Renowned chef and restaurateur Ben Ford is the executive chef and owner of Ford's Filling Station in Culver City as well as an outpost at the Los Angeles International Airport and a soon-to-be outpost at the J.W. Marriott L.A. Live in downtown Los Angeles. He worked at Chez Panisse, in Berkeley, and Campanile, in Los Angeles, before opening his own restaurant and is part of the American Chef Corps, which is a small network of chefs from across the United States who serve as Ambassadors to the Department of State. The father of two sons and a devoted family man, Ford is also committed to charitable events in the Los Angeles area and across the country, and he remains an active member of his local community.
Williams-Sonoma Smart Thermometer >
For roasting in a box, this is an absolute must-have piece of equipment. The probe allows you to keep tabs on what's cooking inside without have to lift the cover, wasting valuable heat and adding cooking time. Also, it's wireless, so it allows you to attend to other tasks while monitoring the cooking process.
Lodge Cast-Iron Dutch Oven >
The Dutch oven is perhaps the most consistent and nurturing cooking vessel known to man. It's a fact that cast iron pieces like the Dutch oven only get better with age, making them among the most cherished kitchen heirlooms in an American kitchen, often passed from generation to generation. Great for braising, baking and roasting, they are an outdoorsman's best friend because of their versatility. It makes a dang good slump as well.
Porcelain Mortar &Pestle >
For me and the mortar and pestle, it was love at first sight. I can't think of another tool in the kitchen that can create so much culinary magic. I have had my porcelain mortar and pestle from England for over 25 years and it stays on the counter, where it is used almost every day. It's great for grinding up spices as well as making pestos, tapenades and aioli.
Rösle Stainless-Steel Fine Tongs >
There is a fine, more refined side to me that loves these little tongs. I first started seeing these in the hands of my hipster cooks and I had to have them. I find myself reaching for them almost more than any other tool in my kitchen.
Cuisinart Spice &Nut Grinder >
Whole spices retain their natural oils a lot longer than pre ground spices, which for the most part don't retain their flavor after a couple of months. This can be a huge problem when cooking from measured recipes, which were tested with fresh spices full of flavor.
Global Classic Cleaver >
A good meat cleaver can come in handy for a variety of jobs where you need to tackle a bone. I like manly tools and this – next to my meat saw and blowtorch – is as manly as it gets.
Stainless-Steel Smoker Box >
The smoker box is the one tool that can afford the gas griller an opportunity to impart the flavor you expect from a backyard cookout. It's also a fun tool to use when trying to introduce flavors other than just wood. Instead of wood chips, try dried tea or soak fresh thyme and add it to the box; it can smolder inside the box, saving you a big cleanup.
Rösle Stainless-Steel Charcoal Chimney >
These are a no-brainer for the backyard cookout enthusiast. Charcoal chimneys are an easy way to get things rolling with a perfect fire. Adding raw charcoal to a fire can lower the temperature and lead to inconsistent results. Adding charcoal that's ready to go to an already active fire means better-tasting food and an easier time for the griller.