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“A great kitchen is organized and intuitive” and other insights from Top Chef’s Joe Sasto

Joe Sasto has done a lot in a little amount of time. He’s cooked at San Francisco’s top restaurants (including Quince and Lazy Bear). He participated in two seasons of Top Chef on Bravo, where he made memorably ingenious dishes. He launched his own culinary business (we highly, highly recommend his online cooking courses; they’re great for the everyday chef). And he even found time with the FORM team -- over his signature morning coffee beverage -- to talk about his kitchen thoughts, tips, and rituals. Enjoy!

FORM Design Team

July 23, 2020

kitchen design

Joe Sasto has done a lot in a little amount of time. He’s cooked at San Francisco’s top restaurants (including Quince and Lazy Bear). He participated in two seasons of Top Chef on Bravo, where he made memorably ingenious dishes. He launched his own culinary business (we highly, highly recommend his online cooking courses; they’re great for the everyday chef). And he even found time with the FORM team -- over his signature morning coffee beverage -- to talk about his kitchen thoughts, tips, and rituals. Enjoy!


It Starts with a Frothy, Latte-Like Oat Milk Coffee

Chef Sasto is both wildly creative and meticulous (more on his NASA-inspired kitchen organization later). And his daily coffee routine certainly reflects both his creativity and meticulousness.

“First, I don’t like to grind beans every day, so I grind a batch for the week. Every morning, I scoop three scoops -- I don’t know the exact size of my scoop, but three is my number -- into a French press, always adding a pinch of salt. After I brew in the French press, I pour the coffee right into a blender and blend with oat milk, reishi mushrooms, and monk fruit sweetener until it’s like a frothy latte.”

“And I need my coffee to always be hot, so once I finish blending, I immediately pour it into a thermos. Throughout the morning, I carefully pour out small amounts into my mug so it doesn’t go cold. And yes, I do this every morning, haha.”

Setting Up Your Kitchen and Yourself for Success

Since Joe’s home kitchen has fully become his work kitchen, he might have a few extra items than the ordinary homeowner -- including a dehydrator, an induction burner than can be dialed into an exact degree, and three refrigerators (one for pickling, one for events, and one for everyday living). 

But he has some fundamental kitchen rules that we all should consider.

First, is the layout and organization. “Your kitchen has to be organized and intuitive. If you’re standing at the stove, you should have your utensils stored within reach, right where you expect them to be. You need that ease and intuitive flow throughout the kitchen -- it frees you up.”

“I take it one step further and knoll. K-N-O-L-L. It is a style of arranging items in right angles that was developed in NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. It really helps me clear my mind. ABK. Always be knolling.”Second tip: “If you can invest in the right cooking equipment, do so. That doesn’t mean spending thousands upon thousands on knives. But having really quality cookware and the essential tools will make you more confident and add more joy to the cooking experience.”

Finally: “Understand the ‘why’ behind a recipe, not just the ‘how.’ If it calls for just yolks and not the whole egg, discover why. This will help you really understand cooking and boost your ability to improvise and take chances. And if you screw up, the worst thing that’s going to happen is you’re going to have dinner.”

His Thoughts on Inspiration and Creativity

Chef Sasto continues to find ways to be inspired around the kitchen. Right now, it’s through his online cooking classes. “I love seeing home cooks learning the craft. I always learn something new by seeing that fresh perspective. It’s like a two-way street, where I impart knowledge and vice versa -- it’s great.”

And when I asked him what creativity really means to him, since it’s such a hallmark of his cuisine, I perhaps heard my favorite definition: “It’s thought-provoking in the best ways and creates and evokes memories. It gives you something that reminds you of something else in a way that you haven’t experienced before. That’s what inspires my cooking.”

His Online Classes 

Here’s a link (experiences.chefsfeed.com/chef-joe-sasto) to his classes. They’re incredibly fun and engaging and great for all skill levels. And he really goes into the “why’s” of the food, so you boost your creativity and confidence. You also get a recipe card and ingredient list, so you can really set off on your own to cook great meals.

"We believe that good design improves people's lives. We focus on personalization, performance, and peace of mind."

Co-founders Danny and Tom

Danny Soos & Tom Sherman

FORM Co-Founders

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