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When it comes to holiday cooking, we know what members of the Bravo's Top Chef family consider their favorite meals to prepare (check out the videos above for some recipe ideas), what ingredients they keep stocked at home, and how they utilize leftovers. Now, alums Jamie Lynch, Sheldon Simeon, Carla Hall, Kevin Gillespie, Justin Sutherland, and head judge Tom Colicchio are sharing their go-to secret weapon kitchen items that make a special meal delicious and stress-free.
"The cast iron pan is my favorite go-to. It never leaves the stove top. I use it for everything," Seasons 14 and 17 contestant Jamie told BravoTV.com. "You can bake bread in it, you can make a stew in there, you can sear perfect filets of fish. The cast iron pan is the winner, I think, of the most versatile tool."
While Jamie admitted he's "kind of old school that way," Tom is utilizing newer technology this year. "This season I’ve been using my MEATER thermometer," wrote Tom, who is a brand partner and a culinary consultant at The Jersey Tomato Co. "It connects to your phone and is great for holidays dishes like a roast and is great if your oven temperature isn’t perfectly calibrated."
In recent years, Justin has come to appreciate a popular countertop slow cooker. "I’ve become more and more, as I get older, a big crock pot fan," the Season 16 contestant shared. "It’s nice. I just find whatever piece of meat is needing to be cooked and I just throw everything in there, set it, forget it, and you usually have leftovers."
While Carla recently shared how she will be using her air fryer for holiday cooking this year, the Seasons 5 and 8 contestant typically finds herself reaching for another appliance during the holiday season. "I probably use my KitchenAid mixer a lot more than I normally do," she said.
To prepare an incredible meal while also freeing up plenty space in the kitchen, Kevin suggests taking your cooking outside. "My secret weapon is the grill," the Season 6 contestant wrote. "People don’t think of it for holiday cooking but it’s the largest piece of equipment you have."
Sheldon, whose forthcoming book Cook Real Hawai'i is now available for preorder, is also a fan of utilizing the grill. When making his "go-to go-to holiday dish," prime rib, the Seasons 10 and 14 contestant explained, "I have a cool rotisserie that snaps on to my Weber grill and I let that hunk of meat roast slowly over Kiawe coals, a Hawaii Mesquite hardwood."
When thinking about his go-to item for making a special meal, Sheldon also emphasized the importance of keeping flavor-adding ingredients on hand. "Umami is my secret kitchen weapon for the holidays," he wrote. "Add a big boost of flavor to traditional holiday favorites with Umami. Think rubbing down your turkey with Sho Koji before roasting, finishing off gravy with a splash of soy sauce, or a dollop of oyster sauce goes a long way when added to braised collard greens!"
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