Chefs, food show hosts and cookbook writers are the newest pop stars able to draw a crowd and command a following. Thursday night when Feast publisher and Feast TV producer Cat Neville introduced Jack Bishop and Julia Collin Davison it was to an overflow crowd in St. Louis.
The kitchen gurus from America’s Test Kitchen were on hand at Nine Network for what was billed as an evening about kitchen hacks, that is, tips for making things easier. (Timeout here. I want to express my annoyance for the current use of the word “hack,” that adds yet another meaning to the already over-assigned term. Thank you, I feel better.)
During the two-hour session, we also learned more about the Boston test kitchen, that dissects recipes and reconstructs them for the modern cook. The new 15,000-square foot facility employees 200 cooks, who hover each day over the kitchen’s 36 ovens. The group reviews hundreds of products and foods every year and writes books, magazines, and television shows about their findings.
We all have knives lying around the kitchen, usually dull ones. But is there a proven winner out there that’s worth a look? Jack and Julia described their favorite: a light-weight, 8” Swiss Army Fibrox ($45 at Bed, Bath & Beyond) and showed the proper way to use it to dice an onion quickly.
They also illustrated Oxo Good Grips 16” tongs ($15 at Amazon) and Kershaw Taskmaster or Shun Multipurpose Shears, (they’re both made in the same factory). All were winners in their studies. The shears double as a jar gripper, bottle opener, screwdriver, and nutcracker (about $30 at Amazon).
One of the cleverest of the
hacks tips was the use of two plastic lids with fairly deep rims. Julia put a handful of cherry tomatoes in one lid and placed the other on top. In the space left between the two lids, she ran a sharp knife horizontally through all the tomatoes, cutting them in half with one swoop.
Of course, there were books being sold. Despite the title, I couldn’t resist Cook’s Illustrated, Kitchen Hacks, How Clever Cooks Get Things Done. It’s bulging with information and illustrations. For now the book is competing with a half dozen others on my night table. When I run on to some especially clever tips, I’ll pass them on. Or you can buy the book for around $12 at Amazon.
The evening came with fine camaraderie, prizes, photos with Julia and Jack, and a goodie bag, that included a couple of long pretzels from Gus and ice cream from Ted Drewes. All for a ticket price of $15 each—that’s not bad for an entertaining evening. Hat tip to Feast’s Cat Neville and Nine Network for bringing the event to town.
More Food Events to Come
Also look for Feast/Nine Net’s upcoming Taste & See 2017, another bargain-priced evening held on the 3rd Friday of each month from May through September. Location: Public Media Commons, 3653 Olive Street. Tickets are $15 each or $60 for all 5 of the following events.
- May 19 Artisan Meats and Sweets
- June 16 Hand-Crafted Wines and Cheeses
- July 21 Experimental Kitchen
- August 18 Urban Farm to Fork
- September 15 Wild Game and Whiskey