Chefs are known for being picky about the tools they use in the kitchen. And most, if not all, have their favorites. If you were told you could only have one kitchen tool to work with, what would it be? While you’re thinking about that, check out this roundup of answers from 8 celebrity chefs. What do you think?
Chef Daniel Humm, co-owner of Eleven Madison Park and The Nomad, says his pick would be a sharp knife. He prefers knives made in his native country of Switzerland by Victorinox, which is also known for its red-handled Swiss army knives. Julia Child is also reported to have named sharp knives as her must-have, but the ever-self-sufficient Ms. Child also suggested a tool to sharpen them.
Chef and restaurateur Yotam Ottolenghi, of Ottolenghi and Nopa in London, likes his masher – and one in particular. In an interview with The Guardian, he says, “For years I struggled with all sorts of mashers, then I found the Masterclass potato ricer. It fits in a drawer, it’s easy to handle and clean, and creates a mega-smooth mash. I now use it for mashing all my root vegetables.”
French chef and restaurateur Daniel Boulud finds many uses for his microplane zester. According to this world-renowned chef, it’s great for finely grating black truffle. You can also use it for hard cheeses, nutmeg, chocolate, gingerroot and more.
James Beard award-winning pastry chef Mindy Segal, owner of Hot Chocolate Restaurant and Dessert Bar in Chicago recommends an oven thermometer so you can see how true to temperature your oven is running and find the spots that might be cooler or warmer.
Not surprisingly, Italian chef and restaurateur Lidia Bastianich says she can’t be without a skimmer. With it, chefs can fish food such as pasta from pots of boiling water. And if you do a lot of deep frying, you know how helpful it is to remove solid food and food particles from hot oil.
The favorite tool in chef Dan Barber’s arsenal is simply a spoon. The Blue Hill at Stone Barns co-owner – and multiple James Beard award winner – uses it for flipping ingredients in a pan, tasting sauces and for plating.
Television personality and food show host Alton Brown is never without a sturdy pair of spring-loaded tongs. In his book, EveryDayCook, he writes: “The standard-issue, non-locking spring-loaded tongs…are so indispensable that many line cooks often refer to them as ‘my hands.’”
Finally, Swedish-raised chef and restaurateur Marcus Samuelsson cites the mortar and pestle as his must-have. It’s not just useful for pulverizing peppercorns and other whole spices for rubs and pastes. You can also mash nuts, make mustard, make coarse salt finer, and crush coffee beans and chocolate.