Out of all the kitchen ware I have in my kitchen, quality knives are what I consider the most essential part of good cooking. Food tastes better when things are cut using good knives. Ingredients are more uniformly cut, and therefore cook more evenly, blending flavors more perfectly.
My preference are Wusthof and Henkles. I mainly use Wusthof because they just feel great in my hands. But I have several Henkles that I use for different reasons. They are definitely worth the investment, they last forever.
I have other kitchen items I just couldn't do without, like good pots and a quality cutting board. What are some essentials you have in your kitchen?