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Editors’ Picks

A Year in Kitchen Gear

The kitchen essentials you couldn’t get enough of in 2023.

A photograph of Balmuda - The Brew Coffee Pot Shop at Saks

THIS SUMMER, I visited Julia Child’s kitchen at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. The preserved details of what was a completely understated, yet historically significant kitchen were absolutely stunning. While there was nothing luxurious about it, it was clearly well-used, efficient, and thoughtfully designed. Every item had a purpose. As we revisited the kitchen essentials we loved this year, this same sentiment came through — each item recalls the well-designed yet practical items you would find in Julia Child’s kitchen with a modern twist. Whether you’re looking to spruce up your own collection or are searching for the perfect gift for the home chef in your life, we’ve got you covered. — Hailey Andresen

Shop at Saks

Balmuda - The Brew Coffee Pot

About a month ago, I woke up alone in my home for the first time in nearly a decade. My husband, a musician, was away recording his next album, and my kids were at their grandma’s. This, in itself, would have felt surreal, but to top it off, I also had Balmuda’s latest release, The Brew, essentially an electric Chemex. It’s like a pour-over, but there’s no waiting for a kettle to boil, and none of the manual pouring and waiting, yet the same smooth coffee. The machine measures the necessary steep time and even knows just how much hot water to release and when. Suffice it to say that it was love at first brew. From start to finish, the process is a delight, complete with charming sounds. Some may say the carafe is a touch too small, but I disagree. Rather than sipping from a large pot of coffee all morning, my husband and I have a fresh carafe first thing in the morning, and another just before beginning our workdays. — Hailey

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Shop at Fellow

Ode Brew Grinder Gen 2

For a year now, I’ve been making my morning java with a Fellow Ode Brew Grinder, and it’s transformed my routine from drudgery to delight. The Ode was designed with handling in mind, not just performance. Its knobs and levers feel old-school, solid and satisfying. The analog feel is intentional, says Nick Cronan, the industrial designer who developed the Red Dot Design Award–winning Ode and the similarly sleek kettle, the Stagg, for Fellow. When workshopping the look and feel of the two machines, Cronan craved an interaction that was “warm but still digital.” For inspiration, he kept returning to the oversized knobs on ’80s hi-fi systems. Eventually, he said, “Screw it, this is what I want in my kitchen!” My coffee journey started in the pandemic doldrums, when I weaned myself off $6 Brooklyn cold brew and entered a self-guided coffee exploration. My palate became more nuanced, and I started buying better beans, so my countertop gear had to level up too. Sending dried-up grocery-store grounds through the old Mr. Coffee was delivering overheated sludge. That’s no surprise: Any coffee pro will tell you that a great pour begins with a premium grind. — Cooper Fleishman

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Shop at Our Place

Wonder Oven

I recently upped my breakfast game tremendously. Eggs play a large role in my mornings, considering that I live in New York’s Hudson Valley (you just can’t beat those fresh farm yolks). I’m an over-medium girl, but I deeply appreciate a jammy soft-boiled egg, although I rarely make time for it — until now. Enter the Wonder Oven, the latest release from the beloved kitchen brand Our Place. This adorable countertop appliance is an air fryer, oven, and toaster all in one. Visually think elevated Easy-Bake Oven — they even have a special-edition light-pink color. I air-fried two eggs for 15 minutes at 270 degrees while I started cruising through my inbox and voilà, perfect jammy eggs. Less mess, a cooler kitchen in the warm and humid summer months, and quicker cook times are wins all around. — Hailey

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Shop at Leath

The Fieldhouse

Gardening is an art, I tell myself — even a horticulturalist in ideal conditions can’t guarantee a plentiful harvest. But home-grown food shouldn’t be limited to those who’ve mastered this enigmatic craft. The founders of Leath set out with this mission in mind: to bolster the harvests (and spirits) of gardening enthusiasts — no green thumb, yard, large space, or optimal climate necessary. Their clean, minimal, and small indoor-greenhouse system, called the Fieldhouse, is designed to enable anyone with a passion for food to successfully grow their own organic microgreens year-round. Available in eggshell white and forest green, the Fieldhouse blends into almost any space and takes all the guesswork out of gardening. All you have to do is choose your microgreen, add the seeds and soil, water it occasionally, set the grow light timer, and let the Leath Fieldhouse magic (ok, maybe science) do the rest. Within seven to 12 days, you can harvest microgreens in various varieties, including arugula and pea shoots as well as radish, broccoli, and sunflower greens. Each flavor comes in a beautifully designed packet, available to purchase individually or as a subscription, along with helpful and easy-to-follow instructions. — Elissa Polls

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Shop at Caraway

Caraway Food Storage Set

I have been called an organizational hoarder — meaning I deeply enjoy baskets, containers, shelving, bags, you name it. If we’re talking about objects to hide my objects, I’m in. Yet, I have never really treated myself to a quality food storage set until Caraway. I recently pushed my old plastic containers to the back of my cabinets to make space for this gorgeously designed ceramic sage set. Bonus: It also includes storage organizers (more organization!) so that the containers aren’t falling every which way in your cabinet, and they are oven-safe. I can guarantee that my friends will only see these beauties if they come to my house because there is no chance I am running the risk of anyone “forgetting” to return my latest obsession. — Hailey

