Sure, it pays to have friends in high places, but we think it’s even more useful to have friends in hot places, too—namely, the kitchen. We grilled 28 chefs from across Western Canada for their pro tips, kitchen hacks and pantry essentials, and boy did they deliver. What follows is a culinary crash course: dozens of morsels of advice sure to elevate your home-cook game. Eat up.

Survey says…

Butter: salted or unsalted?
30% salted
70% unsalted

Microwaves: yay or nay?

Yay 41% “People who say no are pretentious.”
Nay 54% “Only at mom’s for leftovers.”
Depends 5% “Just for popcorn.”

Air fryers: Yay or nay?
Yay 40%
Nay 60%

Instant Pots: Yay or nay?
Yay 35%
Nay 60%
On the fence 5%

Garlic press: yay or nay?
Yay 23% “That was one of my tasks to help my mum cooking, so it’s always a great memory.”
Nay 77% “Absolute rubbish.”

Cast iron: soap or wipe out?

Wipe it out 68%
Soap, please 32%

Rice cooker or stovetop?
In a pot on the stove 32%
Rice cooker 56%
Both 12%

Of the 20 chefs who said they always wear an apron to cook, 2 agreed with the statement “I’d feel naked without it.” 

The next big trendy ingredient is…
Sea truffles
Plant-based steak
Nutritional yeast
Food made with food waste products
Tonka bean
Yuzu and spicy honey
Fish sauce
Toban djan

Most popular hot sauce, according to chefs: sriracha
Runners up: chili oil, Valentina, homemade

What are you listening to when you’re cooking?
Audiobook  4%
Music 82%
Podcasts 10%
Silence 4%



Most popular spice, according to chefs: black peppercorn
Runners up: star anise, chili, cumin

Best cooking oil?
Avocado 16%
Grapeseed  11%
Canola 32%
Olive 11%
Rice bran oil 15%
Tea oil 5%
Afraid to commit 10%


For more chef-approved kitchen tips, check out: Cook Like a Pro: 40+ Cooking Tips, Tricks and Hacks From Western Canada’s Top Chefs