Great Gadgets

Experts list the cool tools they couldn't live without
This is an archived article that was published on in 2004, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

From the grocery store to the gourmet shop, there is an abundance of kitchen gadgets promising to make life in the kitchen a little easier. But do you really need every grater, garlic press and Ginzu knife that shows up on the shelf?

The Salt Lake Tribune asked Utah chefs and kitchen store owners to tell us some of their favorite culinary gadgets. Here's what they said about their must-have tools:


What is it?

This hand-held tool, shaped like a woodshop file, has small, double-sided blades for quick, two-way grating and zesting. A favorite tool mentioned by almost everyone interviewed. Comes in various sizes. Usually referred to as a Microplane, the brand name. Costs vary depending on size ($12-$20).

What the cook says:

"I use these constantly," said Cathie Mooers, culinary director at Gygi Culinary Arts Center, 3500 S. 300 West. "The smaller ones are for zesting lemons and limes. The coarser ones for nuts, chocolate, hard cheeses and even ginger. It's my favorite tool."


What is it? This hand-held device makes quick work of citrus juicing. Place half a lemon or lime, cut side down (even though this seems backward) into the metal cup. Squeeze the handles together, which turns the lemon inside-out. The juice passes through the drain holes and leaves the seeds behind. Stainless steel ($17.95) or colored metal ($12.99).

What the cook says: "It does a great job and is a huge time saver," said Grant Gaultney, chef and owner, with wife Celeste, of Avenues Bakery, 481 E. South Temple. "You can really crank through the lemons."


What is it?

Put the apple on the forked end of this machine and turn the crank. The device will peel, core and slice the apple as easy as pie. Does the same for potatoes. Two versions: a suction base ($29.95) or clamp for the counter ($24.95).

What the cook says:

"It's the only way to make an apple pie or prepare apples for drying," said Nancy Lee Beykirch, Love to Cook at Kitchen Kneads, 1211 N. Main, Logan.


What is it? The classic liquid measuring tool gets a new look with the markings printed diagonally on the inside of the cup. The change means cooks can determine from above whether they have measured or poured accurately. The plastic cups are microwave and dishwasher (top shelf) safe. Comes in 1-, 2- and 4-cup sizes ($5 to $10).

What the cook says: "It's easy to see what you are measuring and you don't have to keep looking at the side to see if you are right," said Eleanor Kondo Ream, a Salt Lake City cooking instructor and restaurant consultant.


What is it? Also called a hand-held blender, this long, thin appliance with a powerful end blade allows cooks to pure hot soups, right in the pan. No more mess transferring the hot liquid from saucepan to blender and back again. Also great for blending smoothies and salad dressings. Cordless versions are most convenient, but more expensive. Costs range from around $30 to over $100. Many come with chopping and other attachments.

What the cook says: "It's the best gadget ever made," said Mike Crosland, chef at Boulevard Restaurant, 2335 E. Murray-Holladay Road. "It saves me hours and hours. I emulsify soups, make all my salad dressings and sauces like hollandaise and it keeps my vinaigrette dressings from separating."


What is it? Run vegetables or fruits over the blade on this rectangular-shaped gadget and slices come out quickly and uniformly. Different blades can be substituted to make paper-thin cucumber slices, julienned carrots or crinkle-cut potatoes. Prices vary from plastic versions (about $25) to upscale stainless steel models (more than $100).

What the cook says: "I use mine a lot for quick-slicing fennel, tomatoes and onions," said Mikel Trapp, food and beverage director at Snowbird Ski Resort in Little Cottonwood Canyon. "You don't need to spend a lot on one of those heavy-duty French chef ones."


What is it?

This all-purpose, Asian-style knife is a cross between a chef's knife and cleaver. It slices, dices and minces meat, fish and vegetables. Probably best for cooks who already have sharp-knife skills. Prices vary ($40 to more than $100) depending on size of knife and brand.

What the cook says:

"A friend in the business turned me on to this knife and it's better than anything I've used," said Zak Thamert, executive chef of Prime Hotel (formerly Wyndham), 215. W. South Temple, Salt Lake City. "It has replaced my basic chef knife."


What is it? These lightweight pieces of polyurethane bend, making it easy to transport chopped foods from the counter to the pan. They are dishwasher-safe and thin, making for easy storage. They also are cheap enough ($3.99 for 11 1/2 -by-15) to have a separate mats for poultry and meats and raw vegetables, preventing cross-contamination of foods.

What the cook says: "I have three of them and I use them a lot," said Saint Claire Nelson, chef at the Scott Matheson Courthouse and a Salt Lake City cooking instructor. "You don't have to clean off a big wooden cutting board and sanitize it every time. You just throw the mat in the dishwasher."