Shout out to anyone who grew up with Tim the Tool Man Taylor. He had a love for power tools that knew no bounds. He would stick a V6 engine on your garbage disposer so you could both get rid of unwanted food and drive yourself to work. Power tools are the big guns, the large mama jamas…ok I will stop.
Power tools aren’t just for carpenters and flannel wearing men though. Nope, in the kitchen we have a list of power tools we love using! Some Chefs can be a little over reliant on their tools…but they are just so much fun! Some we just wish we had, for the sake of having and telling other people we own them. Although, we may never use them…
All of the ones below I have used and enjoy. Especially the Melanger and the dehydrator. They worked great for multiple things! That is what is really important when you buy new tools! My kitchen is too small to house all the kitchen gadgets Sur La Table has to offer… so make sure you buy tools with multiple uses.
Let’s get started!
For home cooking. There are currently two immersion circulators I think of(I am sure there are more…I have only been exposed to these two). For those who aren’t aware. An immersion circulator is used to keep water at a controlled temperature. This allows you to not worry about the product inside. You can vacuum seal a steak with herbs and oil, cook it to 125, cut it out and sear. Then you get a perfectly cooked steak. You can also cook eggs, fish, vegetables etc. Some of the benefits of this method include reduced flavor loss, even cooking, and better flavor infusion.
The first option I recommend is the Anova Circulator. It has an actual interface that you case on the machine itself and can handle about 3-4 gallons. It also has some cool notifications that can be sent to your phone so you know where your product is at.
Now the other option besides the Anova version is the new Joule. Chefsteps has several videos and tutorials on how to use it. It is much more compact and stylish. However, it only works with your phone. There is no outer interface. Thus, you are reliant on buying a phone, having the app and so on. That is the biggest thing I dislike. Now, if you like compact, and style. Then it is a solid product.
P.S. Anova is pretty good about making sure your product works, even when it breaks. They have sent one of my friends a new one.
This might seem like a foreign
tool to many. What is a melanger? Well the word melange is french for
“blend or mixture”. The tool works great to make chocolate, nut butters
super smooth. Most of these make the particles so fine, that the human
tongue can not perceive the micro particles. We would use this tool for
the coffocolate that I came up with, the nut butters, chocolate and I am
sure now much more. Really, this is only useful if you know what to use
the tool with.
We would take ground hazelnut butter and make hazelnut gelato just by adding simple syrup(there is too much fat, so no need to make base). You can make chocolate, cake sugar and anything else that needs to be ground fine.
A good meat slicer in a kitchen can save boat loads of time. Also, if you want to make sure your product is consistent, it does wonders. I have sliced pancetta, lardo, Jamon and other cured meat products(duck, beef, etc) on this slicer. You want to make sure you don’t skimp here. The more metal the better. You don’t need the fancy automatic ones. Just get a simple manual one. **Make sure to read the safety instructions**
Technically, when I first started using one, I was underage!
Also, make sure to keep this clean, they are basically bacteria pits…they get super messy every time you have to slice 4 pork bellies. Fat, and meat get everywhere, so really make sure to scrub this tool.
Now if you really want a good one, and the one I used then look at the Beswood Meat Slicer
Most chefs love making cured meat products (Charcuterie). Sausage is no exception. In order to do it properly, you need a grinder. There are recipes that say you can do it in the robocoup or other tools. But nothing does it like a meat grinder. Make sure you get a solid product. Like the one below. More metal is better. You want to make sure it can handle grinding meat and not crack. Always keep your pieces cold! Sausage making is a true art! It requires an understanding of seasoning, curing, emulsifying, and sometimes aging.
