping knives within arm's reach. "I would also recommend working with a bowl or container in front of you while cooking to get rid of scraps and organize what you are cutting. A cluttered cutting board is not pretty," the chef notes.
Tip #4: Store Pots and Pans Conveniently
Always prioritize convenience over aesthetics, advises Blau. "I like to keep all of my pots and pans and tools centrally located around the stovetop, sink, and refrigerator — the action triangle of the kitchen," the restaurateur tells Hunker. "I love the idea of a hanging rack, but unfortunately, it doesn't work in my kitchen. Instead, we have deep cabinets underneath our range where we keep all our pots and pans."
Tip #5: Bring in Extra Counter Space
"One of the most important things for professional cooks, which is just truly the most important thing for all cooks, is not having to move away from your cooktop," says Lane. "A small 14-inch-wide table next to your stove where you can place your salt dish, your olive oil, your pepper mill, and your cooking utensils is the smartest move you can make to improve your food quality as well as your enjoyment of cooking," offers the chef.