For some aspiring chefs, buying a bunch of new kitchenware is essentially a way of throwing their hat over the wall. “Now that I’ve spent all this money on crockpots and meat thermometers and immersion blenders, it sure would be pathetic to relapse to frozen pizzas,” I suppose the thinking goes. But any cooking utensil is only as good as the chef who wields it, and I’d wager that gearing up above one’s culinary means results in a cabinetful of dusty appliances more often than it does any sort of revelation in the kitchen. Yes, it seems much more sensible to let these things happen naturally, steadily accumulating pieces of cookware over time. And if you’re still curious about what sorts of palette-shocking, life-changing tools could be in store for you in years to come, just let this infographic tide you over.
“The Cartography of Kitchenware” is the latest work from the good compulsive people over at Pop Chart Lab, a densely arranged chart with illustrations for just about every tool a chef could ever need. There are over 200 items in all, grouped according to function. Top-level categories include “Those that protect,” “Those that manipulate,” “Those that measure,” and more, with each including its own various subcategories. In the realm of “Those that measure,” for example, things are divided among “volume measuring,” “thermal readings,” “weighing,” and timing. The exhaustive graphic covers everything from the wok to the waffle iron, covering no less than four different types of spatulas in between.
As it happened, the graphic grew out of one of the Pop Chart’s earlier efforts, “The Splendiferous Array of Culinary Tools,” a similar map with over a hundred items that would look totally comprehensive next to just about anything besides this new version. But that first effort merely covered “the basic tools of the kitchen,” says Will Prince, Pop Chart’s production editor. “We wanted to dig deeper,” he explains. “The pots, the bakeware, the heating mechanisms, and the gadgets. The many, many gadgets.” The way he says it, it sounds a little nefarious. I fear for the food.
In preparation for putting the graphic together, Prince and company created a comprehensive list of items, scouring the web and making sure they had a handle on even the most nuanced families of utensils. “We educated ourselves on the differences between, say, a pressure cooker, a slow cooker, and a sous-vide,” he recalls, cutting a path through cooking blogs, recipe sites, and the ever-useful Bed Bath and Beyond online store along the way.
Unfortunately, just like buying cookware won’t necessarily make you a better chef, cataloging it won’t, either. “None of us are any better at cooking than we were before,” says Prince. “We still order delivery way too much.”