Shop Talk : Tips for the chef at home
Photo by Katryn Yerdon
Since some of us already spend more than enough time in the kitchen on a daily basis without having to give up more of our precious time due to inadequate kitchen utensils. We can attempt to fix that by properly equipping our kitchens along with maintaining our utensils, which can sometimes mean the difference of several hours each week.
One of the biggest time stealers can be your chosen knives and their maintenance. A sharp knife is an effective knife and can greatly reduce time spent in the kitchen if you avoid the common mistake of using a dull knife. While using home sharpeners or a honing steel (a way to remove small food particles on your blade just before or after use and can be done on a daily basis) might help to maintain your knives edges, a visit to a professional sharpener up to twice a year is recommended.
LeRoux Kitchen on Main Street in Vineyard Haven sharpens knives with its professional sharpener. You just drop off your knives and they will call you when they are ready for pickup. This service has gotten so popular they are now upgrading their sharpener to a larger, more commercial version to be able to better service the Island.
While at LeRoux, you can spend some time looking over their extremely large selection of professional knives from the traditional J.A. Henckels to the ultra modern Shun lines. As to which style you choose, it will depends on your skill, the task at hand, how much you want to spend for a higher quality steel that will keep a sharper edge, and what feels most comfortable in your hand.
The staff at LeRoux is very knowledgeable and will to take the time to help you choose your perfect tool. Chris Brooks, the LeRoux associate with many years of knife knowledge under his belt, suggests "Maintaining your sharp knife requires extra care that includes using a knife block or wall mount, versus placing them unprotected in a drawer, and making sure that you hand wash them immediately with soapy water versus using placing them in a dishwasher where the edge can be banged around and the handle loosened, along with the fact that the detergent can etch the blade."
Other time saving kitchen utensils are small choppers and larger food processors. In fact, a food processor is the exact tool Chef Antonio Saccoccia of The Grill on Main restaurant in Edgartown can't live without. "While obviously my French knife is my most important tool, the food processor comes in as the most used, well rounded tool in my kitchen as it saves myself and my staff a lot of valuable time," he says. "I use my processor daily for emulsifications, bread doughs, salad dressings, chopping and piecrusts."
Other time saving tips include having a large sauté pan that can handle small and large amounts without having you struggle to fit the food in the pan when turning it. Having an all metal sauté pan allows you the option to sear your food on the stove then slide it in the oven to finish cooking, resulting in less clean up. Having a selection of glass mason jars on hand can cut down on preparation time as items such as salad dressings can be mixed, stored, and reused in them, as well as used for leftovers that can be opened and reheated (minus the metal lid) in the microwave. They are also a great way to store the remainder of your summer garden to enjoy this winter.
Whatever your choices to ease your time in the kitchen, always think efficiency, multipurpose and ease of use. For your upgrades, visit such Island greats as LeRoux Kitchen or any of our hardware stores including Shirley's, Granite, Hinckley's, Phillips, and Edgartown Hardware.