Pay a visit to any store that specializes in specialized kitchen devices, and you’ll get to thinking that no kitchen is complete without a full stable of high-concept, highfalutin tools that end up being completely unnecessary in reality. We asked more than 15 professional chefs which kitchen tools they never use, and their answers might surprise you.
Restaurant kitchens and home kitchens are completely different animals in many ways, but for the most part, many of the essential tools of the trade remain the same. “Home kitchens tend to be more about form over function,” Blue Ribbon chef Eric Bromberg told us, and Dinosaur BBQ founder John Stage agreed. “The difference in kitchens is usually efficiency, flow, and respect for knives,” he added. “Professional kitchens are also free of crappy gadgets!”
If you’re looking to run your home kitchen like a professional one, there are a few tips to keep in mind. "The best way to commercialize your home kitchen is to increase the counter space and blast the oven,” Andrew Gruel, the chef/owner of Slapfish in Huntington Beach, Calif., told us. “Restaurant kitchens don't have trinkets everywhere and the stoves are blasting hot."
“Keep it simple, but be sure to have a few high-quality sharp knives, one or two cutting boards, and an assortment of measuring utensils,” Cynthia Kallile, the owner of Chicago’s The Meatloaf Bakery, added. “But sometimes, it's just too hard to resist a new gadget, even if it's never used!"
Which common kitchen tools do chefs consider completely extraneous? Read on to learn about the 13 gadgets no professional chefs actually use, and take the advice of chef Imran Ali of London’s Michelin-starred Tamarind: the most important tool of all isn’t even a physical one.
“There is no more essential a tool in any kitchen than knowledge,” he told us. “You could have the best equipment and tools in the world's best kitchen, but if you don't know your food and you don't know your ingredients and how they come together, then you won't be able to make even the simplest of dishes.”
1. Pasta removers
“I think that it is unnecessary to have any tool in the kitchen for taking pasta out of water besides tongs. For instance, the pasta spoon/fork that is in most home kitchens. If I make pasta at home, I want to be as efficient as possible. The pasta spoon method is too time-consuming. I usually use tongs to remove the pasta into the pasta sauce, or I reserve some of the cooking water and then strain the pasta into a colander in the sink.” — Sarah Grueneberg, upcoming restaurant Monteverde (Chicago)
2. Avocado knives
Chef Manny Arce of Poquitos in Seattle never uses specific knives for avocados; they can be cut just fine with a regular knife.
3. Lettuce knife
Chef Arce also eschews knives specifically intended for cutting lettuce; a regular sharp knife works just as well.
4. Garlic press
More chefs agreed that the garlic press was useless than any other tool.
“I don’t know anyone that uses one.” — John Stage, Dinosaur BBQ (New York City)
“It seems like every home cook has one or wants one, but here are two simple techniques for crushing garlic without a press: The first, I learned from my mother. Simply place the peeled garlic clove in a small bowl (or use a mortar and pestle), add a small pinch of salt and take the end of a knife or the pestle and pound it until it's mashed! It's easy, fast, and better than punching a pillow (great for relieving tension)! The other method uses the flat side of a chef's knife and a cutting board. Smash the clove with the flat side of the blade (safely, using your fingers to guide the blade) until it's thoroughly crushed. A bit of salt on the garlic helps with this too.” — Cynthia Kallile, The Meatloaf Bakery (Chicago)
“What did that poor garlic do to you? Just throw [that garlic press] away. Now.” — Greg Baker, The Refinery (Tampa, Fla.)
"A knife does a better job. And most of the time you need a knife after using the device to chop the garlic finer. So we are wasting energy and creating more things to wash.” — Christopher Lee, The Forge (Miami, Fla.)
5. Toaster oven
"Really? Nothing fits in it except a piece of bread, which it doesn't toast properly." — Ethan Stowell, Ethan Stowell Restaurants (Seattle)
6. Rabbit wine opener
You’ll most likely only see traditional wine keys at restaurants.
Owning one of these is basically announcing that you are lacking in another area, if you catch my drift." — Ethan Stowell, Ethan Stowell Restaurants, (Seattle)
Check out more kitchen tools that chefs never use.
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