Kitchen Tips

The Essential Kitchen Organization Tool A Best-Selling Cookbook Author Swears By

Mairlyn Smith takes us inside her tiny, colourful kitchen — including her perfect pantry.

Cookbook author, professional home economist and Second City Comedy Troupe alumna Mairlyn Smith gave us some serious kitchen envy she when welcomed us into her colourful Toronto-area home. If the Cityline regular’s immaculate pantry doesn’t inspire you to get more organized this year, nothing will.

Here’s what else we learned while crashing her kitchen.

Mairlyn Smith's organized kitchen pantry

A label maker is a lifesaver

Smith’s pantry is filled with labeled jars of grains, seeds and other goodies, which makes finding what she needs a cinch. If you don’t want to go all-out and label everything you own, consider transferring non-perishables into glass jars or containers so you can easily see what ingredients you have on hand

Mairlyn Smith showing off kitchen cupboard

Stay organized while you cook

Instead of grabbing ingredients as you go, do all your prep work before you start cooking. Chop up all your veggies, stick them in different bowls and pre-portion all of your spices and other flavour enhancers before heating up a pan or your oven. Smith has a cupboard full of small glass and bamboo bowls and containers she uses when preparing for TV shoots. However, you don’t need to be on television to adopt this habit — it can help chefs of all stripes make food faster and more efficiently.

Mairlyn Smith's spice cupboard

Keep your spices accessible

Many of us dread looking in our spice drawers or cupboards because they’re overcrowded with jars, tins, grinders, shakers and little baggies (for those of us who buy in bulk). Smith’s spice cupboard is shallow, meaning she can easily see what she has on hand.

Mairlyn Smith's kitchen drawer with boxed grater inside
Everyone needs a fun drawer

We’d recommend ditching your junk drawer, but that doesn’t mean you should get rid of the drawer that holds all your random kitchen gadgets (as long as you use them!). Smith’s holds an assortment of devices, including her grandmother’s nutmeg grater. Like our food director Sue Riedl, Smith can’t get enough of freshly grated nutmeg.

Mairlyn Smith holding a jar of sauce

There’s one ingredient that’ll up your pasta game

Smith is a big fan of flavourful condiments, including Alessia La Bomba sauce. She calls this spicy condiment filled with hot peppers, artichokes, eggplant and mushrooms the secret ingredient that makes her Italian dishes pop.