The Only Kitchen Tools You Need, According To Michael Symon - Exclusive

Single-use tools have been cluttering up kitchens in recent years, and the truth of the matter is many professional chefs simply don't see a need for them. Alton Brown famously decries what he calls "unitaskers," but he is not the only one. Chef Michael Symon has joined the conversation. In an exclusive interview, he told Tasting Table there are only a few essential kitchen tools you need. 

"People are always like, 'What are the must-haves in a kitchen?' I'm like, 'A chef knife, a bench scraper, a rasp, and a good spoon,'" Symon said. This list may seem short, but Symon assures us it is effective. "There's nothing that you can't make with those things."

For Symon, all the gadgets in the world can't compete with simple tools. "Maybe I'm dating myself a little bit, but we're living in an era of chefs where there's so many fancy toys and I am such a simpleton in the kitchen," says Symon. He points out that many of the gadgets on the market create more work than they save. "The garlic press itself has to be the dumbest invention in the history of inventions. It takes you 10 seconds to press the garlic and four years to get the garlic out of all those little holes." Instead, he recommends using that trusty chef's knife. "Use the side of your knife as a garlic press," he said. 

Look beyond the intended use

The knife isn't the only tool Symon points out is handy for more than the original use. "A bench scrape," he says. "It helps you transport things from board to pan, so you're not trying to scoop things with your knife. It also helps you keep everything clean and organized and it costs you three bucks." Symon feels so passionately about this handy tool he gives them away any chance he gets. "I go online and buy 20 at a time and give them to people. It's like my parting gift. 'Here you go.'"

And who needs a spice grinder or a cheese grater when you have a rasp? This one tool easily takes the place of three individual pieces. "I do like a rasp because you could zest with it, you could grate spices with it, and you could grate cheese with it. You don't need a cheese grater or this or that." 

Symon has even found ways to replace more commonplace unitaskers with other standard kitchen tools. For example, he suggests using tongs as a fruit juicer. The technique is remarkably effective. "You get every single bit of juice out of it, and if you need to run it through a little mesh strainer, you do. I guarantee you I could get more juice out of fruit with my tongs than anybody can with a juicer."

Brands Micheal Symon recommends

Not every piece of equipment has to be expensive. For example, bench scrapers can be purchased for just a few dollars. However, if you are only going to get a few tools, Michael Symon says it is worth buying for quality. "I like the things that I have to be very nice," he said.

Symon has some suggestions for brands. "I am a big fan of the great Kunz spoons. I always have my little Kunz spoons on the side because they're big enough to stir with sauce with. It's such a great universal spoon." A simple Kunz spoon is both practical and relatively inexpensive. It offers a broad base with a shorter handle, making it easy to hold and use. 

As knives go, one good knife will set you up for success. "I'm a professional chef," says Symon. "I've been working in restaurants since I've been 13 years old, and 98% of what I do is with a chef knife. "Spend the money on a great chef knife instead of spending the money on a block of knives, where you only are going to use one or two of them." As high-end knives go, Symon recommends Denox and Middleton Made Knives, in addition to a quality Wusthof or an F. Dick knife, for slightly more affordable options.