What’s an overrated kitchen appliance feature or kitchen gadget?
Courtesy of Hamilton Beach
Chef Holmes says professional-grade blenders are overrated; regular residential blenders like the one above can get the job done.
Chef Holmes: I think one of the most overrated tools I’ve seen are professional blenders. They are really expensive. I found that your basic blenders at places like Target hold up just fine and have just as long as a lifetime. I guess the pro ones have a little more horsepower, but honestly, for what most people are doing, a regular blender works fine.
Chef Matthews: I think a garlic press is useless.
Chef Selland: I think just about anything that is hocked on television. All the little “make- a-meal-in-one–pan” things. Anything like that just makes food without any flavor. With just a little bit of energy you can make good food with your oven or stove.
Chef Subido: Warming drawers. I get the whole hot plate thing, but you can put a plate in the oven for a second and get the same effect.
Chef Vizethann: I’m not a huge fan of non-commercial food processors. I had one for six months that just stopped working right. I would spend more money on the commercial one.
Verdict: Our chefs found overrated products in all different cooking categories and price ranges. So whatever you’re buying, do your research and remember: Caveat emptor (let the buyer beware).
Do you think warming drawers are useful?
Courtesy of Miele
Most kitchen appliance manufacturers make warming drawers now, but do chefs find them useful?
Chef Holmes: I really don’t think they are necessary for the home. I guess if you’re entertaining a group of 50 people every night, it would come in handy. But most people don’t cook like that.
Chef Matthews: I don't use any type of warming drawers. I worry about the food drying out.
Chef Vizethann: The only time I use them is if something has already been cooked and I just have to keep it warm. It’s good when I’m doing a catered event. I wouldn’t keep a sauce or something like that in there. It’s good for bread, but as a home cook, I wouldn’t use it much.
Verdict: Most of our chefs didn’t find warming drawers to be necessary for the way they cooked at restaurants and in home kitchens. Of course, professional chefs are skilled at cooking food so it’s all ready to be served simultaneously. Home chefs might find warming drawers useful, especially when making large meals meant for a dinner party.
What’s an underrated kitchen appliance feature or kitchen gadget?
Courtesy of Cuisinart
An immersion blender is one of Chef Holmes' favorite tools.
Chef Holmes: Something we use a lot is a stick or a wand, an immersion blender. Those are very handy. And those work for a quick puree or making sauces, and you can use them in a container and they wash off very easily.
Chef Matthews: A good vegetable peeler. A dull or bad peeler can be infuriating, but a good one keeps a simple job simple. Also, I'd like to see more people use cast-iron pans; I think they are great.
Courtesy of Oxo
Depending on your needs, you might want an inexpensive hand mandoline or a more professional style mandolin, like these ones from Oxo.
Chef Selland: A mandolin for slicing thin slices and fries. If you’re serious about cooking, its something you should have and use on a regular basis.
Chef Subido: The slicer on food processors like a Cuisinart. It’s an attachment but it typically comes with the pieces; when you buy a food processor, you usually get a grater and slicer attachment. Typically, the slicer often gets lost in a cabinet somewhere. But the slicer can be used to slice potatoes, for example, if you were making a scalloped potato. Also vegetables that are a little more on the firm side. I think the slicer can help cut down on prep time.
A classic KitchenAid mixer offers professional quality for residential kitchens.
Chef Vizethann: I really like using my KitchenAid mixer. One of the reasons I really like it is because it can be a commercial product, but it’s also really easy to use in the home as well. I use mine all the time.
Verdict: The right small appliances and cooking gadgets can make a big difference, even for professional chefs.
What type of cooktop do you use: gas or electric?
Courtesy of Wolf
For professional chefs, there's no substitute for a gas cooktop.
Chef Matthews: I like gas the best; I feel it gives me the most control, and I can use any old pot I have.
Chef Vizethann: Right now I have an electric stove. But gas is a little better because you get a direct flame. With gas, you can turn down the flame and your pan will get much cooler. But with an electric burner, even when you turn down the heat, it takes a while for it to actually cool down because the top is still hot.
Verdict: All our chefs preferred gas, even the one who currently wasn’t using it.
GE Profile Single-Double Wall Oven
Incorporating two wall ovens into the space typically occupied by one, this GE Profile 30-inch wall oven saves space but still lets home chefs cook two dishes at two temperatures at the same time. With a 2.2-cubic-foot upper oven and a 2.8-cubic-foot convection lower oven, the single-double oven can hold a 22-pound turkey and two casserole dishes at once. And it's self-cleaning. GE Profile
KitchenAid Commercial Style Range Hood
With serious strength and its stainless style, this KitchenAid range hood brings both power and panache to the kitchen. A three-speed fan allows for ventilation between 600 and 1,200 CFM, and dishwasher-safe filters make cleaning a cinch. The canopy hood is available as a wall-mount model in sizes ranging from 30 to 48 inches or in island installations in sizes from 36 to 48 inches. KitchenAid
Kenmore Elite Induction Range
Previously available in the U.S. only on cooktops, induction technology now has spread to ranges. The 30-inch slide-in and freestanding induction ranges from Kenmore Elite use electricity to create a magnetic field that heats your pots and pans rather than the stove's four burners. AirGuard technology traps cooking odors from the large 5.8-cubic-foot convection oven. Last but not least: a warming drawer. Kenmore Elite
Fisher & Paykel Tall DishDrawer
A taller interior design gives this dishwasher drawer plenty of space for larger dishes while maintaining a sleek design. The larger top drawer fits plates up to 13 inches in diameter, while the smaller bottom drawer fits petite loads like wine glasses or coffee cups. With a customizable racking system and the freedom to run just one drawer or both at the same time, the Tall DishDrawer makes cleaning up a breeze. Fisher & Paykel
Range Style: Freestanding Ranges
An extremely common type of range style, freestanding ranges are paneled on each side and can be placed in between cabinets, at the end of a counter, by themselves, or next to other appliances. They will usually have a bottom drawer for storage, or in some instances, a broiler compartment.
Freestanding ranges are usually cheaper than comparable slide-ins or drop-ins and also have more available sizes and features.
Range Style: Drop-In Range
Drop-in ranges provide the most integrated look of any range style. They are dropped into a space between cabinetry, and a panel that matches the cabinets goes across the bottom area of the range. Drop-in ranges typically do not have a bottom drawer for pots and pans (this is the main difference between a drop-in and a slide-in range.
A drop-in range can be used in kitchens where space is limited and a more traditional range could be cumbersome. Drop-in ranges can be slimmer than standard ranges and fit in smaller and tighter spaces.