The Big Question
Five renown chefs were asked which kitchen tools they favored. Now that’s a tough question for any cook, because it’s hard to narrow it down to one item. But these professional cooks gamely complied.
I wasn’t surprised by their answers. One said mortar and pestle (Though my grandson uses mine more than I do.) When I use a mortar and pestle, I always think of the weird witches in Macbeth, stirring a cauldron and repeating: “Eye of newt, and toe of frog, wool of bat, and tongue of dog, adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting, lizard’s leg, and owlet’s wing.“
A Kitchen Crutch
Another chef said he favored an immersion blender, that’s great for turning out creamy soups. One chef picked his fine set of Japanese knives, especially the wide blade cleaver. He even used the cleaver to peel vegetables, though it seemed very awkward. A potato peeler would be faster and safer.
The Versatile Microplane
Two of the chefs chose the microplane. This grater-on-a-stick eases many a kitchen task. Both chefs sited its versatility in grating garlic, ginger, chocolate, Parmesan cheese, and spices, such as whole nutmeg, and cinnamon sticks. Zesting lemons, limes and oranges is a breeze. You can also make fluffy cheese curls, that melt nicely.
The chefs recommended replacing a microplane every few year, since it will get dull over time. Like a serrated knife it can’t be sharpened.
The handle on my much-used microplane keeps slipping off, so I have to hold it gingerly. I’m thinking this could be fixed with a bit of glue. On the other hand, a replacement is overdue, so I might just shuffle it to the back of my utensil drawer. Then, pop for a new one with sharper teeth and a sturdier handle.
On line, I checked for more chef-favored kitchen tools. Rachel Ray likes her extra large cutting board. She uses it over the sink so she can chop and drop. Giada De Laurentiis goes for a OXO Good Grip Wooden Spoon. While Yotam Ottolenghi favors a potato ricer for creamy, cooked root vegetables. The ricer makes for “mega smooth” potatoes, he said.
Chef Favorites Under $50
Chefs picked kitchen scissors, metal mixing bowls, bench scraper (used for handling dough and moving chopped veggies easily from chop block to pot). Also mentioned: silicone spatulas, (that don’t scratch pans) and cake testers, (when you want to know what’s going on inside a cake or to check vegetables for doneness).
Another must-have for the serious cook is a mandoline, that can turn out even slices quickly and safely. There’s one kitchen helper I don’t have: a knife sharpening stone or whetstone. (This one’s on my kitchen bucket list.)
When I thought about my favorites, I couldn’t pick just one. I prefer certain items at different times, depending on when and what I’m cooking. In the summer I’m constantly reaching for my serrated tomato knife. At Thanksgiving, it’s my potato ricer. When making soup, I love cutting the vegetables on my new Boos 12x16x2-inch cutting board. For taking honey from a jar, I find it fun to use a honey dipper. I use my cast iron skillet nearly every day.
As you can see, I’m a gadget junkie, which explains why my utensil drawers and countertops are overrun. Despite my affinity for kitchen gadgetry, I still peel ginger with a spoon and shake garlic skin loose in a Mason jar.