|Tools of the Trade:
The Hottest Kitchen Equipment of 2008
Chefs ‘heart’ Sharpies. But chefs lose Sharpie caps, their beloved Sharpies dry out, and that makes chefs sad. Fortunately, Sharpie heard the chefs’ cries and found a nifty solution: the clickable marker with a retractable tip—even better, it’s one hand operable. Click here for product information and purchase.
It’s small, it’s portable, and it heats up to 570dgf. Unfortunately, it doesn’t do dishes, but the non-porous plate surface prevents carbon build-up and makes the griddle top easy to clean. Despite its relatively small size (16"W x 17"D x 6"H), this state of the art griddle runs around $1000, but we’ve seen it recently for $650 on sale!
Hey, chef/blogger! This one is for you. Great dish shots on your blog are all fine and dandy, but video is where it’s at. Flip’s tiny camcorder can make a director and producer out of any chef. It’s basically a point and shoot video camera that can start recording in a mere three seconds of power up and holds up to an hour of material. For $149, you can’t beat it. Click here for more information.
Have you lost your edge? Maybe a culinary school intern used your favorite, most expensive knife to hack open a box of walnuts? Zwilling/Henkels has released their latest set of precious knives to love and cherish—and protect like your first born. They partnered with Italian architect Matteo Thun to design the simple but rather luxurious knives. The results: an ice-hardened, wedge-shaped blade composed of steel Cronidur 30 that’s forged from one single piece and a half-bolster with an ebony wood handle. There are just five knives in the line (paring, slicing, chef’s, bread, and Santoku), but at $300 to $450 a pop…let’s just say that interns and TWINs should not be combined. . For more information, click here.
The Vita-Prep. Could it really be improved? We are happy to announce that this perennial favorite among chefs just got bigger. Vita-Mix introduced their XL, a 1.5 gallon blending machine with a 4.2 peak HP motor—twice the power of the original. The good news: No more blender “explosions” from trying to fit all the soup in the container. The bad news: No more laughing at the new kid with soup all over his face and dripping off his nose. For more information, click here.
The beauty of Koerner’s Smoky Express isn’t just that it’s small (it can fit in a suitcase), nor just because it can smoke in any container (bowl to bucket), nor that it’s multi-functional (it warm smokes, cold smokes, and makes smoke essence). It’s the simplicity of the device that makes it a fantastic tool. If you’ve got a container of any kind, plastic wrap, a small blow torch, and little Smoky, you’ve got a smoker. Fire the little guy up and stick the flexible plastic tube into your container with the product you want smoked, or poke it under a dish cover for an experiential dish presentation, and you’re smokin’. Click here to purchase or for more information.
Have your spoonful of tuna tartare with wasabi beads and eat it, too. No, really, you eat the spoon. Those ubiquitous Asian soup spoons used for amuse bouche, “bites,” and hors d’oeuvres can go bye-bye. There’s another clever Flexipan that is on the scene shaped like spoons and giving chefs and pastry chefs alike yet another platform for creativity. Click here to purchase.
Dave Arnold and Nils Noren introduced us to a rotary evaporator (rotavap) in one of their workshops at this year’s International Chefs Congress. They used the low pressure distiller to distill Madeira (and served it with a cheese course). But the next generation of technology wasn’t far behind: the Rotaval is now on the market and it’s fixing to change the way any molecular-tinkering chef thinks about flavors and flavoring. The Rotaval uses a vaccum pump to distill at low pressure and—are you sitting down?—it can distill from almost any moist item, liquid orsolid.Think sand essence, tincture of baked sweet potato, fresh apricot distillate.It’s priced at amere $12,500 and think of all the latenight experiments to be had. Contact International Cooking Concepts for more information; Le Sanctuaire for purchase.
We’ve seen plenty of ovens over the years, but have you seen one that cooks, holds, and—this is the good part—smokes? With real wood chips? Alto-Shaam’s latest oven technology seems particularly genius given the resurgence of house-made charcuterie and salami in the chef world. (In fact, Chef Brian Polcyn of Five Lakes Grill (Michigan) used it in his 2008 International Chefs Congress workshop on charcuterie to cold smoke a salt-cured salmon.) And having a piece of equipment that can serve as an oven, a holding unit, and a smoker, is not only space efficient, but just downright smart. Not to mention, it’s Ecosmart certified too. For more information, click here.
If the red chili pants simply aren’t enough of a statement, maybe you need a little extra pizzazz in the footwear arena. Black clogs are so last year—python, leopard, and confetti are the new black. C’mon, just because you’re in a kitchen doesn’t mean you can’t express yourself with what you wear. Click here to find out more.
Scenario A: You’ve got five gallons of piping hot veal stock to cool to walk-in temp in short order.Solution: The Blast Chiller.This super-cooler takes hot foods to 37ºF in 90 minutes or less.Beats the hell out of the leave-it-out-to-cool method—can you say bacteria-ville?—or the stirring with an ice stick for eons. Scenario B: You’ve just finished 12 trays of delicate chocolate swirl garnishes for a VIP party tomorrow night. Now, where do you put them? Solution: The Shock Freezer. This handy piece of equipment has customizable temperature and humidity controls—ideal for that chocolate. Oh, and it can also take hot food to 0º F in four hours or less. Say goodbye to trying to find safe, cool spots for your chocolate swirls. For more information, click here.