You could also grind meat for your famous burgers, or meatloaf! If you are an avid hunter, it is great when you have a lot of odds and ends. I have had my fair share of venison and wild deer sausage..
at the Herbfarm, and for Dana and Brian of Spur, Tavern Law, etc. A dehydrator was necessary. When I worked at the Coterie Room we made pork cracklins with a very complex process. It involved a lot of steps that I won’t go into here. The end step was using the dehydrator before we fried the perfect little crisps. Also, if you want to make beef jerky, dehydrated cranberries (different than dried!) , meringues in formed shapes on heat sensitive acetate, it works
great. They are really just cheap ovens with a crappy door, as one of my Chefs once said. They will keep a low temperature and dry air constantly circulating. If you are just into raw food, it is also a great tool to never really “cook” your food. Not that I would understand that…
Again, this can be used for multiple things, which is why I support this tool. You can make jerky, desserts, dry herbs, gels, fruits etc.
A funny side note. We always call these things “Kitchen aids” when really they are stand mixers. Now, this is a tool every cook loves! It allows you to make dough, whip creams and aerate eggs. It can be used to emulsify, knead and even roll out pasta (with the right attachment). Kitchen Aids save so much time in the industrial kitchen. I would often be chopping shallots with the Kitchen Aid running right next to me. It is about getting things done!
I actually used to have a french chef that made me hand whip all my creams! It sucked. Save your arm, look into a new mixer. Unless you are looking for a work out!.
I watched my parents buy 5-6 blenders in my lifetime. Each costing anywhere from $30-$100. Each of them either breaking, or not being able to truly blend to the consistency they wanted. They might have been able to buy 2 home vita-mixes for that cost. As a cook, this tool is amazing. I have never seen one break, and that is after making thousands of purees, dressings, even chocolate(from coco nibs to smoothish chocolate!, you will need a Melanger to go all the way).
Quick Side note
I don’t recommend making chocolate in your vitamix, my Chef was always worried I would break it. I am just letting you know, that I made it happen…
Now, I have never seen one burn out. I have worked at a restaurant that shared kitchens. Supposedly, the other kitchen broke theirs because they were making a fluid gel and burned out the motor(I can see that happening). However, most of these have near lifetime warranties!
might be laughing at me right now. A Fry Daddy…really?? However, I remember using this puppy
at Cafe Juanita to fry hundreds of little blue cheese doughnuts. We
didn’t have a real fryer, so this was our only choice. It does good
work. It is small, so if you need a bigger fryer. Then take a look
around a restaurant supply store for the classic two tank fryers. I can’t actually recommend anything else (that is this size), because I haven’t used
anything besides a fry daddy and big giant industrial deep fryers. I could mention some large $8+k fryers…
Do you need to froth a foam on the fly, maybe make a 2 gallon batch of mayonnaise, emulsify, break down, puree, or just want a tool to pull out when you don’t want to use your vitamix? I think that is the best way to describe this tool. It is very useful for foaming and what not. I do believe most people just use it when they don’t feel like plugging in and cleaning a vita mix. It does great work, but it won’t make your soup as smooth as a vita mix. You also don’t have to go quart by quart (like a vita mix) when pureeing a soup. You can just stick this into your pot and puree away.
Finally, this tool was more for fun. We used it at the Herbfarm…I am not sure if it would be useful for anybody. We did a dish with wood oven roasted pumpkin, oak cream and maple cotton candy. There were a few other places we put the cotton candy. It stayed on for several menus. My chef personally loved the dish, and I would agree. It was a great combinations of flavors and textures(especially the oak cream!). However, I think it was a tool that was bought for one menu and beyond that, it was rarely used. If however, you own a candy or pastry shop. It would be pretty cool to have. I have seen people sell a few ounces for $8-$9 as “artisanal cotton candy”. Knowing how much sugar costs, if that is selling…they are making a mint.
Well that was my list of top power tools for chefs. Do you have cooking gadgets you love? Let me know. I am sure I have forgotten the smoke gun or the similar one use tools (I never liked the smoke gun, I always used a bee smoker).
All of the links to products are Amazon Affiliate links. I would like to be candid that I do receive a percentage of the purchase price. That being said, all the products I reference I have either used or own. I want to help people looking for products anyway! I don’t want people buying things that won’t benefit them.
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