Cooking

Toolbox: Favorite Frivolous Tools

Even top chefs have a few silly kitchen gadgets they can't help but love
Chefs' Frivolous Kitchen Tools
Illustration: Kim Graziano/Tasting Table

There are the essential kitchen tools, and then there are the silly, one-task tools you know are ridiculous but can't help but love anyway (oh, hello, cherry pitter). Even the pros have their frivolous favorites. Hey, chefs are just like us!

Automatic Pepper Grinder
Edward Lee of 610 Magnolia in Louisville loves his one-handed automatic pepper grinder. "Lord, I've been using that same bulky peppermill the size of a children's baseball bat for like 20 years," he says. "I can't believe it took so long to invent this gadget. All I have to do is push down with my thumb, and I can do things with my other hand," he raves. Plus, he says, it takes up very little room and helps keep the peppercorns fresh.

Tweezers
"I enjoy giving my cooks a hard time when they bust out their tweezers for jobs that could be achieved faster with fingers," confesses Greg Denton, co-chef and -owner along with his wife, Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton, of Portland's Ox Restaurant. "But I recently used a pair in another chef's kitchen, and they worked really well for the plating we were doing. I'm about to cave in and get some for myself."

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Mandoline
Marcus Samuelsson of Red Rooster Harlem doesn't think a mandoline is 100 percent necessary, but "it really helps for versatility and speed," he says.

Falafel Press
For Alon Shaya of Domenica in New Orleans, it's simple: "Falafel is one of my favorite things to make," though he does admit that a falafel press is good for only that one job.

A Beer
"People are just too crazy about little machines and gadgets," says Charles Phan, chef and owner of The Slanted Door in San Francisco, who believes the fewer machines you have, the better. However, after giving it some thought, he laughs and names a brew as his superfluous cooking tool: "I don't need it, but it's always in my hand when I'm cooking." We'll toast to that.

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