So You Want To Be A Waiter

The best book on waiting tables that you have never read – yet

Kitchen tool of the day – chinoise

Chinoise. French for Chinese. Sometimes also called China Cap. Why? Because it resembles a sort of chinese headgear. However, strictly speaking, a China cap has the same shape but doesn’t have mesh. Instead, the metal cone has punched-out perforations. Or, it can be smooth and just basically be a funnel with a narrow opening.

Chinois. Essential for making velvet-smooth sauces. Needed for top-notch creamy soups like bisques.



China cap:


A Chinois or China cap is a little different than a colander or other strainer. It’s shaped like a cone. A strainer can have mesh, but it’s usually bowl haped.

A good Chinois is fairly expensive. Expect to pay from $25 – $50 for a good stainless steel one. They will last a lifetime if you care for them carefully. Always wash them out thoroughly and keep from rapping the mesh against a sharp surface. Make sure you dry them throughly after washing. Try to get one that at least has hooks on the lip for holding on to a container. You can also buy close-fitting stands for them, and some come with such a stand. You should also have a wooden muddler (a hand-held blunt wooden cone-shape item similar to the pestle in a motar and pestle set.) 

If you’re serious about cooking, your kitchen will have at least one of these. You should also have colanders and strainers. Colanders are important for draining things like pastas, cooked potatoes or anything that’s larger and needs to shed water. They also come in handy for steaming vegetables if you don’t have a dedicated vegetable steamer. A strainer comes in handy for the same purpose, and it works well to pre-strain a course sauce or liquid before you hit the chinois. Always try to get stainless steel whenever possible to avoid rust issues and to make it easy to clean them. However, a plastic colander works OK if you never use it for sauces which can stain it. If it can stain, it can also retain odor.

If you want the ultimate in straining for extremely fine sauces, use a cheesecloth with a Chinois.

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