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Ooni Koda Pizza Oven

Recently, I hosted a pizza party to celebrate my partner’s birthday. Though it sounds like a party for a four-year-old, let me assure you: This was a deadly serious culinary affair. A mix of professional chefs and experienced home cooks gathered around an outdoor wood-fired brick oven in a friend’s backyard. Here’s the thing we don’t like to talk about: We also had an Ooni — a portable gas-powered pizza oven — and honestly, it’s better than the wood-fired brick oven. The Ooni comes to temp in minutes and offers a more evenly cooked pie, still with that fire-kissed crust that could compete with anything in Naples. For the wood-fired oven, we have to arrive three hours early to begin stoking the flames. While a traditional wood-fired outdoor oven is so aesthetically appealing, the Ooni doesn’t look bad either with its sleek, metallic design. Plus, it’s easy to transport, while that wood-fired brick oven is going nowhere. We’ve brought the Ooni to a cabin in Tahoe for après-ski, to a front porch in a rainstorm, and even on a camping trip. Should AI chatbots ever come for my job, I’ll stage a second act as a roving pizzaiolo, serving up beautiful pies in obscure locations with my Ooni. — Laura Smith

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Shop at Field Company

No.8 Cast Iron Skillet, 10 ¼ inches

There are few things I get more excited about than new kitchen gear, and my cast iron skillet from Field Company was no exception. My first impression when I tore open the box was how light weight the skillet felt. Cast iron skillets vary in weight, but there’s no denying that this one, at four and a half pounds, is one of the lightest I’ve ever used. Field Company also sells a Cast Iron Care Kit — something I’ve admittedly never used on my cast irons before, and really makes the art of dinner clean up far more seamless. Frying and sauteing has been an absolute breeze. — Hailey

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I’m making it a goal to procure their entire collection, one piece at a time.

Sabre Bistrot Vintage Finish Flatware

This Bistro Vintage Finish Flatware set allows me to transport to the Parisian cafes and restaurants the Sabre line is inspired by regardless of what’s on my plate. With sixteen colors to choose from, I went with the always classic, black, and I’m thrilled I did so. The French brand makes a variety of utensils I’m a fan of — when I ordered my flatware I also purchased their spreaders and a cheese knife to take my charcuterie boards to the next expert level. I’m making it a goal to procure their entire collection, one piece at a time. — Hailey

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Shop at Nama

Nama J2 Cold Press Juicer

Recently, my parents have been serving homemade juices in an attempt to integrate more fresh fruits and vegetables into their diet whenever I visit. I've really come to enjoy this ritual, but the right tool for me, however, had to be small, quiet, and easy on the upkeep. My search ultimately led me to the Nama J2. It is compact enough to sit on my Brooklyn apartment-sized kitchen countertop full-time and has become a staple of my routine for the past year. Fellow apartment dwellers can rest easy knowing the device won’t cause a racket. It uses the cold-press method, which slowly spins the fruits and veggies, squeezing out the juice while separating and removing the pulp. The auger moves at a gentle 48 rotations per minute, effortlessly breaking down everything from crisp cucumbers to the toughest carrots and ginger without a snag. The hopper is uniquely designed to allow for quick loading of all your ingredients without having to finely dice them beforehand. Beyond the sleek exterior and quiet operation, this juicer is a real powerhouse. — Lisa Lok

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Not only is the A3500 worth every penny, it is so much fun to use that its concoctions have replaced my solid breakfasts, lunches, and midday snacks.

Vitamix Ascent Series A3500

When I first brought home a Vitamix blender, I was curious about the machine’s outsize countertop footprint and the price point for sharp things that spin really fast. Could it possibly live up to the hype? Six months later, I’m happy to report that not only is the A3500 worth every penny, it is so much fun to use that its concoctions have replaced my solid breakfasts, lunches, and midday snacks. I feel like Isaac Newton or Nicolas Flamel, defining new epochs of alchemy as I ransack Key Food for frozen treats to liquefy. Home leftovers, garden greens, the whole kitchen sink — nothing is spared from the A3500’s dazzling vortex. Creamy pasta sauces, salad dressings, and even gazpachos are effortless. And for warm-weather outdoor gatherings, few drinks can spark a more memorable afternoon than a slushy, blended negroni or a margarita pitcher. This may have been a 35th birthday gift, but it seems like I’ll feel 25 forever, and that’s why a high-end blender will always be a kitchen essential. — Cooper

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Our Contributors

Hailey Andresen Writer

Hailey Andresen is the guides editor at Departures. A New York–based writer and editor, she founded the digital lifestyle publication Household Mag and has spent more than a decade in the hospitality industry.

Cooper Fleishman Writer

Cooper Fleishman is Senior Director of Audience Development at Departures. Based in Brooklyn, he is a writer, editor, content director, and growth strategist with more than a decade’s experience in digital media. He previously led news and audience for MEL magazine, directed technology and culture news at Mic.com, and managed the New York bureau for the Daily Dot. He writes about style, travel, technology, and music.

Laura Smith Writer

Laura Smith is the deputy editor of Departures. Previously, she was the executive editor of California magazine and has written for the New York Times, the Guardian, the Atlantic, and many more. Her nonfiction book, The Art of Vanishing, was published by Viking in 2018.

Elissa Polls Writer

Elissa Polls is the head of production for Departures. A producer who typically stays behind the scenes, she has worked with creatives from around the world, helping bring their ideas to life. Polls has over 15 years of production experience and lives in Berkeley, California.

Lisa Lok

Lisa Lok is the visuals director of Departures. A Brooklyn-based creative, she enjoys collaborating with photographers and illustrators from around the world.

Departures and American Express do not provide, endorse, or guarantee any of the items, and the sale of such items is governed by the third-party seller’s policies, terms, and conditions.

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