Tools of the Trade: The Hottest Kitchen Equipment of 2010

by Jessica Dukes
November 2010

If you’re a chef, chances are you’re in love with the high-def gloss of a new white plate, the crinkle of wrapping material being unpacked from a box marked "delivery", and the hum and whir of newly installed kitchen hardware. And you’re probably curious to know what Tools of the Trade we’ve picked out for 2010. This is our seventh issue in this series, and after seven years, we’re still finding new smart additions to any chef’s command center. Perhaps you’re planning to do a little equipment redux this year. Maybe you’re opening a new restaurant and have a brand new budget to play around with (and a few new gray hairs to deal with). Or simply, you just love this stuff. Whatever the case may be, if you’re looking for chefs’ secret weapons—the tools of the trade, then read on.

 

Bravo Trittico Executive

1. Trittico Executive Gelato Machine

If you were at the ICC this year, then sooner or later you found yourself at the Pre-Gel booth—where they concocted meltingly smooth, creamy gelato. And the vroom behind that velvety softness was all Bravo. It’s easy, it’s quick (try 8 to 10 minutes a batch), it’s got nifty cooling techniques, it’s two machines in one (heating and cooling): it’s the Trittico Executive. If you watched the World Pastry Cup on Tivo, (Happy 20th anniversary, Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie!), you saw the Bravo Trittico Executive put to the test by pastry chefs from around the world, and send France over the top (for the 11th year. Go USA 2011!).

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Meiko USA - Vacuum-less Waste System

2. Vacuum-less Waste System

You know you’re a conscientious chef when you’re asked what tool you’d love to have in the kitchen and your answer is steeped with environmental and health concerns, worries about the reduction of labor costs, and time economy. And if you have Meiko's new AZP 80, you can be conscientious and self-satisfied all at once (a really delicious feeling). The AZP 80 is a high-capacity vacuum-less waste system that reduces food and mixed waste volume by up to 85%. Imagine the mad scientist in you cackling with glee over small, fluffy piles of reduced waste pulp. Leaky, offensive garbage bags that lead invariably to wanton smoke breaks by the dumpster will be a thing of the past.

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Paderno PFOA-Free Pans

3. PFOA-Free Pans

Everyone loves non-stick aluminum fry pans; they’re easy to clean, easy to care for, and they provide great heat conductivity. Plus, they’re a must for low-fat, healthful cooking since they require little or no oil or butter. Too bad that research has shown that a chemical used to bond the non-stick coating to the pan, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)—also known as C-8—is most likely carcinogenic. The EPA even backed legislation that bans the use of PFOA in manufacture by 2015. Luckily for chefs everywhere, the folks at Paderno got an early start and developed a line of PFOA-free pans, reinforced with titanium and designed with removable, heat resistant handles for the professional kitchen.

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John Koerner & Company - Noon 50

4. Sous Vide Machine

Sous vide has made leaps and bounds since George Pralus first cried “Eureka!” in the 1970s, as he splashed bain marie water everywhere. From the Spaniards to the French, to the restaurant that just opened up on your block, it seems that these days, the culinary world is hell-bent on putting the latest techniques in low-temp cooking to use. The Noon 50 from Koerner’s 100% Chef line of products has made another leap ahead with significant structural modifications in performance, power, operating time control and programming, and internal and external food temperature measurement. It offers specific programs for repeat cooking, a precisely even temperature distribution in the water regardless of the container used, and a bunch of new and nifty accessories and services designed for chefs who’ve given feedback on their problems with the until-now sous vide status quo.

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Steelite International - Terramesa Series

5. Earth to Table Chinaware

Presentation style is ever-evolving, with chefs like Alain Passard always on the “rim” of new techniques, Michael Voltaggio’s plating workshop Porcelain Canvas: Eating with Your Eyes at this year's ICC, and talk of a plating competition at the 2011 ICC. Good thing Steelite International is evolving too. And they've just come out with a new line of Terramesa chinaware that responds to the earth-to-table movement, combining the durability of vitrified tableware with the crafted elegance of stoneware. A forward-thinking outlook like this is why the little company that could from Burslem near Stoke-on-Trent has grown to be a world leader in tableware over the last near-thirty years. It has been a stalwart companion to chefs since its inception, providing the immaculate backdrop to anything from ribeye to corn sorbet to the Poached Lobster with Butter Lettuce and Pomegranate Snow that we recently tasted at The Royce in Los Angeles with Chef David Feau. Steelite plates aren't the chinaware of choice at The Royce at The Langham Hotel or The Four Seasons for nothing, since the Steelite R&D department designs their wares with chefs in mind.

