The essentials are a mix of the super-practical and the sentimental for chef Matt Jennings, who owns La Laiterie restaurant and Farmstead cheese shop in Providence and is hoping to bring his talents to Boston in the near future.
La Laiterie and Farmstead, 184–188 Wayland Ave., Providence, RI, 401-274-7177, farmsteadinc.com.
1. Flipping Out
Though it’s designed for fish, Jennings finds this lightweight spatula has a multitude of uses. “It provides a lighter touch when you are cooking, instead of using tongs or breaking up food with big, clunky utensils,” he says.
2. On Board
La Laiterie’s menu features plenty of handmade pasta, and garganelli is one of Jennings’s favorites to make. He rolls each piece individually on this twine-wrapped board, custom made for the restaurant by a craftsman in Sonoma. “You can use it for gnocchi as well, and other different types of pasta,” he explains. “When you roll the dough on it, it makes a little indentation to help hold the sauce.”
3. A Cut Above
Jennings’s most beloved knife is a 14-inch carbon steel, single-rivet J.A. Henckels workhorse he’s dubbed Brunhilde, which means “armored woman warrior” in German. “She was picked up at a yard sale in Vermont 11 years ago,” he recalls. “She’s traveled cross-country with me, to Europe with me, and cut everything from mirepoix at the Beard House [in New York] to quesadillas for my two-year-old son.”
4. Fine Grind
A Peugeot pepper mill, personalized with a bit of masking tape for extra grip, always has a place on Jennings’s line. “If I was on a desert island, I would need to have a pepper mill with me,” he jokes. This Peugeot model adjusts easily between fine and coarse grinds, making it a favorite. “It’s just an all-around little tank,” he says.
Photos by Scott M. Lacey