An Appreciation of Cuisinart

Small things can make a big difference in the kitchen. The wooden spoon, probably invented soon after trees appeared on Earth, has so many uses it’s hard to count them. But wooden spoons are particularly good for stirring sauces because they don’t get hot. Some chefs I’ve met insist on using the same spoon every time they make their tomato sauces, claiming that the flavors become part of the spoon and add to the taste of the sauce. Hey, whatever works.

Chefs get so attached to their gear. They are known for carrying their own spoons and especially their own knives from kitchen to kitchen. Makes sense to me. There’s just something so personal about the feel of your own knife in your own hand. It also has a lot to do with how sharp you can really get that knife. Once you join the carrying-your-own-knives club, you can also join the endless debate about carbon steel verses stainless steel knives.

While it’s true that freshly sharpened carbon will give you a sharper cut than stainless, after a few uses without attention, the carbon will get dull compared to the stainless steel knife. If you’re planning on filling in at Nobu or need to otherwise impress, bring your carbon knives, otherwise stainless will do. Of course, don’t board any airplanes or even the New York City subway with your knife kit – you likely won’t get far. One traveling chef so equipped was arrested in NY.

Open up most any chef’s kit and you’ll find that they also carry their own instant read thermometer and a digital timer, and sometimes even an iPod if the kitchen music is bad or the restaurant’s expeditor or manager is a pain. (“What’s that? I can’t hear you with this iPod blasting in my ears.”)

Which brings me to Cuisinart. The company is a relative newcomer to the American kitchen. Julia Child and James Beard made the Cuisinart a household name in 1973 when they introduced us to a revolution called the “food processor” — made by Cuisinart. It might have seemed a little “suburban mom” back then, but today the company is endorsed by the likes of Jacques Pepin.

If I had to name one kitchen tool, besides a wooden spoon and a good knife, that I couldn’t live with out – it would be this: Cuisinart’s Hand Blender. In my opinion, there’s no better way to finish off a soup – especially when everyone is loitering around the galley or kitchen asking when dinner will be ready. Freshly blended, the soup tastes especially fresh and best of all, you can carry a hand blender on the NYC subway without getting arrested.

Photo of Julia Child’s kitchen by Selena N.B.H. via Creative Commons License.