7 Kitchen Tools You Don’t Actually Need, According to NYC Chefs
KonMari that kitchen.
Published Apr 9, 2019 7:00 AM
With so many enticing gizmos and gadgets filling the kitchen aisles at Target, it’s easy to accumulate too many specialty cooking devices that end up cluttering our cupboards. That avocado slicer or pastry-making tool that promises to make your life easier will most likely end up collecting dust or taking up valuable real estate. There are plenty of tools—some obvious, and some not—that you simply don’t need. That’s why we turned to the pros to figure out what to KonMari and what to keep.
Here’s the thing: If top chefs say that a tool’s not worth your while, they have a point. Tons of kitchen gadgets might be marketed toward amateur home cooks, but that doesn’t mean that they make cooking fuss-free. A simple guideline to follow: Skip the single-function tools and make the most out of things that can be used in multiple ways. Get creative!
If you need a little guidance when it comes to clearing out your cabinets, listen to the pros. These are the kitchen tools that you simply don’t need.
Extra-Fancy Wine Openers
Unless you’re splurging because you’ve found a wine opener that looks really, really cool (we get it), there’s no reason to shell out for a fancier method of uncorking bottles. “In regards to bottle openers, there are so many different products on the market—some can be really expensive. There are all types of electronic corkscrews and ergonomic tools that actually don’t make opening a bottle any easier,” says Theo Friedman, co-owner and COO of Bonsai Kakigori. “A normal wine key is the most efficient, reliable, and the only tool you need when trying to open a bottle of wine.”
Even if you regularly cook seafood, don’t feel pressured to buy any fancy equipment. “For me, any kind of expensive tool or pliers to debone a fish is a waste of money and sometimes space,” says Sylvain Aubry, executive chef of La Cafette. “All you need is a pair of clean, sterile tweezers, and it will work just as well.”
Here’s a common one that you might think you need but that can actually make the baking process harder. “A pastry blender is an unnecessary kitchen tool,” says Leah Morrow, executive pastry chef at Brooklyn Bread Laband The Williamsburg Hotel. “I always just use a KitchenAid stand mixer instead. For example, I use the KitchenAid mixer to cut butter into cubes, and then I chill these and combine them with flour using the paddle attachment. After this, I mix the butter until it breaks down into pea-size pieces among the flour for any given recipe.”
Bakers, rejoice: This recommendation enables you to cut down on a tedious step that one pro baker says isn’t worth it. “A tool I think is unnecessary is a sifter,” says Gracie Bensimon, owner of Gracie Baked at North 3rd Street Market. “I always just make sure to whisk my dry ingredients to get rid of the lumps. It doesn’t make the ingredients quite as fluffy, but I’ve found that it doesn’t matter and using a sifter can just be a waste of time.”
Hot take: This common kitchen textile is actually overrated. “My least favorite kitchen tool has to be the oven mitt,” says Darren Pettigrew, executive chef of Valerie. “Oven mitts can get really dirty in the kitchen and are rarely ever cleaned. Restaurant chefs typically forgo them, using doubled up kitchen towels instead.”
Listen up, grill master: You can get perfectly shaped patties without shelling out on a tool that takes up drawer space. “Now that the weather is getting warmer, home chefs love BBQ’ing. Of course, one of the most popular items to grill is the hamburger, which leads me to an extremely useless tool: the hamburger press,” says Maro Gjurasic, executive chef of Cibo E Vino. “The hamburger press is used to form and squish ground meat into a patty. What I like to do instead is use a lid of a jar. I line the lid of any large jar) with plastic wrap, and then I stick a ball of ground meat inside and simply press with a plate. Perfect burgers every time.”
Specialty Fruit and Vegetable Knives
Yes, it may be tempting to pick up an avocado or fruit slicer, but we must inform you that, unfortunately, they’re just not worth it. “Forget the slicer. A sharp knife and simple understanding of the anatomy of the fruit and vegetable are all you need,” says Yvan Lemoine, executive chef at Gitano Jungle Room at The James New York SoHo. “You see all those special peelers they sell on infomercials? None of them work. You’re more bound to take a slice off your fingers.”
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