Pay a visit to any store that specializes in specialized kitchen devices, and you’ll get to thinking that no kitchen is complete without a full stable of high-concept, highfalutin tools that end up being completely unnecessary in reality. We asked more than 15 professional chefs which kitchen tools they never use, and their answers might surprise you.
“I think that it is unnecessary to have any tool in the kitchen for taking pasta out of water besides tongs. For instance, the pasta spoon/fork that is in most home kitchens. If I make pasta at home, I want to be as efficient as possible. The pasta spoon method is too time-consuming. I usually use tongs to remove the pasta into the pasta sauce, or I reserve some of the cooking water and then strain the pasta into a colander in the sink.” — Sarah Grueneberg, Monteverde (Chicago)
Chef Manny Arce of Poquitos in Seattle never uses specific knives for avocados; they can be cut just fine with a regular knife, he told us.
Chef Arce also eschews knives specifically intended for cutting lettuce; a regular sharp knife works just as well.
More chefs agreed that the garlic press was useless than any other tool.
“I don’t know anyone that uses one.” — John Stage, Dinosaur BBQ (various locations)
“It seems like every home cook has one or wants one, but here are two simple techniques for crushing garlic without a press: The first, I learned from my mother. Simply place the peeled garlic clove in a small bowl (or use a mortar and pestle), add a small pinch of salt and take the end of a knife or the pestle and pound it until it's mashed! It's easy, fast, and better than punching a pillow (great for relieving tension)! The other method uses the flat side of a chef's knife and a cutting board. Smash the clove with the flat side of the blade (safely, using your fingers to guide the blade) until it's thoroughly crushed. A bit of salt on the garlic helps with this too.” — Cynthia Kallile, formerly of The Meatloaf Bakery (Chicago)
"A knife does a better job. And most of the time you need a knife after using the device to chop the garlic finer. So we are wasting energy and creating more things to wash.” — Christopher Lee, The Forge (Miami, Fla.)
"Really? Nothing fits in it except a piece of bread, which it doesn't toast properly." — Ethan Stowell, Ethan Stowell Restaurants (Seattle)
You’ll most likely only see traditional wine keys at restaurants.
"Owning one of these is basically announcing that you are lacking in another area, if you catch my drift." — Ethan Stowell, Ethan Stowell Restaurants, (Seattle)
"Nobody needs an egg yolk separator. If you're separating more than six eggs at a time, it's easier to just use your hand to separate them or use the shell as you're cracking them.” — Daniel Holzman, The Meatball Shop, (New York City)
"Stupid! The time it takes to rummage around looking for this tool, digging in drawers, you could have run at least a dozen eggs though your fingers. And, it takes about 60 seconds to wash your hands." — Ericka Burke, Volunteer Park Café, (Seattle)
“No chef uses pot holders. We either burn our hands or use a dual-purpose kitchen towel (to clean, too). Pot holders are dirty bacteria sponges.” — Andrew Gruel, Slapfish
“Anything that is not a kitchen towel is less functional when holding hot items.” — Eric Bromberg, Blue Ribbon Restaurants, (New York City)
“While I think these are bright and cheery, they really aren't necessary. Slice the fruit in half. Put one half in your non-dominant hand. Using your dominant hand, insert a fork and squeeze the fruit while gently turning the fork back and forth.” — Cynthia Kallile, formerly of The Meatloaf Bakery (Chicago)
“This can simply be done with your fingers, very easily!” — Steve Chiappetti, formerly of Marion Street Market (Oak Park, Ill.)
“An American-style peeler is the worst kitchen utensil I’ve ever encountered, and it’s unfortunately one of the most common household items. You have no leverage to actually peel anything, leaving you whittling away at a carrot like a little kid whittling a stick into a spear. Professionally we use Y-shaped peelers, which give you leverage to effectively peel items, and we replace them when they become dull.” — Erik Niel, Easy Bistro & Bar (Chattanooga, Tenn.)
“We slow-cook things all the time at the restaurant, but never with a Crock Pot. Get rid of it.” — Braden Wages, Malai Kitchen (Dallas)