Spring Clean Your Kitchen
Our chefs share their tried-and-true tips on confronting this season’s most dreaded chore.
The trees are budding, the flowers are blooming and your kitchen is thirsting for a deep-clean makeover. Lucky for you, we’ve picked the brains of our masterful chefs for their top tips on how best to tackle this tedious endeavour. From rallying the clan to repurposing stale ingredients, our resident kitchen experts share the low-down on transforming your cooking space from grimy to gleaming.
WHEN IN DOUBT, SPELL IT OUT
Before you get your hands dirty, assess your space and write down your to-do’s. “Starting from one end of the kitchen, note the areas that need deep-cleaning, touch-ups or repair,” says Chef de Cuisine Miheer Shete of Jump. “Once you have a master list of everything that needs your attention, you can prioritize the tasks.” Don’t forget the often overlooked areas, like high shelves and the gaps between your countertops and appliances!
CHOP IT UP
A little ambition never hurt anyone, but your energy levels might benefit from distributing your kitchen overhaul over several days. “I like to do one thing at a time,” says Chef de Cuisine Vanessa Belanger of Beaumont Kitchen. “During the week I try and tackle one big thing either after work or on my days off, like vacuuming and washing the floors, or cleaning out the fridge.” Once the more labour-intensive tasks are done and dusted, the rest of your list will seem a lot less daunting.
USE IT OR LOSE IT
If you can’t remember the last time you used an appliance or ingredient in your kitchen, it’s probably time to toss it or give it away. “Go through your drawers and bins,” Chef Miheer advises. “These are the places we normally put things that we say we’ll deal with later, but over time you end up collecting a lot of junk. If something is broken, see if you can fix it, and if it can’t be fixed, throw it away.”
TRIM YOUR WASTE LINE
In the spirit of limiting food waste, or avoiding it altogether, Chef de Cuisine Jason Oszoli of O&B Caters recommends transforming your week-old produce into pickles or jams. “Asian Pickles by Karen Solomon has great recipes and a wide range of ingredients to choose from,” he adds. In the same vein, liven up your rice and quinoa dishes by creating new seasonings from leftover spices, or toss together a hearty salad using those extra non-perishable cans of beans.
IT TAKES A VILLAGE
“My entire family helps out with the cooking, cleaning, shopping and organizing of my kitchen,” says Chef de Cuisine Omar McLeod of Oliver & Bonacini Café Grill, Bayview Village. Not only does delegating tasks among your family members speed up the cleaning process, but your loved ones will – if they don’t already – appreciate the importance of a neat, tidy space and hopefully help you keep it that way!
MR. CLEAN, MEET MR. GREEN
Some of the cheapest, safest and most environmentally friendly cleaning agents are ingredients you likely already own. Mix equal parts white vinegar and water, and spray onto almost any surface (except for marble, granite or wood). Baking soda has infinite uses including cleaning ovens, scrubbing off burned food and scorched pans, and eliminating odour. If you prefer an all-purpose store-bought cleaning solution, Chef Jason recommends CLR Bathroom & Kitchen Cleaner. “It’s better for the environment and gets the job done.”
CONSISTENCY IS KEY
As you step back to admire the achievement that is your squeaky-clean kitchen, remember that the key to keeping that sparkle is regular maintenance. “If you leave things lying around or let dishes pile up in the sink, it’s easy to keep putting it off until you ‘feel like it,’” says Chef Vanessa. “I think one of the most important things is cleaning as you go – that way you don’t end up with huge mess to clean because you left it for so long.” Wipe down your countertops daily, mop the floor weekly and declutter your storage spaces monthly – you’ll thank yourself next spring!
Whether it’s after your spring scrub-down or during, you deserve to destress! “I really enjoy opening up all the windows and letting the fresh air in,” says Chef de Cuisine Bill Osborne of Biff’s Bistro. “With a crisp glass of white wine and a good record on, I try to stress as little as possible, focusing on one thing at a time without thinking about what’s next or how much is left. Just enjoy the music, wine and fresh air.”