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Eating Well 

Dining Guide 2016

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Major Tools
Talking trade and tools with some top local chefs
By Heather L. King
comments@cityweekly.net

Strike up a conversation with any home cook, and it eventually turns toward which kitchen tools have changed the way dinner gets done at their house. Whether the saving-grace gadget is a garlic press, sous vide machine or professional thermometer, each comes with a story about how it revolutionized the cooking process.

Professional chefs are no different. In addition to the dedication, talent and fortitude it takes to be a great chef at a successful restaurant, having the right tools to produce tantalizingly tasty dishes for hungry Utahns each and every day is essential. So, we asked chefs from some of the most popular restaurants along the Wasatch Front (and Back) which kitchen gadgets they couldn't live without. And while you might not be surprised to hear personal stories about necessary items like knives and pans, you might be delighted (and inspired) by some of the more unusual indispensible tools being put to use in some of your favorite restaurants.

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1. Fred Moesinger, chef/owner
Caffé Molise and BTG Wine Bar
"Which kitchen tool could I not work without? It's probably my first chef's knife from 20-plus years ago. It's nicknamed 'Precioso' and it's a 10-inch Wüsthof Classic chef's knife. It makes my job easier because the blade stays sharp through many uses, the balance is just right for me, and there's something about all that time we've spent together, too. The handle even has a thumb indentation that I've worn into it over the years. I bought it from Lorenz Cutlery back when they were on 400 South. A few years ago, Wüsthof came out with a double-serrated bread knife, and it is amazing. It works great on bread and delicate produce and is totally deserving of the hype and price."

2. Jennifer Gilroy, chef/owner
Porch and Meditrina
Lodge cast-iron skillets or any perfectly seasoned cast-iron pan are Gilroy's go-to tool. "I use them while camping, at home and in the restaurants. There is no sear like a cast-iron sear. They're great for searing ahi tuna, and we make the iron-skillet cornbread on the Porch menu in them." In fact, Gilroy even has a cast-iron pan which was used in her great grandma's bar and grill in Jensen, Utah, in the 1950s and which she still personally uses today along with her spatula.

3. Anny Sooksri, chef/owner
Tea Rose Diner, Chabaar, Siam Noodle Bar
Sooksri can't say enough good things about the Kiwi Pro Slice peeler made in Thailand. All three of Sooksri's restaurants use the tool to shred and peel everything, from the shredded carrots in the pad Thai to the carrot art found atop rice bowls. Even though it's inexpensive (around $6), there isn't anything she's found that will do the job better. "We just love it. It makes life easier," she says. "At my cooking classes, we always let students use it to peel the carrots and everybody loves it and wants one."

4. Matthew Lake, chef/owner
Alamexo
"My kitchen tool I could not live without, nor could Alamexo, is our comal plancha flattop range. We use this range for so many things—from roasting tomatoes and chiles for salsas and warming our tortillas to cooking
almost all our proteins."

5. Dave Jones, chef/co-owner
Log Haven
"My knives would be my most critical tools," Jones says. "Knives are very personal to most chefs." He's used many over the years but his favorites are from MAC, Miyabi, Misono, Wüsthof, Henckels, Shun and Global. "I would also say my cookbooks are extremely important to me on a daily basis," he says. "Other critical tools that make life in the kitchen easier would be water stones, immersion blenders, mandolins, cast iron pans, Silpats, tongs, Vitamixers and Robot Coupes."

6. Matt Harris, chef/owner
Tupelo
The Gray Kunz spoon is Harris' pick. "I use this for everything. It's a spatula, unit of measure, ladle, sauce spoon, plating spoon—I have one in my hand about 90 percent of the time I'm in the kitchen. I write recipes using this spoon as measurement," he says. "The spoon helps me train cooks, too, and keeps things looking neat." His wife and restaurant co-owner, Maggie Alvarez, adds, "One of his chefs bought him the limited-edition gold-plated one. It lives in a special box at our house—where we also have a drawer full of more everyday Kunz spoons."

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