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iSi Whipper

6. Whipper

This year, StarChefs surveyed hundreds of industry professionals and found that 78% of respondents use whippers and foamers in their kitchens. The technique may have started with Ferran Adría, but nowadays you’ve got Johnny Iuzzini using an iSi Whipper for his consommés and Paul Leibradt using one for a salt cod espuma. Liquid Chef Junior Merino of The Liquid Lab in New York uses it for the rose and raspberry foam in Coming Up Roses, his signature drink. And Gina Chersevani of PS7 in Washington, DC uses it to add a green tint and a bright fresh aroma to mint-infused simple syrup that won’t turn brown. And of course Michael and Bryan Voltaggio use it every chance they get. The iSi North America Gourmet Whip Plus is easy to use and fun to play with, plus you can always whip out a charger and engage your fellow chefs in the next phase of iSi debate: creamy vs. carbonated, anyone?

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Warubg WFP14 Sealed Food Processor

7. Sealed Food Processor

Chefs may take Waring for granted as the leading manufacturer in small appliances, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a chef without one of their products. Last year we picked their immersion blender as an essential tool of the trade. This year, we’re excited about their new Waring WFP14 Sealed Food Processor. Okay, maybe the machine itself doesn't scream sexy. Sturdy and practical, it's got a continuous feed chute and a sealed batch bowl and S-blade. And the S-blade is conveniently locked to prevent spill. You can process soups, dressings, marinades, and dry ingredients in the food processor. Why wouldn’t we be excited to see a new food processor workhorse? As chefs know and will tell you, Waring equipment goes and goes, without getting stuck or breaking down. And endurance is sexy.

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Jade Bistro Range Series

8. Bistro Range Series

What would have become of Chef Jordan Kahn’s experiment with Grilled Milk Mousse this year had Jade not been there to provide the heat? Jade ranges are known industry-wide as robust, precise, durable, easy to clean, easy to maintain, and lifetime-guaranteed. Chefs Daniel Boulud, Michael Mina, Morimoto, Mario Batali, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, and Ken Oringer can’t all be wrong, right?— especially when they’ve ordered second and third ranges for their restaurants in expansion. And this year Jade’s come out with the Bistro Series, which includes touches like water-saving DryFlow operation, CoolTube Energy Efficient technology, and the Snap-Action thermostat. Superior craftsmanship, with details like a higher nickel content (which means stronger steel), stainless steel pilot heads and tips, and all-welded material, not to mention custom choices like open tops, griddles, woks, refrigeration bases, and chitwood charbroilers translate to the kind of product that’s hard not to get excited about.

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The Hobart Legacy Mixer

9. Standing Mixer

What would a chef’s kitchen be without a durable-as-hell standing mixer? Hobart’s design team regularly consults industry pros on their dream machine, and the latest result is the Hobart Legacy Mixer, designed with chefs’ needs in mind. The Legacy offers reliability, mixing consistency, easy operation, and operator protection (hello, everything in one?). The gears and shafts are made from heat-treated, hardened alloy steel, and sized to handle larger loads, which “in turn” (a little mixer joke) extends the life of the machine. And the powder coat paint further increases durability, providing a higher level of corrosion resistance.

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The Vitamix Quiet One Blender

10. Quiet Blender

Can you imagine a kitchen without a Vitamix? What a silly question. And now the front-of-the-house can share in the fun, without inflicting noise pollution on their guests. The new Vitamix Quiet One Blender was designed specifically with coffeehouses and high-end bars in mind. As part of the design process, Vitamix R&D ran a test on a milkshake (think of all the noise that blending thick ice cream normally causes) and found the Quiet One to be a full 18 decibels below the next least-loudest blender on the market. For bartenders and smoothie-makers alike, there are 34 optimized programs to choose from. And for an added touch that’s up to speed with a busy bar-chef’s needs, a magnetically secured back cover means nothing to take apart, so it's easy and quick to clean.

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The Carpigiani Pastochef

11. Pastochef

The Carigiani Pastochef is a welcome relief to overworked chefs and pastry chefs, as it has preset programs for things like pastry creams, ice creams, and soups that switch off when the program is finished and can be made to safely hold hot or cold items so nothing burns, food safety is not compromised, and you don’t suffer the crippling cost of waste. It’s unbelievably user-friendly as it has a USB port that can be used to download all the temperature readings of the contents of the machine in the event that a safety inspector comes a-knocking, so no more constant filling out of temperature forms or pulling out your pocket thermometer. If you’ve always wanted to offer your customers house-made condiments and soups but don’t have the staff necessary to do it, just set the program and let the machine do its thing.

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