What are the secret tools chef's use to make cooking faster, easier, and more fun? These 6 gadgets are well-known in restaurants, but they might be missing from your home kitchen. These are essential for the best cooks, whether you're a healthy vegan, a gluten-free vegetarian, or a meat-loving carnivore. Affordable at under $30, they make great gifts for any budget.
1) Swiss Peeler
I know what you're saying..."Chef Katie, I already have a peeler". Have you ever tried a Swiss peeler? Unlike the traditional swivel peelers that most of have, Swiss peelers fit your hand more naturally. They put less strain on your wrist, which helps prevent kitchen injury as well as improve your peeling speed and efficiency.
I'm also guessing that you've never sharpened your vegetable peeler, and you've probably had it for over 5 years. You're due for a new one anyway. Try out these colorful Swiss peelers from Kuhn Rikon. A 3-pack is under $10.
2) Sharp Paring Knives...with Covers
A sharp paring knife is essential for my own cooking. In fact, this is one of the few kitchen tools I'll pack even when I'm backpacking on traveling overseas. It's essential to have a cover for your knives: This not only protects you from getting cut; it also protects the blade from going dull.
This 3-set from Zyliss offers different sizes and protective covers, all at an affordable price. While I've seen fancy Japanese sushi-grade paring knives for over $100, this little set will last you at least 5 years and can tackle almost any recipe.
3) Bird's Beak Knife
A Bird's Beak knife is named for beak-like shape of the blade. This curved blade comes in quite handy when tackling the round shape of so many fruits and vegetables. This knife helps when trimming artichokes, peeling kiwi, and even hulling the stems off of tomatoes and strawberries.
This particular brand is the same one I've had since I started culinary school, almond 8 years ago. I sharpen it once a month, but it's lasted me through multiple kitchens and endless cases of artichokes...
4) Off-Set Spatula
I saw a recent article on Kitchn.com about the 7 tools Chef's Take With Them, and the offset spatula made the list. This tiny, little gadget is mainly used for frosting cupcakes and cookies, but I've found I use it for so much more. It's great for evenly spread batter into a brownie pan, smearing hummus onto cucumber chips (makes an elegant appetizer!) and moving mini veggie-sliders. I even use it for flipping little veggies on the grill or in the pan: everything from mushroom caps to eggplant discs, to little Oatmeal Raisin pancakes.
I'm curious to hear of your own uses for this little wonder-tool. Please share in the comments below!
5) Japanese Mandolin
For anyone who doesn't like using a knife, this is a must-have tool. It makes quick work of so many healthy foods:
6) The Electronic Splurge: Immersion Blender
At $27 this is the "Splurge" item on the list. This is one of my favorite gifts to give to new cooks or as a wedding gift. It takes up minimal space, but it makes cooking quick and safe. Usually, when pureeing a hot soup, you would have to transfer it to a blender. Not only are you risking burns by ladling from the pot into the blender, but you are also sending a prayer to the cooking gods that the blender doesn't explode when you turn on the motor to puree.
This little electronic solves that issue. No transferring hot liquids. No need to pray to the blender gods. Plus, it easily breaks apart for cleaning in the dishwasher. I will even use it puree up a big batch of cocktails -- stick it right in a plastic pitcher and it will buzz-up ice, alcohol, and your favorite mix-ins to create a well-blended batch of your favorite drink.
There are many choices of motor-power, but for most home cooks this version will offer plenty blending power. It's a great tool, and it's reasonably priced. If you don't have one, it's well-worth the investment.
The List Recap :
Sharp Paring Knives...with Covers
Bird's Beak Knife
There you have it! My 6 kitchen tools that will help make your life easier. Buy all of them for under $100, and let the cooking fun begin!
About the Author:
Chef Katie Simmons
Katie is a Personal Chef based in Chicago. She specializes in creating delicious, healthy recipes for those with special dietary concerns like gluten-free, oil-free, plant-based, and low-residue. Outside of the kitchen, she is a Fitness Instructor for Equinox, with over 13 years experience in the fitness industry, and a blogger for Kuli Kuli Foods. For fun, she loves to travel, with her favorite trips including 4-days on the Incan Trail, 10 days of hiking in the Patagonia of Argentina and Chile, 5 months backpacking in New Zealand, and recently exploring the Bavarian pretzels, beer, and wine of Germany.