Celebrity chef Alton Brown offers a laundry list of useful high-tech kitchen gadgets at the beginning of his new cookbook, “EveryDayCook.”
There’s the electronic food scale, the propane torch, and (of course) the nitrous oxide foamer — to name just a few.
You can be forgiven if you’re an average home cook and don’t have all these items. But the “Cutthroat Kitchen” host says there’s one item no kitchen should be without: a sturdy pair of springloaded tongs.
“I cannot function without spring-loaded tongs,” he tells Business Insider.
If it’s any indication how seriously Brown takes his tongs, one of the first pages in “EveryDayCook” is an overhead shot of him lying on a table surrounded by his many favourite gadgets. Aside from his trusty Brooklyn Cut chef’s knife, the only gadget his hand is none other than a pair of spring-loaded tongs.
“The standard-issue, non-locking spring-loaded tongs that I’m clutching in this picture are so indispensable,” Brown writes, “that many line cooks often refer to them as ‘my hands.’ I have three pairs just so I don’t have to worry about losing one.”
And don’t bother with the locking ones, he says. “They’re a pain in the butt.”
Unlike his earlier books, Brown tells Business Insider, “EveryDayCook” is less of an instruction manual and more of a catalogue of good-neighbour recipes. He wants to offer more straightforward dishes that assume some level of savvy on the part of the reader.
But that doesn’t mean Brown’s food is boring. The fact you need a canister of pressurised nitrous oxide to make a stack of pancakes should give you an indication how Brown approaches cooking.
“Those kinds of things usually come out of some kind of free association, where I’ll read or see something where somebody’s done something related,” he says. “Something will spark you about that.”
Tongs are an important tool in getting to that level of creativity because they offer an easy way to quickly manipulate a wide variety of foods. You can grab entire cuts of meat, transport vegetables, and toss pasta in a sauce all with the same tool (though perhaps after a quick wipe with a towel).
No other cooking implement offers a similar degree of dexterity. You can claw at boiling lobsters one moment and mix a salad the next.
You might not instantly possess the skill or knowledge Brown has, but at least you’ll do yourself some favours in minimising cooking time and maximizing eating time.