From Julia Child’s favorite omelet pan to a Jetsons-style whisk, these well-designed tools will delight cooks at every level.
Cuisipro Thermo Whisk
Sometimes combining two good, simple things makes for one truly great tool. In the ’90s, it was suitcases with wheels. In the new millennium, it’s the Thermo Whisk. This James Bond–ian device blends a whisk and a thermometer, which eases crowding on the stove and helps bakers of any skill level stir up perfect custards or tempered chocolate. $24.99, alwaysbrilliant.com.
Foodsaver Vacuum Sealer
The food industry has long used vacuum packaging to extend the shelf life of meats and vegetables. Now that technology is available to home cooks. Experimental types may want to follow the lead of gastro-wizards like Clio pastry chef Rick Billings, who vacuum-seals thin slices of fruits and vegetables like peaches, melons, and tomatoes to concentrate flavors and textures. $60–$160, Target, various locations, 800-591-3869, target.com.
Chef’n Sleekstor Measuring Cups
These nifty cups are noteworthy not so much for their purpose—measuring dry ingredients—as for what they can do when they’re not in service. Like an accordion, they collapse so you can push them flat, creating more space (and a little less clutter) in your pantry. $19.95, Sur La Table, The Mall at Chestnut Hill, 617-244-0213, surlatable.com.
Rosendahl Tommy Larsen Citrus Squeezer
This small stainless-steel spiral solves the age-old dilemma of how to squeeze a lemon without dropping seeds into your vinaigrette—and gets the juice clinging to the fish fillet, rather than to your hands. Twist the corkscrewed tool into the base of a lemon and squeeze: A thick stream of juice pours right out. Even better, you can refrigerate a lemon with the squeezer in place for those times you need just a quick squirt. $30, Bliss Home, 121 Newbury St., Boston, 617-421-5544, blisshome.com.
Berti Italian Knives
Cooks share a close bond with their knives. L’Espalier’s Frank McClelland was instantly smitten with these high-carbon, stain-resistant steel beauties, hand-forged in Tuscany. The versatile chef’s knife makes short work of a tomato—the ultimate knife test—but is sturdy enough to carve a large roast. Made from a soft metal, they sharpen easily and quickly. $110–$300, Stoddard’s, The Mall at Chestnut Hill, 617-244-4187, stoddards.com.
RSVP Oil Sprayer
Forget the nonstick cooking spray: This stylish spritzer lets you choose the oil you prefer. Pour it into the plastic container, then use the self-priming pump to produce a fine mist. You can coat muffin tins or cake pans to prevent sticking, or add some high-quality olive oil and spray salads or fish for big flavor without all the fat. $14.95, Kitchen Arts, 161 Newbury St., Boston, 617-266-8701, kitchenarts.biz.
Kyocera Kitchen Slicers
These Japanese mandolins come in splashy designer hues, but they cut well enough for the pros. And the ceramic blades stay sharper and slice more smoothly than steel ones. Dante de Magistris of Dante uses the flat slicer to cut perfect rounds of potatoes for a gratin or tomatoes for a sandwich, and the julienne blade to create matchsticks of apple, fennel, or zucchini. $25, Williams-Sonoma, Copley Place, Boston, 617-262-3080, williams-sonoma.com.
Le Creuset Basting Brush
Your old-fashioned pastry brush is a safety nightmare, especially if you use it to prep raw meat for the grill: It retains bacteria, falls apart in the dishwasher, and is a pain to clean by hand. Le Creuset’s silicone basting brush solves every problem in one fell swoop. It’s heat resistant up to 800 degrees, which means you can throw it into the dishwasher. Chef Barbara Lynch uses hers at home to brush egg onto homemade pasta. $8.95, Sur La Table.
Original French Chef Omelet Pans
The heavy cast aluminum in these pans transfers heat evenly, so omelets cook quickly and retain a light, moist texture; the shallow sloping sides and sturdy wooden handles facilitate easy flipping. Just as notable, though, is this vessel’s original beneficiary, Julia Child, who in 1962 urged the Pot Shop’s management to craft this pan especially for her. $60–$100, the Pot Shop of Boston, 617-523-9210, potshopofboston.com.
It may look like a medieval torture device, but according to chef Gordon Hamersley of Hamersley’s Bistro this contraption—inspired by Indian fakir grills—is sure to thrill. Set the Fakircook over an open flame (like an outdoor barbecue) until blazing hot, flip it over, sprinkle the nails with herbs or spices for flavor, then impale your dinner to sear the meat from the inside out. $408, J. B. Prince, 800-473-0577, jbprince.com.