Chef David Burke Helps You Get the Most Out of Your Kitchen Gadgets

There’s more to your kitchen tools than meets the eye

David Burke's French coffee press works double duty at his restaurants and is used to make lobster soup table side.

Being a chef is all about thinking on your feet and getting the most out of everything. This is even applicable to your kitchen equipment, which may serve just one purpose in your mind but can work double-duty in the kitchen if you use some of these helpful tips.

Potato Masher

Potatoes aren’t the only thing that can be mashed. I find that using a potato masher to make guacamole helps get that creamy yet chunky consistency that many people look for.


Sometimes in the rush of putting a dinner out, you may not be able to find things that you need for presentation, or you may just not own them. This is often the case with things like trivets, so I like tying the ends of wooden spoons together to create a makeshift trivet in the heat of the moment.


I like taking the whisk outside of the kitchen and using it to help me with my centerpieces. Placing a few whisks in a vase with flowers is a fun way to incorporate the kitchen into your presentation, and it’s also helpful for when you don’t have enough flowers to fill the vase. The whisks help them stand upright and make the centerpiece more robust.


Another fun centerpiece idea is a strainer. I like turning mine upside down and placing iceberg heads on it as sort of a serve-your-self place setting.

French Press

Not only does it make great coffee, but a French press can be handy when you’re looking to make a rich and flavorful stock. I like placing mushrooms and other flavor components like shrimp shells and another seasonal vegetables in mine and pressing them with vegetable stock to make a base for mushroom soup.

Coffee Cups and Saucers

I love serving dessert in unusual vessels, such as coffee cups. My favorite way of doing this is to use the coffee cups and saucers as a display for a buffet. I’ll rest a serving platter with the main course on top of the cups and saucers so that when you’re finished with the main course, dessert is already out on the table.


Besides flipping eggs, spatulas are a fun presentation gadget for your table setting. I like using mine to rest place cards on.


Charcoal is not just for your grills! I like wrapping a bundle in aluminum foil and warming it in the oven. Then I take a kitchen towel and wrap it around the aluminum foil and place it in the bottom of the bread basket. This creates a warming plate that will keep your bread warm during serving.

Old Cast-Iron Pots

Before throwing out any cookware, I try to think of a way I can make it last even longer without using it necessarily for cooking. My favorite thing to do is to take a really old, antique-looking pot and plant soil and herbs in it. I’ll use it as a centerpiece for parties and when I’m serving salads, I’ll cut fresh herbs from it tableside.

Salt and Pepper Shakers

These two are great when it comes to making desserts. Rather than putting salt and pepper in them, I’ll fill them with fun sprinkles and use them for decorating cakes and cupcakes.

David Burke is a world-renowned chef and restaurateur. To learn more about him, his website and his Facebook page, and follow him on Twitter @ChefDavidBurke