Chefs tend to ignore kitchen gadgets, but they find a few useful. | Eat + Drink
It’s almost impossible to ward off the echoes of the Veg-O-Matic commercials – ‘it slices, it cuts’ (sorry, I couldn’t help myself) – when you come across shelves of corn kernel strippers, balers. tuna and others.
According to database company Statista, Americans will have spent $ 17.6 billion on kitchen gadgets by the end of 2021. This follows a lockdown that has seen people eager to fill the hours, which increased sales of household items by 25% in the previous year.
Yet professional chefs are not overly enthusiastic about the usefulness of such items. Ronco’s famous Veg-O-Matic earned a spot in the National Museum of American History’s exhibit on the transformation of the dinner table. He sliced ââand diced well, but the chefs remain skeptical.
âYou just need a good kitchen knife and a blender,â says chef Rudolfo Ponce, owner of Rudolfo’s Cafe in Pacific Grove. “Get a break-in rod and you’re good to go.” “
What – no Hutzler 571B banana slicer? No shredding tongs for wannabe Freddy Krueger? No pliers? Americans crave drawer jokes.
“Just very good sharp knives,” reiterates Anthony Carnazzo from StationÃ¦ry in Carmel.
This is usually the mantra of cooking pros. Fundamental tools that have proven themselves over the years trump the absurd. Yet because they work in a hectic environment, chefs understand the appeal of shortcuts.
Billy Quon, owner of the popular Sur in Carmel, recommends a spherical silicone ice cream maker. A single large mass of ice is preferable to traditional ice cubes because it melts more slowly. This allows a more homogeneous temperature, which is a plus. The biggest advantage – for the consumer – is that it is less likely to dilute the alcohol.
Quon is also a fan. âWe go through about 15 to 20 spheres a day for our specialty bourbon drinks,â he says. âIt makes a really good impression on the guests. I’m glad they did, because I hate doing them.
For the freezer, the spherical molds cost between $ 5 and $ 30. But the machines are able to turn water into the perfect scoop of ice cream in minutes – the wow factor Quon mentioned. But it comes at a price. Expect to shell out at least three digits. Some machines run into credit checking territory.
Not for you? No problem. Sur’s owner has a more manageable suggestion: âthat little gadget,â he said, gesturing to a set of herbal scissors. “We use it and we love it.”
Herb scissors are simply multi-blade scissors that could probably be used for shredding paper (probably not that useful on hair). They easily cut herbs, celery, green onions, kale, chili peppers and other items into even pieces without the need for a cutting board. Yes, all of this can be done with a chef’s knife, but it’s all about efficiency. And the prices hover between $ 10 and $ 15.
Chefs are careful with some items, even if they come in handy. âI would stay away from the mandolin,â said Ponce. “We use it here all the time, but it’s very dangerous.”
The mandolin is a device that shaves meats and vegetables into wispy ribbons, something almost impossible to do with this much-vaunted knife. Yet he is also quite willing to peel multiple layers of skin.
Instead, Ponce prefers to suggest a vacuum machine. âIt’s like $ 100 and it’s useful,â he says. Modern editions of the device might even boast of having an app – “You can set it up on your phone,” Ponce adds, conjuring up an image of chefs casually sipping mimosas in outdoor cafes while their breasts 4 pm pork drifting into a saucepan.
Other chef-approved gadgets include immersion blenders, tortilla presses, pasta rollers, and – for the more pretentious hipsters – a mortar and pestle.
But with Americans addicted to gadgets to the tune of some 300 million items a year, there is clearly a demand for omelet makers (why bother with a regular pan?), Automatic pot shakers (spoons can be heavy), banana slicers (over 5,000 customer reviews) and those tidy tongs (you can search for them).
âThey have the strangest things,â says Ponce.