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Southern Living’s Test Kitchen Director, Robbie Melvin shares his top essentials for his home kitchen and tips for no-fail holiday entertaining.

Southern Living's Robbie Melvin's Essentials from

I first met Southern Living’s Test Kitchen Director, Robbie Melvin in 2013 when we both judged the Cornbread Festival and we’ve since crossed paths on numerous occasions at southern food related events. Robbie’s warm personality and encyclopedic knowledge of everything food and food related immediately drew me in and makes him one of those people I could talk to endlessly about Benton’s bacon, the importance of well-seasoned cast iron, and what makes the perfect biscuit.

Keep it Simple! Cook from your soul and you can’t fail.

Being responsible for the test kitchen at Southern Living is no small task. Robbie’s rich training under James Beard award-winning chefs, time spent as a culinary school instructor, as well as his southern heritage, equip him with the know-how needed to run the South’s Most Trusted Kitchen.

I asked Robbie to share a few of his essentials for his home kitchen as well as tips for no-fail entertaining during the holidays.

What do you consider to be the top 10 essentials for your home kitchen?

  1. A good, sharp set of knives
  2. An Epicurean cutting board (small and large)
  3. A high quality set of cookware
  4. A food processor
  5. A KitchenAid mixer
  6. A box grater
  7. Tongs
  8. A good wooden spoon
  9. A rubber spatula
  10. Cookbooks!!!

 Can you share with us your favorite menu for Christmas entertaining?
A simple menu of appetizers for the Christmas Cocktail Party. I would go to our December issue, p. 120 for the amazing selection of tasty make-ahead nibbles like Bacon-Fig Tassies, Sweet Potato Tartlets, and Orange-Basil Baked Brie.

Robbie Melson's Essentials Bacon Fig Tassies from

If you could share any kitchen tip with the Add a Pinch community, what would it be?

Keep it Simple! Cook from your soul and you can’t fail.

images courtesy of Southern Living

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Robyn Stone

Robyn Stone is a wife, mom, blogger, recipe developer, and cookbook author. Welcome to Add a Pinch where I share thousands of delicious, tested and perfected easy recipes that the whole family will love.

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  1. What a great tip about keeping things simple! I seem to get so stressed out this time of year, but it always works out that the most simple, classic decorating and food choices work the best in the end!

    It would be a dream to follow him for a day and see what he does!

    Thanks so much for sharing this with us, Robyn! And thanks to Mr. Melvin for such great tips!

  2. Plan your menu; prepare as much ahead of a special dinner as possible; and most of all, relax and enjoy the time with your family and friends. The appetizers Robbie listed sound amazing!

  3. Love this article with Robbie from Southern Living’s Test Kitchen! Talk about an authority on cooking in the South!

    As far as a tip to share, try to do as much ahead as you can so that you aren’t frazzled during this most special time with your family and friends. Time with loved ones is most important!