For weeks now, I’ve been bringing you Capital Chefs interviews. But there’s been something I’ve been holding back and hiding. There’s one question I ask in every interview that I started asking just out of personal curiosity. The question: “What’s the one tool or gadget in your kitchen you can’t live without?”
Some answers are unusual, some may inspire you and maybe a few will make you laugh. If you’re a food nerd like me, you’ll be itching to run to Sur la Table when you’re done reading.
Someone had to say it: knives. A good set is something no chef or self-respecting cook can live without. And frankly, I was surprised that more people didn’t give me this answer. For Teddy Folkman of Granville Moore’s, he says he only has two or three knives but uses them for 80 percent of what he does.
Immersion blenders are also favorites of Tiffany MacIsaac of Birch & Barley and Tom Marr of Pete’s Apizza. MacIsaac says she gives them as presents to her staff during the holidays. Similar to immersion blenders, Teddy Diggs of Ripple says the Vita-Prep is a gadget he couldn’t part with. According to Diggs, the industrial, high-powered blender allows him to make everything from smooth sauces to grinding spices to use in his cooking.
One of the best answers I got was from Kyle Bailey of Birch & Barley. For him, the tool of choice is a long, iced-tea spoon which has a small bowl perfect for saucing dishes, a long handle for dexterity and the added bonus of being a really good instrument to give someone a light thwack on the hand with if they ever tried to take it from him.
For Allison Sosna of DC Central Kitchen, her answer is easy, “I can’t live without a microplane!” If you’ve ever tried to zest a lemon any other way (and I came up with a very creative one in college), you’ll know she’s right.
On the more technologically advanced side, Adam Sobel of Bourbon Steak raves about the cryovac machine and immersion circulator. While he says that some traditionalists may frown on the sous-vide method, Sobel (and along with many others) sees its merits. For those who don’t know, sous-vide is a method where food is put into vacuum-sealed pouches and then gently cooked in an immersion bath of warm water. Tons of the cool kids around town are doing it. Just think of it as a jacuzzi for that melt-in-your-mouth steak you just ate.