1. Mac, the knife

A friend couldn’t believe that I spent a fortune on my Japanese knives. Why, she asked, when most restaurant chefs would use ordinary $10 knives. What she didn’t know, of course, was that those were restaurant-supplied knives. What restaurateur in his right mind would invest in expensive knives that he knew would simply be thrown around in the kitchen by the commis and mindlessly tossed into the dishwasher by the busboys?

If I had a maid, if I didn’t have to cut and chop the food myself, if I didn’t yet know the deep, inexplicable pleasure of feeling the blade slice ever so smoothly through a tomato, if I hadn’t ever held a knife with such reassuring heft and balance, then an inexpensive knife would certainly do.

2. Le Creuset Dutch Oven

One word: adobo.

I swear nothing’s as perfect for cooking adobo and our other vinegary stews as an enamelled cast-iron dutch oven. Somehow, stainless steel taints the dish with a subtle, but off-putting “tinny” taste, close to that of raw vinegar. This is where I cooked my best adobo yet, and two other dishes I had cooked before – Moroccan beef stew and  kare-kare – also turned out much better, with more intensified, well-blended flavors.

Why Le Creuset? Well, it’s a classic that’s been around long enough to trust (86 years, to be exact). And it’s still produced in a foundry in France, using time-tested sand casting methods, finished by hand and sprayed with 2 coats of enamel, each fired at 800°C. That’s solid, single-piece construction which, in the kitchen, translates to even heat distribution, the kind we need for slow-cooking, braising or roasting.

I’m told I can even bake bread in it!

3. Nespresso Coffee Maker

First, I fell in love with the design.

Then I marvelled at the engineering. Just power on, pop a pod, push a button. No more fumbling with the coffee jar, no more eternities to wait for until the coffee steeps. No surprises; my coffee would taste the same each time, not bolder nor blander than the day before or the next. Best of all, no more coffee moments marred by having to trash the dregs or hose them down the drain.

There’s more to mornings, and life, than struggling to make a perfect cup. I’d rather try perfecting a sunnyside-up.

4. Le Creuset Butter Bell

Trust the French to find a way to keep butter fresh and spreadable, for up to 30 days without refrigeration. It’s such simple science – all a butter bell (also called butter crock) needs is about half a cup of cold, fresh water and a cool spot on your countertop.

No longer ripping my toast with hard, refrigerated butter… wow, that’s life-changing.

5. Ikea Dinera Dinnerware

They look and feel like the Noritake Colorwave Stoneware set I have in Manila. But at $2 a piece, they don’t break my heart everytime I break a bowl or a cup.