Our kitchen equipment philosophy is pretty simple: Less is more. But as the world's best chefs attest, there are a few clever gadgets that deserve a spot in the modern cook's toolbox.
#1: MEAT GRINDER
Whether you're after the freshest burgers or want to get in on the house-made sausage trend, Noah Bernamoff, of New York's Mile End deli, recommends a hand-cranked meat grinder.
"A food processor tends to whip and de-texture proteins," he cautions. "The grinder gives meat a nice, rustic texture."
Tre Spade, $150; williams-sonoma.com
#2: DIGITAL SCALE
Portland's bread-and-pizza prince, Ken Forkish, says the case for digital scales is as simple as salt.
"Coarse versus fine salt at equal weight will produce equivalent results," he explains. "But not if measured by volume."
Soon you'll be using one to portion pasta, make uniformly sized meatballs, and, for coffee nerds, weigh beans before brewing.
Oxo Softworks, $33; target.com
Top single-serve coffeemakers )
#3: PEPPER MILL
Matthias Merges, chef at Chicago's Yusho, loads different pepper mills with spices and seeds, which he uses to finish dishes.
"In winter, we have cloves for rich stews, as well as coriander, mustard, and fennel seeds," he says.
Unicorn Magnum Plus, $55; broadwaypanhandler.com
#4: PIZZA STEEL
For spot-on pizzas at home, Ideas in Food's Aki Kamozawa uses this ultra-conductive pizza steel instead of ones made of stone or ceramic.
Says Kamozawa: "The pizzas made on it are gorgeous--browned and bubbly with crisp edges."
16x14" baking steel, $72; bakingsteel.com
#5: SPICE GRINDER
Yotam Ottolenghi is known for his Mediterranean-inspired dishes, but for curry pastes or chopping toasted nuts, he turns to a powerful spice grinder.
"I use it for tough ingredients, like fresh lemongrass and dried limes."
The stainless-steel bowl won't absorb odors or flavors.
Spice & nut grinder, $40; cuisinart.com
#6: DIGITAL THERMOMETER
The lightning-fast Thermapen goes up to 572 degrees and is a staple in the laboratory-like kitchen at Ideas in Food, a blog devoted to culinary innovation.
"When baking a gooey cake, it's hard to check for doneness any other way," says Ideas' H. Alexander Talbot. "We also love it for deep-frying."
Splash-proof super-fast Thermapen, $89; thermoworks.com
These spearlike steel-and-wood chopsticks are designed for cooking.
Says Toronto-based chef Susur Lee,"I use them for flipping foods in the fryer and picking up seaweed.They can be manipulated like fine tweezers."
6.5" Plating Chopsticks, $60; chuboknives.com