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The new year is here and you've resolved to finally get rid of the clutter. What better place to start than the kitchen, what many consider to be the heart and soul of the home?
And nobody knows culinary gadgets, tools and ingredients better than star chefs, who spend hours a day in state-of-the-art kitchens. TODAY Food caught up with several of them at a New York magazine tasting event to get their picks on the six most unnecessary and overrated kitchen tools and food-related items you can toss.
1. Garlic press/crusher
"I feel like I spend more time cleaning the garlic smasher and then cleaning my hands after cleaning the garlic smasher, and then trying to bend the fork back that I used to get the stuff out of the garlic smasher," said Daniel Rose, chef of the wildly popular Le Coucou in New York City, along with three other restaurants in Paris. "Just use a knife or your hand instead."
Jessica Weiss, executive pastry chef at New York’s Maialino and Marta, agrees: "It's mean to the garlic," she said. "The garlic just needs a nice sharp knife."
2. Non-stick pans
Instead, Cardoz recommends home cooks invest in a good stainless steel or cast iron pan. "Work with those pans and take care of them and you can cook as well," he said. "I only cooked in cast iron and stainless steel pans."
Another benefit? "They're reasonably priced, (and if) you take care of them they last you a lifetime," he said. "You don't have to replace them."
3. Truffle oil
This culinary trend from the ‘90s refuses to go away, with chefs drizzling it on everything from fries to mac 'n' cheese. "We don't allow that in our house or our restaurants anywhere,” said chef Leland Avellino of Dinosaur Bar-B-Que. “It's a hot-button one for us."
4. Measuring cups
"I know this is something that every American household has and I think it's the most ridiculous and unuseful thing,” said chef Miro Uskokovic of Untitled and Gramercy Tavern. The Serbian-born pastry chef insists on using scales in his kitchen. "I do not allow cups or teaspoons, and I tell them if we have them, you're only using them as like scoops, not to measure anything."
"Measuring cups are maybe good for savory cooking, because savory cooking doesn't necessarily have to be precise," he added. But with baking, he said, you’ll get inconsistent results if the measurements are slightly off. He also prefers kitchen scales for a more practical matter: "It's fewer dishes to do."
5. "Unitasker" (and infrequently used) gadgets
Do you really need an onion chopper or an apple slicer when you have a good knife on hand? "You go into like a Bed Bath and Beyond and there's a wall full of unnecessary gadgets," said Uskokovic. "There's also those ridiculous things like avocado slicer and onion keeper and banana keeper."
Infrequently used gadgets should also be on the chopping block. "A lot of people go for circulators,” said Cardoz. “I don't really think you need a circulator unless you're a big restaurant."
6. Food processor
Dale Talde, chef of his namesake Brooklyn restaurant, as well as the newly opened Massoni in Manhattan, thinks most folks can get away without owning a food processor. "They’re so ... chunky and bulky, and they're heavy," he said. "If a recipe's asking you to (use) that, you probably shouldn't be making it at home."
When it comes down to it, "you don't need so much," said Gillian Duffy, culinary editor of New York magazine. “Most people have too many things in their kitchen.” She says a KitchenAid and a good set of knives will go a long way for the home cook. “You don't even need a rolling pin because you can use a bottle of wine."